India / SC issues notice to Centre on petitions challenging 3 farm laws

Zoom News : Oct 12, 2020, 02:50 PM
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Centre on a batch of petitions filed by Chhattisgarh Kisan Congress leaders and DMK MP Tiruchi Siva, challenging validity of recently passed farm laws.

A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian asked Attorney General K K Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to file the response in the matter on behalf of the Union government.

"We have Attorney General, Solicitor General, Additional Solicitor General all present here in a case where there is no cause of action. In common parlance, this is called overkill. Merely because a law is passed does not give a cause of action," the bench said.

"Ultimately, you have to answer the questions sometime or the other," the bench told the law officers.

The petitioners, including Rakesh Vaishnav, claimed the laws in their current form will spell disaster for the farming community by dismantling Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) and operating a parallel unregulated market. This would give enough room for exploitation of the farmers’ community by concentration of power in the hands of a few corporates or individuals. 

They also alleged that there was no proper and meaningful representation or consultation and exchange of opinions from the stake holders before passing these Bills.

The provisions of the Farmers' (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, Farmers’ Produce Trade And Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020 were unconstitutional, manifestly arbitrary, unreasonable, whimsical and highly arbitrary, they contended.

The petitioners apprehended that the laws give an "uneven edge over the farmers interest in favour of the sponsor or the farm service provider". "Such powers in the hands of sponsors, middle man and farm service provider sounds a death knell to the interest of the farmer who tills the lands with blood and sweat all year round for the agricultural produces," they said.

If the distribution of food grains was left to market demand and the vagaries of corporate influence, they would create artificial scarcity to drive up the price, they felt.

"Complete liberalisation amounting to legitimising the black marketing, and stocking would create unequal platform between the haves and have-nots, and the very sustenance of have-nots would be under peril," the plea by Siva claimed.

RJD MP Manoj Kumar Jha has filed a separate petition in the matter.