Who Stands Where On Farm Laws In Supreme Court
A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice of India Arvind Bobde, has set up a committee in a bid to resolve the ongoing stalemate on protests against the three farm laws.
The court is hearing several petitions and in the last two days, multiple lawyers argued on behalf of:
- Petitioners who have challenged the constitutional validity of three laws.
- Groups supporting the laws.
- Delhi residents who moved the court against road blockade.
Here's who is arguing what:
Petitions In Supreme Court
The top court is hearing three sets of petitions:
The first set challenges the constitutional validity of the three farm laws in question: Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020; and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020. The petitioners include members of Parliament Tiruchi Siva and Manoj Jha.
The second category is of the farmer associations who have expressed support for the law. These include the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh; and the Consortium of Indian Farmers Association.
The last category includes petitions by a few residents of Delhi and neighbouring states who have approached the court arguing that the protests and blockade of roads have affected their right to move freely and conduct their trade and business.
It is this last set of petitions that prompted the court to hear the matter and direct the constitution of a committee of experts to facilitate dialogue between the protesting farmers and the central government. To be clear, no arguments on the issue of constitutionality have yet been made.
Who Said What
The farmer unions protesting on the outskirts of Delhi have not approached the court. But they engaged a team of lawyers including Senior Advocates Dushyant Dave, HS Phoolka and Colin Gonsalves; and Advocate Prashant Bhushan after the court sought their opinion on setting up a committee. The lawyers appeared on Monday and the court asked them if the farmer unions protest will join committee deliberations.
Dave said that they will seek a response from the unions on this matter. The lawyers, however, were absent in the hearing the next day (Tuesday), as mentioned in the Supreme Court order.
Later in the day, these unions announced in a press conference that they won't appear before the committee.
An intervention application filed by the Indian Kisan Union alleged that a banned organisation named ‘’Sikhs for Justice’’ is financing the agitation. The Attorney General agreed and the top court asked the government to file an affidavit.
Who Argued For Whom
For those who have challenged the farm laws:
- Senior Advocate P Wilson is appearing for DMK lawmaker Siva as well as a section of farmers from Tamil Nadu. He welcomed the proposal to stay the implementation of the laws and said his clients will appear before the committee.
- Advocate AP Singh appeared for Bhartiya Kisan Union [BHANU] and told the court that representatives of the union will speak to the committee and that women, children and senior citizens at the protest site will be requested to go back as the Chief Justice of India had wanted. However, Yogendra Yadav contested this on social media and accused Singh of lying to the court.
- Advocate Ajay Choudhary, representing Kisan Mahapanchayat, told the court the members protesting at the borders of Rajasthan were willing to appear before the committee.
For the groups in support of the laws:
- Senior Advocate V Chitambaresh, representing the Bhartiya Kisan Sangh, told the court that their organisation was not aggrieved by the farm laws in question. The body is affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological parent of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
- A consortium of Indian Farmers Association claimed to represent 15 farmer unions across 15 states and was represented by Advocate Sridhar Potaraju, who opposed a stay on the implementation of the laws. The association told the court that the farmers they represent cultivate fruits and vegetables and that about 21 million tonnes of produce will rot if a stay was granted.
For various governments:
The central government was represented by its senior-most law officers including Attorney General for India KK Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.
Senior Advocates P Chidambaram is representing the government of Punjab—a state that has expressed opposition to the new laws. The Delhi government is being represented by Advocate Rahul Mehra.
For a Delhi resident:
Senior Advocate Harish Salve is representing a Delhi citizen who approached the court against the protest, arguing that the blockade was affecting his right of movement and trade and business.
What Happens Next
The Supreme Court earlier issued notice on the petitions challenging the validity of the laws but the hearing as of now is only limited to the issue of farmer protests.
The court granted the committee two months to carry out discussions and submit a report.
The court will then take up the case. The date of hearing for the petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the laws is not known yet.