Supreme Court Puts On Hold 3 Farm Laws, Forms Committee For Talks
Thousands have been protesting near Delhi borders since late November.
The three new farm laws at the heart of massive farmer protests near Delhi will not be implemented for now. In a huge blow to the government, the Supreme Court today put on hold the laws enacted in September. The top court also said a committee of agricultural experts would be formed to take over negotiations with farmers to end the crisis.
"We are staying three farm laws until further orders," Chief Justice SA Bobde said.
The government had told the court that the laws "were not hurriedly made", that they were the result of two decades of deliberations.
In eight rounds of talks with farmers' unions over the past month, the government had firmly ruled out withdrawing the laws but had insisted that amendments were on the table.
The Supreme Court said it was trying to solve the problem in the best way and had the power to suspend the laws.
"These are matters of life and death. We are concerned with laws. We are concerned with lives and property of people affected by the agitation. We are trying to solve the problem in the best way. One of the powers we have is to suspend the legislation," the Chief Justice said.
"We want to solve the problem and that's why we are making the committee. Give the names to us, we will decide," he added.
The top court also issued notice to farmers' unions on a Delhi Police plea to stop a tractor rally during the January 26 Republic Day parade.
The judges rebuffed the lawyer for protesting farmers, ML Sharma, as he said farmers would not participate in the committee as Prime Minister Narendra Modi had refused to talk to them. "We cannot ask the PM anything, he is not a party before us," said the Chief Justice.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court had said it was "extremely disappointed" by the government's handling of the crisis.
"Each one of us we will responsible if anything goes wrong. We don't want any injuries or blood on our hands," the Chief Justice had said in a series of sharp comments.
As the centre asked for more time, referring to ongoing negotiations, Justice Bobde said: "We don't see you are dealing with this issue effectively. Who is going to be responsible for bloodshed if any?"
The farmers, who have been camping on highways outside Delhi for more than a month, have declared a protest march in the capital on Republic Day.
The Centre said in a reply to the court that a disruption during the Republic Day parade "will be an embarrassment to the nation."