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SC proposes to form committee to settle dispute between govt and farmers over 3 new laws

Supreme Court is hearing three petitions on the ongoing protests. Solicitor General says farmers not willing to budge on demand while govt is ready to discuss laws clause by clause.

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New Delhi: A Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde Wednesday indicated it will set up a committee to help end the impasse between protesting farmers and the central government on the three contentious farm laws passed earlier this year.

“This is what we propose to do tentatively. We will form a committee to resolve this dispute,” the bench told solicitor general Tushar Mehta while hearing three petitions related to the farmers’ protests.

Of the three, two seek directions to remove the farmers from Delhi’s borders where they have been camped since the last weekend of November, while the third wants provision of basic amenities at the protest sites and compensation for the farmers if they have been assaulted.

Mehta sought to communicate the government’s position on the issue and said it is keen on engaging with the farmers. However, he said, debate and deliberations can take place only when the farmers are open to discuss the laws, clause by clause.

“They come with just one demand (of taking back the law)…,” Mehta told the bench.

Also read: BKU (Ugrahan) — the outlier kisan union that the farmers’ protest cannot do without

Court’s proposal

On hearing the officer, the CJI said the dispute could soon become a national issue, and therefore proposed to constitute the committee.

“This panel will comprise members from BKU or any other farmer association that are protesting, government representatives and other farmers groups,” the CJI said.

A formal notice was also issued to the Centre on the three petitions. Mehta was told to prepare a list of farmers’ groups with whom the government has held talks in the past on the dispute.

Mehta submitted that the agitation had been taken over by vested interests. Yet, the
government was and is always ready to talk to farmers. The farmers, he added, have approached the issue with a very tough stand, though.

“Whenever they came to meet our ministers, they carried the placards with ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Also, when the ministers spoke to them they turned around their seats to show their back to central ministers,” Mehta claimed.

According to him, a positive and constructive way to approach the issue is to discuss the laws clause by clause.

“Government would not do anything against the farmers. We are willing to sit to discuss and debate,” the law officer added.

CJI Bobde remarked the government’s negotiation would not work if it was unwilling to resolve the dispute.

Delhi government counsel Rahul Mehra intervened to dissuade the court from entertaining the plea. He contended the petitioners had approached the court without giving a representation to the state administration.

“They have approached here without assessing the ground situation,” Mehra.

He batted for the farmers saying they were compelled to protest in the winter and were left with no choice but to squat at the border.

“The Centre must do something about the farmers and resolve their problems,” Mehra said, prompting Solicitor General Mehta to say: “It seems Mr Mehra is appearing for the vested interest.”

The CJI stopped both Mehra and Mehta from addressing each other in the court and ordered listing of petitions Thursday.

Also read: Need continued talks, long-term solutions — what experts say on farmers protest


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