The Supreme Court on Monday, 18 January, adjourned the Centre’s petition filed through the Delhi Police - seeking an injunction on the farmers’ tractor rally that is scheduled for Republic Day - to Wednesday. The court indicated that entry into Delhi is a law and order issue, which they cannot address, with the Chief Justice of India adding that the court's intervention on this aspect appears to be misunderstood.
The rally planned by the agitating farmers, in protest of the three contentious farm laws, is intended to build pressure on the central government against the implementation of what the farmers call ‘anti-farm’ laws.
The Centre had moved the Supreme Court last week, 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, and any disruption would be “a huge embarrassment for the nation”.
The farmers have been camping at Delhi’s borders in the brutal winter for the past 54 days in protest to the three laws. On Sunday, the farm unions announced that they would carry out the rally peacefully on the Outer Ring road, away from the Republic Day parade at Rajpath.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday had stayed the three controversial farm laws and formed the four-member committee to look into the grievances of the farmers.
Farm Unions Refuse to Meet SC-Appointed Committee
The farm unions coordinating the protests at the Singhu and Tikri borders have refused to meet the committee appointed by the Court in light of the composition of the members of the committee.
Bhupinder Singh Mann, the National President of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Mann) and Chairman of the All India Kisan Coordination Committee (AIKCC) on Thursday, 14 January, recused himself from the 4-member committee constituted by the Supreme Court to take over negotiations with the farmers and "solve the problem".
In a statement to the press, Mann, who heads his own faction of the BKU, wrote that while he was thankful to the apex court for nominating him to the committee, he was recusing himself “in view of the prevailing sentiments and apprehensions amongst the farm unions and the public, in general”.
Apart from Mann, the other three members on the committee are Ashok Gulati, an agricultural economist, Anil Ghanwat, President of Shetkari Sangathana, and Pramod Kumar Joshi of the International Food Policy Research Institute.
What is common among them is that they have spoken or written in support of the farm laws, leading to questions being raised about the impartiality of the committee.
The ninth round of talks between the Centre and the farmers’ unions over the three contentious agriculture laws concluded on Friday, 15 January, with Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar saying they were not decisive. The next round of talks will be held at 12 pm on Tuesday, 19 January.