The Supreme Court on Tuesday, 12 January, issued a notice on the Delhi Police's application seeking to stop the tractor rally planned by protesting farmers on Republic Day.
As the farmers have been planning a tractor march on 26 January to lodge their complaint against the farm laws, the Centre had moved the Supreme Court on Monday, seeking an injunction to restrain any vehicle protest march, including tractors and trolleys, in Delhi on Republic Day. It stated that the right to protest is subject to countervailing public order or interest.
In an affidavit filed through the Delhi Police, the Centre said: “Any disruption or obstruction in the said functions would not only be against the law and order, public order, public interest but would also be a huge embarrassment for the nation,” according to IANS.
The application added that it had been informed via security agencies that a small group of protesting individuals or organisations have planned to carry out a tractor march on Republic Day, quoted PTI.
Contesting that this trolley march would disrupt State-orchestrated celebrations and may be bound to create a massive law and order situation, the affidavit stated, “The right to protest is always subject to the countervailing public order and the public interest. The right to protest can never include maligning the nation globally,” reported IANS.
Stating that the Republic Day ceremony has its own constitutional as well as historical significance, the affidavit added that it is not an “isolated standalone ceremony, rather a grand rehearsal held on 23rd January where everything which is to happen on 26th January of each year is rehearsed," according to IANS.
Farm Laws Result of Two Decades of Deliberations
The Centre on Monday also filed another affidavit in the Supreme Court, stating that the farm laws were not hurriedly made but are the result of two decades of deliberations, and their repeal is not justifiable or acceptable.
The Centre told the Supreme Court that it has been actively and intensively engaging with the states for about two decades to introduce reforms to provide accessible and barrier-free market system for better price realisation, but the states either showed reluctance to adopt the reforms in true spirit or made partial or cosmetic reforms.
"The Central government has done its best to engage with the farmers to remove any misapprehensions or misgivings in the minds of the farmers and no efforts have been found lacking," said the affidavit filed by Agriculture and Farmer Welfare Secretary, according to IANS.
The Centre said it has taken all conceivable steps to ensure that specific grievances of some farmers who are agitating are discussed and sorted out. "It is submitted that the Acts have received wide acceptance throughout the country and, therefore, some farmers and others objecting to the law had put a condition of its repeal, is neither justifiable nor acceptable," said the affidavit.
SC Pulls up Centre
Chief Justice of India SA Bobde on Monday, 11 January, said the court was “extremely disappointed” with the Centre over its approach to the farmers protests, and reiterated its intent to form an expert committee to examine the concerns raised by farmers against the Centre’s controversial farm laws.
The court will pass an interim order regarding a stay on the implementation of the farm laws on Tuesday, 12 January, when the case has been listed next.
“We don’t know what consultation was done before the enactment of these laws,” the CJI said during the hearing, adding that a “whole state was up in arms.”
The CJI castigated the central government for repeatedly saying it was engaged with discussions with the farmers – Attorney General KK Venugopal said new talks were scheduled for 15 January during this hearing as well – and yet was not engaging with the farmers.
The Chief Justice added that if the Centre was not willing to stay the implementation of the laws themselves, the apex court would do so, which would allow better negotiations with the farmers and ensure the expert committee set up by the court could properly address the concerns over the law.
Since 26 November, thousands of farmers have been protesting against the three farm laws – Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 – at the borders of the national capital.
Earlier, on 17 December 2019, the top court allowed the agitation to continue "without impediment", citing the right to protest as a fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution. The apex court had also recommended the Centre and farm unions engage in consultation to come forward with an amicable solution.
(With inputs from IANS and PTI.)
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