The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday (January 12) suspended the implementation of three farm laws until further notice and set up a committee comprising experts to facilitate talks between the Union government and farmer unions to help resolve the impasse. However, farmer leaders are not amused by the judgment.
The leaders said they are not willing to appear before the committee. In response, the SC bench said those “genuinely interested” in finding a solution would cooperate with the committee. “This is not politics. There is a difference between politics and judiciary and you will have to cooperate,” the bench, headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde and also comprising justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
The farmers view it as “an order” from the government. Jaspreet Singh, a member of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) Punjab, told The Federal that the government used the Supreme Court to do what it wanted to do eventually. Singh said, “The government always wanted to constitute a committee, but we have been rejecting its demand. We just wanted the repeal of the three farm laws. What does a committee have to do with this? It is simply a waste of time.”
Labh Singh, who is associated with BKU Ugrahan, said the apex court has put a stay, not repealed the laws, as was the farmers’ demand. “While we were demanding a repeal of farm laws, the court has just put a stay, that, too, not indefinite. They can bring them back at any time. The court is trying to give an impression that it has given a decision in our favour, but the decision is actually in support of the government,” he said.
Manav Sidhu, a farmer from Khanna, said the SC ruling could be a trap. “They will keep giving us dates now and will delay the repeal of laws. We have seen in the past that the SC gives all the decisions in favour of the government. We don’t want these laws and we will go back home only after the laws are repealed,” he said.
‘Will not take part in any committee’
A day earlier on Monday (January 11), the court had hinted at constituting a committee to resolve the issue, but the farmer unions had told the court they won’t be a part of any panel the Supreme Court might form in an attempt to resolve the deadlock.
“While all organisations welcomed the SC suggestion to stay the implementation of farm laws, they are collectively and individually not willing to participate in any proceedings before the SC-appointed committee,” the Sanyukta Kisan Morcha said in a statement.
“After the judgment, we met our lawyers and after deliberating on the pros and cons of being a part of the committee, we said that we are not ready to go before any committee that may be appointed by the SC,” said union leader Darshan Pal.
Harendra Singh Lakhwal, president of BKU Punjab, said the committee has nothing to do with the repeal of laws. “We will not settle for anything less than repeal of laws. The formation of a committee will only be a waste of time because we don’t want any amendments or discussions. The 4 lakh farmers sitting at Delhi’s border areas don’t want these laws at any cost,” Lakhwal said.
Surjeet Singh Phul of BKU Krantikari said, “On January 8, during the eighth round of talks, we told the government that you should remove these laws. The SC has nothing to do with the matter. We also told the government that if the SC gives an order against the farmers, we will go against the SC and are ready to take the punishment.
“The protesting farmers are represented by 500 unions and 40 leaders from all over the country. How can 3 or 4 people be a part of the committee? It is simply a divide and rule tactic,” he said.