The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered a stay of the implementation of the contentious three new farm laws hoping this will end the prolonged protests by the farmers and also constituted a four-member panel of agri experts to resolve the impasse between their leaders and the Centre. A three-judge bench of the top court headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde said that as a consequence of the stay till further orders, the MSP system in existence before the enactment of the farm laws shall be maintained.
But in their response to what the apex court called an “extraordinary” order of stay, the farmer unions made it clear they will not call off the protests until the three laws enacted in September are repealed. Thousands of farmers, mostly from Haryana and Punjab, are protesting at Delhi borders since November 28 last, demanding a repeal of the three laws and a legal guarantee to the Minimum Support Price (MSP) system for their crops.
The leaders of the unions also claimed the members of the court-appointed committee tasked to listen to their grievances are “pro-government”, and asserted they will not appear before it. However, the Minister of State for Agriculture Kailash Choudhary sought to allay their apprehensions, saying the panel was “impartial” and it will take the opinion of all farmers and experts across the country. Choudhary told PTI in an interview the stay order is against the Centre’s wish but the court direction is ‘sarva-manya’ (acceptable to all). Leaders of the farmer unions and several opposition leaders including NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, a former union agriculture minister, welcomed the stay order.
The central government Tuesday, during the hearing on pleas challenging the constitutional validity of farm laws, in Supreme Court claimed that ‘Khalistanis’ have infiltrated the ongoing farmers’ protest on Delhi borders. The claim made by Attorney General K K Venugopal came in response when the Bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde enquired about the charges by one of the parties that a banned outfit, ‘Sikhs for Justice’, was aiding the protests.