The #Farmers #Agitation that started on 09.08.2020 and continues till today against the three Laws, which are (1) Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 (2) Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 (3) Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 (‘Farm Laws’) was before the #SupremeCourt.
The 3-Judges Bench of the Supreme Court in the case of Rakesh Vaishanv and others v. Union of India and others (2021 SCC OnLine SC 18), vide its Interim Order dated 12.01.2021 granted an Interim Stay on the implementation of Farm Laws until further orders.
The Supreme Court categorized various petitions against the Farm Laws into three categories. It describes the petitions in the following manner:
- The Petitions, which challenge the constitutional validity of the Farm Laws.
- The Petitions, which support the Farm Laws on the ground that these Laws are constitutionally valid and also beneficial to the farmers.
- The Petitions, which are filed by the Individuals who are residents of the NCR, Delhi as well as neighbouring States, claiming that the agitation by the farmers and the consequent blockage of roads/highways leading to Delhi, infringes the fundamental rights of other citizens to move freely.
Evidently, the Supreme Court noted that no settlement was reached even after the several rounds of negotiations have taken place between the Government of India and the Farmer’s Bodies. The Supreme Court took serious cognizance of the situation on ground level and pointed out that the Agitation involves senior citizens, women, and children at the roads, exposing them to grave health hazards during the cold and Pandemic. Consequently, it has further resulted in a few deaths due to serious illness and also by way of suicide. The Supreme Court while considering the seriousness of the situation also observed that the Agitation has been carried out peacefully by the farmers and without any untoward incident.
The Supreme Court was informed by the learned Attorney General that the Farmers’ Bodies may take out a tractor rally on 26.01.2021 to disrupt the Republic Day Parade however the same was denied by the Counsel representing the farmers.
Therefore, view of this situation, the Supreme Court ordered for the constitution of a Committee of Experts in the field of agriculture to negotiate between the farmers and the Government of India. The Supreme Court while passing the Order dated 12.01.2021 further observed that a stay of implementation of all the three Farm Laws in view of the present circumstances “may assuage the hurt feelings of the farmers and encourage them to come to the negotiating table with confidence and good faith.”
The learned Attorney General objected the stay of implementation of laws on the ground that the Petitioners who approached this Court against the Farm Laws have not been able to show any provision which is detrimental to the farmers. He further contended that the laws enacted by the Parliament cannot be stayed by the Judiciary, when the there is a presumption in favour of the constitutionality of legislation.
The Supreme Court while appreciating the contentions observed that “this court cannot be said to be completely powerless to grant stay of any executive action under a statutory enactment.”
Thus, the Supreme Court after considering different views passed the Interim Order dated 12.01.2021 and stayed the implementation of the Farm Laws with an expectation that both the Parties will attempt to arrive at a fair, equitable and just solution to the disputes.
As a result, the Minimum Support System in existence before the enactment of the Farm Laws shall be maintained until further orders. It further added that the farmers land holdings shall be protected.
A Committee comprising of Farmers Bodies will be constituted for the purpose of listening to the concerns of the farmers relating to the Farm Laws and views of the Government. Thereafter, it will make its recommendations; submit a report before the Supreme Court in this regard within two months from the date of its first sitting, which will be held within ten days from the date of the Interim Order i.e., 12.01.2021.
Senior Legal Associate
The Indian Lawyer & Allied Services