Farmers’ protest: SC says govt talks have not worked, proposes formation of panel to resolve issues

The court said the proposed committee would comprise of representatives from the government and farmer unions across the country to resolve the deadlock over the farm laws.

Noting that the Centre’s negotiations with farmers protesting against the agricultural reform laws have not yielded any results, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said it could form a committee to work out a solution between the two sides. The ongoing protests, which is now in its third week, have seen thousands of farmers, primarily from Punjab and Haryana, gathering at the capital’s doorstep.

Hearing a batch of petitions seeking removal of farmers protesting near Delhi borders, a bench of Chief Justice of India S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian issued a notice to the Centre and posted the matter for hearing on Thursday.

The court said the proposed committee would comprise of representatives from the government and farmer unions across the country to resolve the deadlock over the farm laws.

“Your negotiations with protesting farmers have not worked apparently till now,” the apex court said, adding that the protesting farmer unions should be made a party to the case. So far, the government and farmer union leaders have held five rounds of talks without much headway.

Meanwhile, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench that the government would not do anything against the interest of farmers.

The plea was filed by one Rishabh Sharma, a law student, who contended that “because of the ongoing protest at the Delhi borders, the roads have been blocked by the protesters and closed border points, which have affected vehicular traffic and people who are traveling to and from Delhi to get medical treatment in reputed government/private hospitals situated in Delhi are also affected”.

The plea said the protesters were “blocking the roads for all the emergency/medical services” required in the national capital for those affected by the virus.

The farmers have expressed apprehension that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporates. The government has maintained that the new laws would bring farmers better opportunities.

On Wednesday, the farmer unions sent a written reply to the government, rejecting its December 9 proposal in which it offered significant concessions. An Agriculture Ministry official confirmed that the government received a written response from the farmer unions. However, he refused to answer queries about whether the government would send an invitation for talks to farmers.

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