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Farmers’ Protest: SC asks Centre to put farm laws on hold

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The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Union government to consider putting the controversial farm laws on hold. It also reiterated its suggestion to constitute a committee comprising of all stakeholders for negotiations to put an end to the stalemate between the protesting farmers and the government.

The court also adjourned the hearing in the batch of pleas related to the farmers’ protest and the farm laws as the farmers’ unions were not present during the hearing. The bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde said that the petitions will be taken up for hearing by the vacation bench. It added that orders cannot be passed as no farmers’ associations were present during the hearing.

SC acknowledges farmers’ right to protest

The bench, during the virtual hearing, observed that it recognises the farmers’ right to protest but this right should not infringe the fundamental rights of others to move freely and in getting essential food and other supplies.

It said that in a democracy, police and authorities have to be given the power to prevent the protestors from infringing the rights of others.

Also Read: Protesting farmer dies at Delhi border

“Who will take guarantee that if farmers are allowed to enter the city in such high numbers, they will not resort to violence? The court cannot guarantee this. The court does not have the wherewithal to prevent any such violence. It has to be the police and other authorities who will protect the right of others,” the bench said, adding that right to protest cannot mean blockade of the entire city.

Talks with government

The apex court told Bharatiya Kisan Union (Bhanu) group, the only farmer organisation before the court, that they cannot keep on protesting without talking to the government.

“You cannot sit in protest for years and years and don’t talk to the government. We have already said that we recognise your right to protest but the protest has to have some motive. You need to talk to the government,” the bench said.

Notably, several rounds of discussions between the Centre and the agitating farmers’ leaders have remained inconclusive. While the Centre is promising amendments in the three farm laws to pacify the farmers, the latter is not ready to settle down for anything less than the scrapping of the contentious laws.

In fact, Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar has said that the government is ready to have a clause by clause discussion with the farmers.

 

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