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Explained: What is the Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021?

Farm laws repealed: What is the Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021? Has the government given any reason for repeal of the farm laws?

Written by Harikishan Sharma , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
November 29, 2021 12:53:23 pm
Farmers shout slogans during the year-long protest against the three farm laws, at Singhu Border (Express photo/Praveen Khanna)

The Lok Sabha Monday passed the Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021 without any discussion. The Bill, which is aimed at repealing three farm laws, was introduced in the house by Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar.

What is the Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021?

The Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021 is aimed at repealing the three farm laws – Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 – and amending the Essential Commodities Act, 1955. The Bill was necessitated after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the government’s intention to repeal the three laws in view of ongoing farmers’ protests against these laws on November 19. Two days after the Prime Minister’s announcement, the Union Cabinet cleared the draft of the Bill. Now the Bill has been introduced in Lok Sabha.

How many sections are there in the Bill?

The six-page Bill contains only three sections. The first section defines the title of the Act – the Farm Laws Repeal Act, 2021, the second section has provisions to repeal three farm laws, and the third section relates to omitting sub-section (1A) from section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.

What is sub-section (1A) under section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act which is being removed?

The government had inserted sub-section (1A) in the section 3 of the Essential Commodity Act, 1955 that empowers the government to control production, supply, distribution, etc., of essential commodities. The sub-section (1A) provides a mechanism to regulate the supply of foodstuffs, including cereals, pulses, potato, onions, edible oilseeds and oils under “extraordinary circumstances” which may include war, famine, extraordinary price rise and natural calamity of grave nature. It also prescribes the price triggers for imposing stock limits. Under the sub-section (1A), any action on imposing stock limit shall be based on price rise and an order for regulating stock limit of any agricultural produce may be issued if there is a hundred per cent increase in the retail price of horticultural produce; or fifty per cent increase in the retail price of non-perishable agricultural foodstuffs, over the price prevailing immediately preceding twelve months, or average retail price of last five years, whichever is lower.

Women farmers at Tikri border (Express Photo/Amit Mehra)

Has the government given any reason for repeal of the farm laws?

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who piloted the Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021, has stated several reasons for taking this legislative step. In a statement of objects and reasons, which forms the part of the Bill, Tomar said, “Even though only a group of farmers are protesting against these laws, the Government has tried hard to sensitise the farmers on the importance of the Farm Laws and explain the merits through several meetings and other forums.”

“Without taking away the existing mechanisms available to farmers, new avenues were provided for trade of their produce. Besides, farmers were free to select the avenues of their choice where they can get more prices for their produce without any compulsion,” the statement said.

Farmers at Ghazipur border (Express photo by Prem Nath Pandey)

“However, the operation of the aforesaid Farm laws has been stayed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. During the COVID period, the farmers have worked hard to increase production and fulfil the needs of the nation. As we celebrate the 75th Year of Independence— “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav”, the need of the hour is to take everyone together on the path of inclusive growth and development,” it said.

“In view of the above, the aforesaid Farm Laws are proposed to be repealed. It is also proposed to omit sub-section (1A) of section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 (10 of 1955) which was inserted vide the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 (22 of 2020),” it states.

How many days the farm laws were in effect?

The journey of three farm laws began on June 5, 2020 when the President of India promulgated three ordinances­ – Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020; The Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020; and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020. These ordinances were later replaced with proper legislation in September 2020. However, the implementation of three farm laws was stayed by the Supreme Court on January 12, 2021. So, these laws were in effect for only 221 days.

What next?

The Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021 will now go to the Rajya Sabha.

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