After eight rounds of failed talks between Centre and the Farmers unions under the consortium of Sayunkt Kisan Morcha, the Supreme Court of India took a decision to put the three farm laws on hold. The decision of Supreme Court is seen by many as a measure to break the deadlock while the vast majority of protesting farmers see it as a mere eye wash.
Interesting Proceedings Day One
On 11th Jan, Dushyant Dave, Prashant Bhushan and HS Phoolka attended the SC proceedings from Farmers side. A number of interesting arguments were presented by parties that are pro and anti farmers laws. SC maintained that it aims to resolve the issue at hand and did not want to be deviated by several arguments like “But some farmers are in the favour of bills” and “Protesting farmers are not willing to listen”. SC maintained its stance of disappointment with the govt for dragging the issue and not finding any solution in 8 meetings. SC clearly maintained that the right to protest cannot be taken away from the farmers but also stressed on the need to move the protests to some other location. Lot of misinformation was addressed and cleared out in the arguments, for example the govt side argued that farmers are planning to disrupt the Republic Day parade, this argument was put to rest by Dave representing the farmers. HS Phoolka also blamed Police force for inserting elements to derail the protests. CJI maintained that old and sick should be sent home. The hints were clear that SC would put the laws on hold. The govt side clearly rattled presented arguments about the loss of some 2000 farmers who have already entered contracts under the laws. SC didn’t seem to divert its attention from the matter at hand which was ‘resolution of protests’. The bench rose for the day with a word that detailed judgement would follow.
Central govt filed an affidavit in the SC citing that the laws won’t be repealed and that the laws are pro farmers. The affidavit was filed to maintain the consistent argument of the government that laws are pro farmers.
SKM issued its statement that farmers unions will not participate in the proceedings of the Supreme Court and that they respect Supreme Court but will not necessarily agree to its judgement as the resolution of the issue. SKM reiterated its demand to repeal the laws and that nothing short of that is agreeable.
Predictable Proceedings Day 2
The three-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI), SA Bobde and JusticesAS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian sat in again on 12-01-2021 to discuss the case and announce the Judgement. The lawyers representing the farmers side ie Dushyant Dave, HS Phoolka and P Bhushan were absent in the proceedings.
Supreme Court announced that a committee comprising of four members ie- Bhupinder Singh Mann (National President of Bharatiya Kisan Union), Dr. Pramod Kumar Joshi, Ashok Gulati(Agricultural Economist) and Anil Ghanwat(President of Shetkari Sanghatana) will be formed to discuss the resolution and laws. SC maintained that the laws can’t be kept on hold infinitely and that the committee will have to submit the report on the three laws.
The govt side expressed the concerns that Khalistani elements have entered the protests and that donations are collected by Sikhs for Justice to fund the protests. SC asked for filing an affidavit in the regard.
Justice Bobde also said that committee will not punish anyone and that the purpose of committee is to hear the concerns so that SC arrives at a better view of the matter. SC maintained that committee will entertain the voices of farmers as well as govt.
SC observations and Judgement
Supreme Court in its observations cited that the three laws are in contention and that there are three parties that are around the farmers protests. SC acknowledged that there is a challenge to the constitutionality of the laws by some parties, Some parties are in the support of the laws and then there are residents and concerned citizens of Delhi NCR as one party.
SC maintained in its detailed judgement that many rounds of talks have taken place and that no solution has been arrived at. SC also said that many deaths have taken place due to cold or suicide. Interesting to note that SC clearly said that deaths haven’t taken place by violence.
SC acknowledges that the protests have been peaceful and that no untoward incident has taken place. However SC cannot ignore an application filed by one Indian Kisan Union, in I.A. No.3324/2021 in W.P.(C) No.1441/2020 that an organisation by name “Sikhs for Justice”, which is banned for anti- India secessionist movement is financing the agitation. This averment is supported by the learned Attorney General also.
In addition to this SC also mentioned that an application be filed by SKM or protesting farmers for allocation of Ramleela grounds in Delhi. SC said that Delhi police has the jurisdictional authority to maintain security on 26th and that the right to admission in Delhi can only be decided by Delhi Police. Court sought Delhi police’s report on security and concerns around farmers as well. SC listed in its judgement various other petitions filed in pro and anti laws categories.
Holding the implementation of three farm laws, SC said “While we may not stifle a peaceful protest, we think that this extraordinary order of stay of implementation of the farm laws will be perceived as an achievement of the purpose of such protest at least for the present and will encourage the farmers bodies to convince their members to get back to their livelihood, both in order to protect their own lives and health and in order to protect the lives and properties of others. Matter to be listed in 8 weeks.”
Discontent with Supreme Court
Within minutes of pronouncement of the 4 member committee by SC, social media was abuzz with the articles and pro laws stand of the four people. This was surprising to many but farmers unions were not surprised and everyone hailed the decision to stay away from SC as a wise one.
Supreme Court and judiciary in india faces lack of trust from common man. The SC has played into the side of ruling govt many a times to create such an image for itself. Surprisingly it even lives up to that image all the time. Many people have zero trust in SC proceedings. 9 out of 10 farmers at Tikri Border told me that they have no confidence in the Supreme Court of india. 7 out of the 10 students I spoke to told me that they have no confidence in SC. The sample space might be too small to make wide assumptions about SC but a slight look at the past record of SC tells its tales.
I have always believed that courts sing the tunes of who ever sits in Delhi Takht. Right from Aurangzeb to Indira Gandhi, everyone in the court’s sang to what Supreme master commanded or wished. I don’t need to remind anyone about the Chief Justices and their promotions to atmospheric levels after they shielded out Rajiv and many others in 1984 cases. It is therefore intellectually wrong to say that only BJP is doing this. Yes we live in this era and we are impacted by this, this is the time india needs to get out of the loop where we have made judiciary as a toilet paper of the ruling party.
Farmers Unions concerns on Supreme Court
The biggest concern and the legit one is that unions have never approached the Supreme Court. As a matter of fact when BKU lakhowal filed petition in Supreme Court back in October, the 13 farmer unions met and decided that BKU will withdraw the petition. The reasons are simple and not so hard to understand.
1. Central government has no right to make laws in the state subject and as such filing petition means challenging the constitutionality of the laws which has cleverly been wrapped in trade allowing the concurrence to override. The courts as such mean that decision to obey the law would be binding.
2. Central government has made zero consultations with the farmers before passing the laws and that the president of India should have taken a legal view of the laws before giving his assent. Farmers say that SC is hand in glove in getting the laws passed in the first place. Farmers quote many other examples of trampling of constitution of india. The concerns therefore are bigger than the laws, the concerns are that our constitution is in danger.
Supreme Court has not been able to prevent government from calling off the parliament in 2020 when farmers were sitting on the borders of Delhi. Farmers don’t see the concern of Supreme Court today as something more than tears of crocodiles. If SC was really concerned about farmers, it could have asked for parliament session.
Supreme Court has pretended to be an angry parent in front of the neighbors today in its proceedings. It was very much like denying chocolate to your son in front of neighbors kid and keeping that chocolate in the fridge for your child to have it later. Supreme Court did not ask any hard questions today in its proceedings. No questions like
1. Why were the laws passed during Pandemic?
2. How is Swaminathan commission even implemented with A2+FL as govt claims?
3. What was the parliamentary proceedings and why couldn’t New session be held to pass it with proper vote?
4. Who ordered digging of roads in HR? Why were farmers stopped at multiple locations by water cannons and tear gas shells?
5. Why has govt remained unsuccessful in explaining any of the benefit to unions in the 8 meetings?
It is important that we work to establish the faith in judiciary of this nation because it is the farmers bills today, it could be any other Bill tomorrow. Worshipping the Prime Minister Unless he is is immortal is not going to solve the problems of bigger section of the country. The alienation campaigns to defend the inefficiency of government and its institutions is self damaging in the long run and history is proof of it.