It is now the 47th day of the ‘Delhi Chalo’ farmers’ protest, where thousands of farmers have been staging a sit-in protest along Delhi borders. The farmers have demanded a rollback on the new farm laws passed by the Centre and a guarantee of receiving the Minimum Support Price (MSP). There have been eight rounds of talks between the farmers and the Centre, but those have ended in deadlock.
Today, the Supreme Court heard a bunch of petitions challenging the new farm laws as well as the ones raising issues related to the ongoing agitation at Delhi borders. As the hearing started, the Chief Justice of India said, “We are disappointed with the way the process is going”. While hearing a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the three farm laws, the CJI asked, “We don’t know what negotiations are going on? Can the farm laws be put on hold for some time?”.
The CJI then asked, “Some people have committed suicide, old people and women are a part of the agitation. What is happening?”. He further added that not a single plea has been filed that said that the farm laws are good and that “if the Centre has any sense of responsibility, laws should be put on hold”. The CJI stated that they did not want any side to be injured or violent and that the “intention is to bring about an amicable solution”. In order to do this, the CJI has asked the Centre to not enforce the laws and put the “laws on hold till committee’s report”.
The apex court has suggested names of former CJIs including RM Lodha to head the panel for exploring the possibility of a solution over farm laws protests. The bench said that it will pass orders on the issue in parts, and is likely to do so today or tomorrow.
The hearing which is to take place today is of significance, as the Centre and the farmer leaders are scheduled to hold their next meeting on January 15. In the previous hearing, the Supreme Court, which had observed that there had been no improvement on the ground regarding farmers’ protests, was told by the Centre that “healthy discussions” were taking place between the government and the unions over all the issues and there was a good chance that both sides may reach a conclusion in the near future.
On December 17, when the top court heard the pleas on the farmers’ protest, it stated that the agitation should be allowed to continue “without impediment” and this court will not “interfere” with it as the right to protest is a fundamental right.
Meanwhile, the Haryana Chief Minister, Manohar Lal Khattar was forced to cancel his visit to Karnal as the venue for his event was taken over by the protesting farmers, who also tried to damage the helipad so his helicopter could not land.
As Republic Day approaches, the protesters are gearing up for a large protest on the day during which farmers would bring their tractors into the capital, farm unions are carrying out a mass recruitment drive in villages across Punjab which has thousands of people signing up for it.