Farm laws not an ongoing issue: SC on Kisan Mahapanchayat’s plea seeking permission to hold satyagraha
24 September, 2022 | Pranay Lad
The challenge of three farm laws, which have since been repealed, was noted by the Supreme Court as not being an “ongoing issue,” and it questioned Kisan Mahapanchayat, which had reques...
The challenge of three farm laws, which have since been repealed, was noted by the Supreme Court as not being an “ongoing issue,” and it questioned Kisan Mahapanchayat, which had requested permission to hold a Satyagraha at Jantar Mantar in the nation’s capital to protest the laws, why it wanted to pursue the matter further.
While hearing the matter, a bench of Justices KM Joseph and Hrishikesh informed the lawyer representing Kisan Mahapanchayat that the case had grown infructuous and was over. Following a demonstration by thousands of farmers at Delhi border crossing points that began in November 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the repeal of the three problematic farm regulations on November 19, 2021.
A farmers’ organisation known as Kisan Mahapanchayat petitioned the Supreme Court in 2021 asking for permission to hold Satyagraha in Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.
A group of farmers and others in the agricultural community called themselves the Kisan Mahapanchayat and demonstrated against the three farm laws.
Justice Joseph heard the case on Friday and questioned the Kisan Mahapanchayat attorney, “It is now an infructuous matter. What’s in it right now? The Jantar Mantar problem. Theoretical matters are not up for discussion. Cannot squander the court’s time.”
In this petition, my freedom to demonstrate is still infringed, the lawyer for the farmers’ body informed the bench. The bench responded by pointing out that this is not a persistent problem and that the petitioner is free to contact the court at any time.
There was a context when the petition was submitted, but there is no longer a basis for action, it continued.
The farmers’ organisation stated that it still intends to oppose the MSP as well as other problems.
The bench then instructed the Center’s representative’s attorney to get case instructions. The case has now been scheduled for hearing in October by the top court.
A bench led by Justice AM Khawnilkar, who is now retired, made the decision to investigate whether farmers who have challenged the three agricultural regulations in court had the right to demonstrate while the matter is under appeal last year.
The highest court had expressed its dissatisfaction with rallies being held when petitions against the agricultural legislation are already ongoing before the Constitutional Court, saying that we will decide if the freedom to demonstrate is an “absolute right.”
“We must resolve the legal problem of how you may protest about the same matter after you have contacted the courts,” it had stated.
By obstructing the national roads in Delhi-NCR and going to court at the same time, Kisan Mahapanchayat was reprimanded. It claimed that the protesting farmers had “strangulated” the whole city and were now trying to enter it.
The Supreme Court established a four-member committee on January 12, 2021, to make recommendations for resolving the impasse over the contentious farm laws between the Center and farmers’ unions who were protesting at the Delhi border. The Supreme Court also stayed the implementation of the contentious farm laws pending further orders.
The supreme court was contacted by the Kisan Mahapanchayat in an effort to get permission from the authorities to organise a non-violent, non-violent “Satyagraha” in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar.
In order to organise “Satyagraha,” it has asked the Central Government, the Lieutenant Governor, and the Commissioner of Delhi Police to provide at least 200 farmers or Mahapanchayat protesters space at Jantar Mantar and not prevent them from going there.
According to Kisan Mahapanchayat, refusing permission to hold a peaceful, unarmed, and non-violent Satyagraha at the chosen location in Jantar Mantar is a breach of the fundamental democratic rights outlined in the Indian Constitution.
It had claimed that the government’s actions were “biassed and arbitrary” since Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, another farmer organisation, had been given permission to demonstrate but they were not allowed to organise a staggered Satyagraha.