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Farmers' Protest: SC asks Centre to explore possibility of putting three farm laws on hold

News Agencies | Updated on: 17 December 2020, 16:17 IST

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Central government to explore the possibility of putting on hold the three farm laws, against which farmers are protesting at different borders of the national capital.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde asked Attorney General KK Venugopal if the government can assure the court that it will not take any executive action on implementation of the law till the court hears the matter.

"What kind of executive action? Farmers will not come for discussion if this happens," Venugopal said. To this, the CJI said it is to enable the discussion.

The bench said notices have to go to all the protesting farmers' bodies and suggested that the case can be placed before a vacation bench of the court during the winter break. Venugopal said notice has to be served to all the farmers' representatives who have been part of the talks with the government so far.

During the hearing, the Chief Justice observed that a protest is constitutional until it does not destroy property or endanger life and remarked that the purpose of the farmers' protest cannot be realised by demonstrating without engaging in discussions.

The bench also said it was considering setting up an impartial and independent committee that will hear both sides and submit its findings.

"The protest is constitutional till it does not destroy property or endanger life. It is an absolutely perfect protest. But the purpose cannot be realised if they could continue to sit without talking. The Centre and the farmers have to talk," CJI Bobde said.

The bench said the farmers have a right to protest and it will not interfere with the same, but added that it will ask the Central government to slightly alter the manner in which the protest is being held to ensure it does not affect the citizens' right to movement.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Central government, suggested people of eminence facilitate dialogue between the farmers and the Centre instead of constituting a committee.

"We need someone who can break the ice. I am suggesting that instead of a committee adjudicating let there be people of eminence who can facilitate the dialogue. We have solutions issue wise to farmers. We have given them in writing too," Mehta said.

Advocate AP Singh, appearing for the Bharathiya Kisan Union (Bhanu), asked why can't the Ramlila Maidan be given to the farmers to protest?

The CJI observed that the court cannot determine whether the protesters can maintain peace in Ramlila Maidan or not. "We have to leave it to the police," said CJI Bobde.

The bench, which was hearing a batch of pleas against the farmers' protest at different borders of the national capital, said it will not decide the validity of the laws as of now. "The first and the only thing we will decide today is regarding the farmers' protest and the fundamental right of citizens to move. The question of the validity of laws can wait," it said.


First published: 17 December 2020, 16:17 IST