INDIA. Delhi: The farmer’s agitation, today entered its 56th day. The tenth round of talks between the government and representatives of protesting farmers on controversial new farm laws are scheduled to take place today. The talks were earlier planned for Tuesday but were postponed to 20 January. It should be noted here that all the previous rounds of discussion have failed to break the deadlock over the agricultural laws. The farmers are firm on their demand to repeal the laws and have planned a tractor rally on Republic Day.
The Supreme Court also held hearings today on a plea from the Central government filed through the Delhi Police seeking its order to the farmers not to carry out the tractor rally amid the Republic Day celebrations, stating that any rally or protest that disrupts or disturbs the Republic Day celebrations will cause “an embarrassment to the nation”.
But the Supreme Court denied passing any orders on the planned tractor rally on Republic Day in New Delhi saying it will be inappropriate for the court to act on the Republic day tractor rally. It asked the Delhi police to take a call since it is the police that must decide on these matters.
“We see it as irregular and improper to allow or disallow any rally or procession. The norm is it is a police matter. The police decide it. We are not going to pass the order,” a Supreme Court bench said.
Chief Justice of India SA Bobde had said that the Supreme Court was not the first authority in the matter. “Does the Supreme Court say as to what the powers of the police are and how they will exercise them,” he asked. “We are not going to tell you what to do.”
Farmer leaders though clarified that the rally will be peaceful and won’t interrupt the day’s big parade at Rajpath. “They are going to celebrate Republic day and won’t breach peace with their tractor rally,” advocate Prashant Bhushan told the court today while representing the farmers.
After this stand by the top court on the issue, the Union government said it will leave it for the Delhi police to decide on the event.
Expert committee meeting
Earlier last week, the Supreme Court has appointed a committee of experts, which held its first meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday, and discussed how to convince the protesting farmers while seeking views of other farmer organisations and the government. The farmer organisations though have shown apprehensions on the formation of the committee.
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During the hearing today, the apex court also expressed serious reservations on aspersions being cast on members of the committee set up last week by it. CJI SA Bobde says the court intervened for the common interest of the people and that the panel was formed as the court is not an expert in the matter.
The bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said, “No power has been given to committee members to adjudicate things, they have to report to us. Where is the question of bias? If you don’t want to appear before the committee, don’t appear but don’t malign or brand anyone like this, don’t cast aspersion on the court. We gave power to the committee to listen (to farmers) and come to us and file their reports. What is the point of bias in it?”