On Thursday, the Supreme Court asked the central government that it should consider placing the three controversial farm laws on hold before talks were held with protesting farmers and while the court heard protest petitions.
However, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that the enforcement of the laws could not be sustained. While Mehta said it could not be done, Venugopal decided to come back with a response from the government to the proposal.
A bench headed by India’s Chief Justice (CJI) S.A. Bobde also without hearing, rejected to order the removal of farmers from the Delhi border, where they had been protesting since the last weekend of November.
The court argued that farmers have the right to organize and strike, but without creating other people any inconvenience. “A protest is constitutional as long as it does not cause violence or destroy life. It can continue while the committee we propose can hold deliberations. We are likely to propose names like P. Sainath for the committee,” the CJI remarked.
On Wednesday, the court said it would set up a committee to help resolve the impasse over farm laws between protesting farmers and the central government.
The top court claimed that it does not want “farmers to accept the conclusions of the government” and “decide the way ahead” is the committee appointed by it. No order on the constitution of the committee was, however, issued by the court, as it refused to give any direction in the absence of farmers.
The bench heard petitions calling for farmers to be evicted from the protest sites, arguing that the unrest blocked Delhi’s vital entry points and could choke the capital city.
It should be noted that the farmer unions were absent at the hearing Thursday.
Centre Will Respond On Holding New Farm Laws
During the hearing, Venugopal was also asked by CJI Bobde to ensure that the farm laws will not be applied in the interim. “We believe you are assuring the court that you will not immediately enforce this law until we hear the case,” he said.
However, the attorney general said such a move could stall negotiations. To this end, the CJI said that a declaration made by the Centre to this effect could only allow negotiations with protesting farmers and resolve the standoff.
Venugopal then asked for time to discuss the matter with government officials and return during the holiday, when the CJI suggested that even during the winter break, a bench would be formed to hear the matter. Friday is the top court’s last working day before it leaves for a winter recess of 15 days that ends on 3 January.