Farmers shout slogans as they take part in a demonstration against the recent agricultural reforms.
Gulf Today Report
India’s top court offered on Wednesday to set up a mediation panel to immediately remove the farmers who are protesting at several border points of Delhi against three new farm laws since November 26.
The Supreme Court heard a batch, Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justice AS Bopanna and Justice V Ramasubramanian, of pleas seeking direction to end a three-week protest by tens of thousands of farmers who are demanding the repeal of new agricultural reform laws that they say will drive down crop prices and devastate their earnings.
The apex court bench issued notice to the Centre and the governments of Punjab, Haryana and Delhi on the batch of pleas and granted permission to implead farmer organisations. The SC court is seeking their views on the proposal and set on Thursday for a possible decision.
Farmers take part in a demonstration against the recent agricultural reforms. File photo
India’s Supreme Court expressed its intention to set up a committee comprising representatives of farmers unions across India, government and other stakeholders to resolve this issue "because this will soon become a national issue and with government, it won't work out it seems".
The farmers have been blocking half a dozen major highways on the outskirts of New Delhi for three weeks and say they won’t leave until the government quashes what they call the "black laws” passed by Parliament in September.
"Your negotiations with protesting farmers have not worked apparently until now,” the Press Trust of India news agency cited the judges as telling government Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta.
Apart from blocking the movement of people, the massive protest has dealt a blow to manufacturing and business in northern India.
The farmers have been blocking half a dozen major highways on the outskirts of New Delhi.
The farmers say the laws will lead to the cartelization and commercialization of agriculture and make farmers vulnerable to corporate greed.
Protest leaders have rejected the government’s offer to amend some contentious provisions of the laws.
The farmers fear the government will stop buying grain at minimum guaranteed prices and corporations will then push prices down. The government says it is willing to pledge that guaranteed prices will continue.
Nearly 60% of the Indian population depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government insists the reforms will benefit farmers. It says they will allow farmers to market their produce and boost production through private investment.
On Friday, a farmers’ group filed a petition with the Supreme Court seeking the repeal of the three laws. The Bharatiya Kisan Union, or Indian Farmers’ Union, argued that the laws were arbitrary because they were enacted without proper consultations with stakeholders.
Tens of thousands of farmers have been camped on the outskirts of the capital, New Delhi, for almost two months, protesting against what they say are laws designed to benefit large private buyers at the expense of growers.
Three sensitive issues on which Prime Minister Narendra Modi pushed controversial laws through Parliament are caught in messy situations. The issues are farm sector reforms, citizenship norms and status of Jammu and Kashmir.
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A former court assistant accused chief justice Ranjan Gogoi of having made unwanted sexual advances last year, the most high-profile case in a wave of sexual harassment accusations after a #metoo movement swept the country.
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The closure is set to be effective from 6 p.m. (1400 GMT) on Monday, it is in line with the country’s effort to curb the spread of coronavirus.