Farmers’ protest: SC issues notice on plea seeking reconstitution of Committee

The top court however, slammed the submissions made by Farmers' Union for maligning and branding the committee members as biased

Supreme court
Image: Live Law

In two important developments, the Supreme Court has issued notice on a plea for reconstitution of the committee to resolve the deadlock between the farmers and the State. Further, the top court has also allowed the Delhi Police to withdraw its application that sought an injunction against the tractor rally proposed to be carried out by farmers in Delhi on Republic Day as a sign of protest against the farm laws.

According to LiveLaw, the Bench headed by CJI SA Bobde remarked, “The norm is that police decide if permission should be granted or not. You are the executive of the country and have the authority to take the decision. You have powers to pass appropriate orders, please do that. The Court cannot interfere. We will not keep it pending.”

On January 18, the top court had orally observed that it is for the Delhi police to decide on the entry of farmers and that the Court cannot be expected to pass orders on such a law-and-order issue.

Prashant Bhushan, who was representing eight farmer unions submitted that the farmers don’t want to be part of the committee. When asked his opinion on the matter, the lawyer representing Kisan Mahapanchayat said that the committee members have expressed their views in support of the farm laws in the past. Kisan Mahapanchayat had filed an application to reconstitute the Committee.

CJI came down heavily on this submission and reportedly said, “Aspersions are cast unnecessarily. Expressing opinions in different contexts doesn’t mean disqualification. BS Mann asked for modifications of laws. Branding people like this, we don’t appreciate it. Even judges express views during hearing. That doesn’t mean they can’t decide Committee has not been given powers to adjudicate. Committee was asked to listen to protesters and give us a report. Where is the question of bias in that?”



He further said, “If you don’t want to appear before the committee, we cannot compel you. But you cannot malign people like this and cast aspersions on them and also the court. If you don’t want to appear, don’t appear. Why do you need to brand people like this? How can you play with people’s reputation like this? We have serious objections to them being called biased and in saying the court was having an interest. You malign people according to the majority opinion?”

The CJI further remarked, “The basis of your application is that all four people are disqualified. How do you come to that conclusion? They are brilliant minds in the field of agriculture. They are experts. How do you malign them because they have expressed some views in the past? The Supreme Court appoints a committee and their reputation is torn to shreds!”



However, the Supreme Court issued a notice on the application filed by Kisan Mahapanchayat seeking reconstitution of the committee constituted on January 12 to listen to grievances of protesting farmers. The court further reiterated that the Committee has not been given any adjudicatory powers and the purpose of it is to just hear the farmers and file a report in the Court.

The CJI, also urged Prashant Bhushan to counsel his clients who don’t want to be a part of the committee, in order to bring peace. “We want a resolution of the dispute”, CJI Bobde said. But Prashant Bhushan contended that the farmers are “totally convinced” that they want the laws repealed and that they don’t want to discuss amendments. “Laws were passed without discussions and without even voting in Rajya Sabha”, Bhushan added.



The top court was then apprised that the proposed tractor rally will be peaceful. But Attorney General KK Venugopal opined that 5,000 tractors could be a menace and cannot be possibly maintained by the roads in the city. But the CJI noted:

“We trust Mr. Bhushan’s statement that his clients want to do it peacefully. Mr. AG, you ask the authorities and the unions how it is going to be peaceful. These are matters purely in the domain of the executive.” The AG believed Prashant Bhushan’s submissions too but remarked that the “Police will take a call” on the proposed tractor rally.

The Bench comprising the CJI and Justices Bopanna and Ramasubramanian had announced the formation of a Committee comprising Bhupinder Singh Mann, Pramod Kumar Joshi, Ashok Gulati, Anil Ghanwant to resolve the farmers’ dispute on January 12 after which many people including several farmer unions expressed their displeasure as the four members had allegedly conveyed their support of the laws in the past.

Following the controversy, S. Bhupinder Singh Mann, National President of Bharatiya Kisan Union and Chairman of All India Kisan Coordination Committee had recused himself from the committee. The court, noting that BS Mann has resigned from the Committee which resulted in a vacancy, directed the appointment of a retired Supreme Court judge in his place.



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