New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the operation of the laws until further orders and ordered constitution of a committee "for the purpose of listening to the grievances of farmers relating to the farm laws and views of the government to make recommendations".During the hearing, the top court noted that the negotiations between the farmers' bodies and the government have not yielded any result so far, therefore a committee of experts in the field of agriculture to negotiate between the farmers' bodies and the government may create a congenial atmosphere and improve the trust and confidence of the farmers.
The Chief Justice named four agriculturists to the committee: Ashok Gulati, agricultural economist; Bhupinder Singh Mann, President, Bhartiya Kisan Uniom-Mann; Anil Ghanwat, President, Shetkari Sangathan; and Pramod Kumar Joshi, International Food Policy Research Institute.
But there seems to be a roadblock. It has been widely reported that members of the committee have been on record as favouring the farm laws. Against this backdrop, the farmers' unions have said that this committee is not a solution.
For instance, Former Rajya Sabha MP Bhupinder Singh Mann, who chairs All India Kisan Coordination Committee (AIKCC), had submitted a memorandum to the Central government seeking implementation of the laws.
Ghanwat, who heads the Maharashtra based Shetkari Sanghatana, has spoken against the demand for repealing the farm laws. He had also told the media that the APMC and MSP systems will continue, therefore there is no reason for agitation.
Pramod Kumar Joshi, who is ex-director of South Asia office of IFPRI, had expressed his disagreements with the farmers protest and written that "various non-farm organisations and a few intellectuals who are supporting the farmers' demands must realise that the demands are unworthy of such support." Joshi had also written an article in a leading financial daily, where he had said it is unfortunate that farmers are changing the goalposts before every negotiation.
Ashok Gulati, Infosys Chair Professor for Agriculture at ICREIR, in his opinion piece in The Indian Express, had written, "rationale of these pieces of legislation is to provide greater choice and freedom to farmers to sell their produce and to buyers to buy and store, thereby creating competition in agricultural marketing."
It is also interesting to note that none of these members were part of the hearing on farm laws in the apex court, especially in the past two days, when a bench headed by the Chief Justice made several critical observations against the government on these laws.
Meanwhile, the protesting farmers have rejected the committee constituted by the Supreme Court.
In a press conference held after the SC order which stayed the implementation of the laws, Dr Darshan Pal, President of Krantikari Kisan Union said that they had already made it clear that formation of a committee to hear the grievance will not be acceptable.
The leader also pointed out that all the four members of the committee had written articles favouring the laws.
The Supreme Court has tasked the committee to hear the government as well as the representatives of the farmers' bodies, and other stakeholders, and submit a report to the court containing its recommendations. "This shall be done within two months from the date of its first sitting. The first sitting shall be held within ten days from today," said the top court in its order.