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Opinion

‘Talk to each other’: Supreme Court allows farmers to continue protest

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On Thursday, the Supreme Court allowed farmers gathered at the Delhi borders to continue their protest against the three contentious laws that seek to open up agricultural trade, emphasizing that protesting against a law is a fundamental right.

A bank headed by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India (CJI) SA Bobde rejected a request from the Center and some petitioners, refusing to restrict farmers as long as the protests are not violent and do not cause damage to the life and property of other citizens.

At the same time, the caucus implored farmers and the government to “talk to each other” as it stressed that each protest must also pave the way for a “meaningful discussion” between the two sides.

“We clarify that this Court will not interfere with the protest in question … We believe at this stage that the protest of the peasants should be allowed to continue unimpeded and without any breach of the peace by either the protesters or the police” , Ordered the bench, which included Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.

The order came after top defender Harish Salve argued on behalf of a Delhi resident that protesters ‘blockades have held the entire national capital hostage and violate other citizens’ fundamental right of movement.

Salve argued that no right was absolute and that the right to protest cannot be extended to deny others their right to move freely or the right to life, given that farmers have come en masse and increased the risk of infection by the coronavirus. . He added that commodity prices had also risen due to restrictions on the free movement of goods vehicles.

“We are all Indians and we know their problems. We also sympathize with their cause. But you (the farmers) must change the way you protest. And we can tell you that we will make sure a discussion takes place through an independent and impartial committee. We will have experts from the field of agriculture on this committee, ”said the bank.

But due to the absence of most of the farmers’ unions leading the protests, the bank was unable to proceed with the constitution of a committee of representatives from both sides to discuss and resolve the dispute.

Later on Thursday, the Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar tried to dispel the doubts of protesting farmers in a passionate letter to them, reiterating his commitment to solve the problems and a written guarantee on minimum prices. support established by the state. He said that some political forces had created confusion to derail the reforms.

“I belong to a farmer’s family and since childhood I have experienced the hard life of farmers. It is very satisfying that after the implementation of the law, the MSP hiring has set a new record this time, ”Tome wrote.

The farmers’ unions said at a press conference at the Singhu border protest site that they would consult high-level lawyers on the Supreme Court proceedings before making any decision on whether to “implement” as a party to the matter.

“All the farmers unions met today and we have decided that we will consult four Supreme Court attorneys – Prashant Bhushan, Dushyant Dave, HS Phoolka and Colin Gonsalves – on the ongoing proceedings in the Supreme Court … We will not comment on the issue or announce any decision without consulting these lawyers, ”said Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh coordinator KV Biju.

In the Supreme Court, Attorney General Venugopal, who appeared for the Center, drew a parallel with a “war situation” while complaining that protesters had blocked all major entry points into the capital.

“They need to dissolve, go back to their villages and we can talk to their leaders. The damage done in the last 22 days is enormous. Worst of all is that they are here, rubbing shoulders despite the Covid situation. When they return to their villages, they will spread the infection in Punjab, Haryana, etc. They will be a danger to themselves and to others as well, ”Venugopal told the bank.

In an attempt to end what it called a “stalemate,” the bank observed: “A protest has to have a purpose. You can’t just sit in a protest and then do nothing. We understand that it is a perfectly constitutional protest. It has a purpose; a goal, but that goal cannot be achieved simply by sitting in protest. They have to talk to each other; it doesn’t matter even if it fails. And we want to facilitate this. “

The court postponed the hearing until after fifteen days to wait for the farmers’ unions to come forward and present their views. He also requested comments from the other parties on the constitution of the committee, while making it clear in his order that “the processing of these matters will not prevent the parties from resolving the matter amicably.”

The process witnessed a reluctance on the part of the government to promise the suspension of the laws before the processing of the matter before the CS. When asked by the court if the government is willing to ensure that the operation and executive actions under the new laws can be suspended, both the attorney general and the attorney general refrained from offering such commitments.

“We cannot do it (suspend the laws). Also, if we do, the farmers will not come to speak, ”Venugopal said. Attorney General Tushar Mehta said “it will be difficult” to give a guarantee like this.

The attorney general regretted that the unions’ demand is to repeal the laws and insist that they do not want to discuss them clause by clause. “They (the unions) or the committee (to be created by the court) should discuss the clauses so that we can identify exactly what the problem is. It can’t be like repealing all laws or nothing, ”he said.

The bank responded that it was forced to observe a day ago that negotiations between the government and farmers’ unions are destined to fail again in light of recent events.

When Venugopal said that the problem was not being solved due to the “firm stance” of the farmers, the bank responded: “They will think you are inflexible.”

The court also told Venugopal and Mehta that until such time as this protest is constitutional and does not turn violent, the police should be equally obliged not to use any violent means. “You (the police) cannot initiate violence nor can you blockade the city,” he added.

Meanwhile, activist AP Singh, representing a faction of the Bhartiya Kisan Union, (BKU-Bhanu), demanded that farmers be allowed into Delhi and allowed to protest at Ramlila Maidan.

But this plea was quickly rejected by the bank: “Who is here on the court or on the scene to ensure that there will be no injury to anyone or destruction of property if allowed? Isn’t it up to the police to decide these issues based on relevant input as a matter of public order? The courts do not have the means to control a mob that is raging. This is for the police to decide. “

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