Supreme Court to hear pleas on farm laws today after Bhupinder Singh Mann's recusal from panel

The top court will also hear the plea of the Central Government, filed though the Delhi Police, seeking an injunction against the proposed tractor march on 26 January

Press Trust of India January 17, 2021 18:09:09 IST
Supreme Court to hear pleas on farm laws today after Bhupinder Singh Mann's recusal from panel

File image of the Supreme Court of India. Reuters

New Delhi: The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Monday the petitions relating to controversial farm laws and the ongoing farmers' protest at Delhi borders.

The apex court may take into account the matter of recusal of a member of the committee set up by it to resolve the impasse.

The top court would also hear the plea of the Central Government, filed though the Delhi Police, seeking an injunction against the proposed tractor march or any other kind of protest by farmers which seeks to disrupt the gathering and celebrations of Republic Day on 26 January.

In an "extraordinary" interim order on 12 January, a bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde had stayed the implementation of the new farm laws till further orders and had constituted a four-member panel to listen to the grievances and make recommendations to resolve the impasse.

The committee comprised Bhupinder Singh Mann, national president of Bhartiya Kisan Union; Dr Parmod Kumar Joshi, Director for South Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute; Ashok Gulati, agricultural economist and former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices; and Anil Ghanwat, president of Shetkari Sanghatana.

The court had said it would hear the pleas against the farm laws after eight weeks when the committee would give its suggestions to resolve the impasse after talking to the protesters and the government.

The court's efforts seem to have hit a hurdle as Mann recused himself from the committee on 14 January.

A bench, also comprising justices L Nageswara Rao and Vineet Saran, may take into account the issue of recusal of Mann from the committee and take remedial actions like appointing a person to replace him in the panel.

On Saturday, farmer union, Bhartiya Kisan Union Lokshakti, filed an affidavit requesting the top court to remove the remaining three members of the committee and select people who can do the job "on the basis of mutual harmony".

The farmers' body said the principle of natural justice is going to be violated as those appointed to the four-member committee "have already supported these laws".

It has also sought dismissal of a plea of the central government, filed though the Delhi Police, seeking an injunction against the proposed tractor march on 26 January.

Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, are protesting at various border points of Delhi for over a month now against the three laws — the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act.

Enacted in September 2020, the government has presented these laws as major farm reforms aimed at increasing farmers' income, but the protesting farmers have raised concerns that these legislations would weaken the minimum support price (MSP) and "mandi" (wholesale market) systems and leave them at the mercy of big corporations.

The government has maintained that these apprehensions are misplaced and has ruled out a repeal of the laws.

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