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Backed by Opposition, Punjab Assembly passes Bills against Centre’s farm laws

The Bills were passed after an over five-hour discussion, in which BJP MLAs did not take part. The Opposition SAD, AAP and Lok Insaaf MLAs backed the legislations.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: October 21, 2020 11:33:50 am
Punjab Cabinet, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Chandigarh news, Punjab news, Indian express newsPunjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh

Following a marathon five-hour discussion, the Punjab Legislative Assembly on Tuesday unanimously passed four Bills to negate the Centre’s three contentious farm laws. The legislations were backed by the Opposition parties, including SAD, AAP and MLAs of Lok Insaaf Party even though BJP did not take part in the proceedings.

The Bills seek to amend the Farmers Produce Facilitation Act, the Farmers Agreement and Farm Services Act, the Essential Commodities Act, and the Civil Procedure Code.

The state government’s legislative counter provides for imprisonment of not less than three years and fine for sale or purchase of wheat or paddy under a farming agreement below the minimum support price. The provisions exempt farmers from the attachment of land up to 2.5 acres and provide for the prevention of hoarding and black marketing of agricultural produce.

Speaking with reporters outside the Assembly, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said that the copies of the resolution have also been handed to the Governor for approval. Singh said his government’s four Bills were aimed at preventing the damage that the central laws would cause to the state and its agriculture, while allying the fears of farmers and consumers.

EXPLAINED | What Punjab’s three new farm Bills say, what they seek to achieve

“The Bills (Farm Bills) have become an Act at the Parliament but Vidhan Sabha unanimously rejected those Acts. We’ve adopted a resolution and have come here together. We gave copies of the resolution to the Governor and requested him to approve it,” Captain Amarinder was quoted as saying by ANI.

“It first goes to Governor, then to President. If it doesn’t happen then we have legal methods too. I hope the Governor approves it because it is unanimous,” Singh added.

The Punjab Chief Minister also said that he had sought an appointment from President Ram Nath Kovind between November 2-5. “Entire Vidhan Sabha will go to him,” he said.

As the House took up the Bills and the resolution for discussion, SAD MLA Bikram Singh Majithia welcomed the legislations and spoke on the need for consent from the governor or the president in case the Bills were forwarded to them before becoming Acts.

Singh earlier said that his government would not allow the state’s farming community and agriculture, which were the backbone of its growth and development, to be ruined by the BJP through such devious methods. The CM said he was prepared to “resign or be dismissed rather than bow to injustice towards Punjab’s farmers”.

During the last monsoon session of Parliament, three new agri bills were passed, followed by President Ram Nath Kovind giving his assent to them on September 27, which are now the law of the land.

Farmers in Haryana and Punjab have been protesting against The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill,2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

Their primary objection is to the first Bill, which provides for the creation of a “trade area” outside the existing APMC Mandis. While there is no mention of the MSP mechanism in any of the three Bills, farmers fear that if the mandi system comes to an end, MSP will soon follow. The government maintains that the MSP system will continue.

(Inputs from ANI, PTI)

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