Article written by Ms. Monika Sharma, Registered Indian Patent Agent, Patent Facilitator under SIPP Scheme, Law student at Mewar law Institute
FARMER’S PROTEST OVERVIEW:
Recently, due to the introduction of the three new agricultural ordinances by the government, the farmer unions have shown their agitation by holding numerous convoys on tractors in Delhi and protests at the Delhi Punjab borders to uphold their demands.
The farmers demand to repeal the three new controversial farm bills which are hastily introduced by the government in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. These three laws are namely: Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce Act; Farmers Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act. The government has introduced these three farm bills as a remedy to lower the demands caused by the pandemic. Additionally, the government has indicated that these farm bills shall allow the farmers to directly sell and purchase their agricultural produce to the big buyers and shall create a friendly environment between the farmers and the big buyers. However, the farmers and unions are agitated by these laws and call these farm bills as the anti-farmer bills. The farmers believe that the implementation of these bills on the farmers shall leave the farmer’s landholdings, agricultural produce and pricing in the hands of the big corporates and shall slowly cause the removal of the existing relationship of the farmers with the small-scale middlemen/businessmen.
INVOLVEMENT OF SUPREME COURT IN FARMER’S PROTEST:
Due to ongoing farmers protests and violence in the public places, the Supreme court has received many pleas to get relief from the inconvenience caused due to the blockage of the routes in Delhi. In response to a plea submitted by the students of Punjab University in the Supreme Court, the court has passed a decision in January 2021 and put a stay on the implementation of the controversial agricultural laws for the time being and decided to set up an impartial four-member committee to take forward and discuss the negotiations between both the parties and resolve the deadlock between the government and the protesting farmers. This decision passed by the Supreme Court has received many criticisms.
Although, the Supreme court has acknowledged the farmer’s right to protest but added that the protests should be non-violent and added that the protests should not hamper other’s fundamental right to move freely. The Supreme court has passed the orders of setting an independent panel of agricultural experts and farmer union in order to resolve the impasse between the farmers and the union government.
The constituted committee involves the following four members, namely:
- Bhupinder Singh Mann (National President, Bhartiya Kisan Union and All India Kisan Coordination Committee)
- Dr. Pramod Kumar Joshi (Agricultural economist, Director for South Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute)
- Ashik Gulati (Agricultural economist and former Chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices) and;
- Anil Ghanwat (President, Shetkari Sanghatana)
In response to the involvement of the Supreme Court in the farmer’s protests, initially the farmers refused to appear before the committee and called the committee partial. The Farmers have filed a plea in the Supreme Court to reconstitute the appointed committee to initiate the discussion with the protesting farmers.
The farmer unions have demanded that these laws should be repealed, and the major concerns of the protesting farmers are that the implementation of these farm laws shall gradually remove the Minimum Standard Price (MSP) and therefore demanding the government to legally ensure that the MSP should not be removed. Thus, the farmers are demanding to make MSP legal so as to ensure that purchase of their agricultural produce at MSP shall not be abolished gradually with the involvement of big buyers.
The other major concern of the farmers is the removal of the Mandi system which will gradually deteriorate and ultimately end the Mandi system, the price of the agricultural produce shall gradually increase, the removal of the conventional procurement system, the removal of electricity ordinance, centre interference in state matters, punishments and fines for stubble burning etc. The farmers believe that the farmer’s landholdings will also be unsecured due to these laws.
The farmers believe that the laws will open the sale and marketing of the agricultural products outside the (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) APMCs mandis for the farmers. The farmers believe that the removal of the APMCs shall encourage the abolishment of purchase of the agricultural produce at the Minimum Support Price. Furthermore, the laws will allow inter-state trade and encourage a hike in the electronic trading of agricultural produce.
At the outset, the farmers believe that the Supreme court order to put stay for the time being has given the government a setback while not addressing the concerns of the protesting farmers. The farmers believe that appointing a committee the Supreme Court has shifted the burden on the farmers to stop their protests or else they will appear unreasonable. The farmers have refused to appear before the committee constituted by the Supreme Court and filed a plea to reconstitute the committee to initiate the talks with the protesting farmers.