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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Farmer protests: AG says talks may work, SC defers hearing

Talks between the Centre and farmer unions opposed to the new laws are to resume Friday over two key demands — repeal of the laws and provision of legal guarantee on the minimum support price.

Written by Ananthakrishnan G | New Delhi | Updated: January 7, 2021 5:14:12 am
Supreme court of india, K K Venugopal, farm bills 2020, farm talks, farmer protest, indian express newsThe Attorney General too submitted that since negotiations are on, a government reply to petitions against the laws might foreclose the talks.

Noting that there is “no improvement” in the situation precipitated by differences between the Centre and sections of the farming community over the newly enacted agriculture laws, the Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to hear petitions challenging the new laws and those against the ongoing protests on January 11.

A bench of Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubra-manian fixed the matter for next week after Attorney General K K Venugopal informed the court that “there are chances of the parties coming to some sort of an understanding”.

Talks between the Centre and farmer unions opposed to the new laws are to resume Friday over two key demands — repeal of the laws and provision of legal guarantee on the minimum support price.

The bench was hearing a plea by advocate M L Sharma, challenging the laws.

It was initially inclined to schedule the next hearing on January 8. But Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said, “We are having a healthy discussion” and urged the court to post the matter to a different date.

The Attorney General too submitted that since negotiations are on, a government reply to petitions against the laws might foreclose the talks.

“We understand the situation and encourage the consultation,” the bench remarked and said it will adjourn the matter on January 11 as well if needed inthe interest of the consultation process.

The bench, which issued notice on Sharma’s plea, is dealing with a clutch of petitions challenging the farm laws and some against the ongoing protests at Delhi’s borders.

Others who have challenged the farm laws include RJD Rajya Sabha member Manoj Jha, DMK Rajya Sabha member Tiruchi Siva, and some residents of Chhattisgarh.

The court has already issued notice on these pleas which raise the grievance that the laws act against the interest of farmers and put them at the mercy of corporates by dismantling the Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMC) mechanism.

A plea against the protests was filed by law student Rishabh Sharma who cited the Covid-19 situation and hardship caused to commuters and patients in need of emergency health care.

Last month, the bench expressed its intention to form a committee comprising members of farmer associations and the government to carry forward the talks. It also allowed farmer groups to implead in the matter.

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