23:28 (IST)

Sonia Gandhi in touch with Opposition leaders for joint par strategy

Ahead of the Budget Session of Parliament this month, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi is in touch with leaders of various opposition parties who will soon meet to chalk out their joint strategy to corner the government on farm laws, sources said on Monday.

Sonia is learnt to have started talking to opposition leaders for holding a joint meeting of various parties ahead of the session.

The sources said Sonia has spoken to some opposition leaders on Monday and will talk to some others on Tuesday to chalk out a joint strategy to corner the government on the farm laws and the state of the economy.

22:18 (IST)

Haryana Congress demands ML Khattar’s resignation over Karnal event

The Congress on Monday demanded that Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar resign as he has “lost the faith of the people” and the moral authority to rule after farmers did not allow his chopper to land during an event in Karnal.

Agitating farmers had on Sunday ransacked the venue of the ‘kisan mahapanchayat’ programme at Kaimla village in Karnal, where Khattar was to address the gathering to highlight the “benefits” of the three contentious central agriculture laws.

Khattar had accused BKU (Charuni) president Gurnam Singh Charuni, the Congress and Communists for “instigating” people.

21:53 (IST)

Bhupinder Hooda says Khattar should convince Centre to repeal farm laws

Senior Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda on Monday asked Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar to convince the Centre to repeal the new farm laws instead of proposing to hold programmes like in Karnal. Agitating farmers had on Sunday ransacked the venue of the ‘kisan mahapanchayat’ programme at Kaimla village in Karnal, where Khattar was to address the gathering to highlight the “benefits” of the three contentious central agriculture laws.

The Haryana Police had used water cannons and lobbed teargas shells to prevent the farmers from marching towards Kaimla village. The farmers, however, managed to reach the venue and damage a makeshift helipad where Khattar’s chopper was to land despite elaborate security arrangements made by police.

21:20 (IST)

Won’t participate in proceedings of SC-appointed committe, say farmers groups

As per reports, farmers group said they will not participate in the proceedings of a Supreme Court-appointed committee. “We met our lawyers this evening at length and after deliberation on pros and cons of the suggestions of the committee, we informed them that we are unanimously not agreeable to go before any committee” CNBC-TV18 quotes Samyukta Kisan Morcha as saying.

20:34 (IST)

Delegation of 500 farmers leaves from Kerala

A delegation of 500 farmers from  Kerala left for Delhi on Monday by bus to join their counterparts at the borders of Delhi, who have been protesting against the contentious farm laws since 26 November last year. The farmers, belonging to’Kerala Karshaka Sangham’, the state chapter of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), one of the organisations at the forefront of the protest.  AIKS vice president S Ramachandra Pillai flagged off the bus, which is expected to reach Delhi on 14 January.They would participate in the protest at Shahjahanpur, one of the venues.

PTI

19:56 (IST)

Prime Minister should apologise to farmers: Congress

The Congress on Monday demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi apologise to the farmers of the country and repeal the three farm laws which are being opposed by them, after the Supreme Court rapped the Centre over the handling of the agitation. Chief Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also urged the apex court to register cases against Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and chief ministers Manohar Lal Khattar and Yogi Adityanath after taking note of their actions that caused damage to public property. He said the central and state governments have dug up roads and caused blockades on the national highways around the National Capital.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi should apologise not only to the families of 65 farmers who have sacrificed themselves, but also to the 62 crore farmers of the country. The prime minister should thereafter talk to the agitating farmers himself and nothing short of it is acceptable to the ‘annadatas’,” he told reporters.

PTI

19:25 (IST)

Two Congress MPs, former Akali leader walk out of par panel meeting on agriculture

Two Congress MPs Partap Singh Bajwa and Chhaya Verma and former Akali leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa on Monday staged a walkout from a meeting of the Standing Committee on Agriculture after the panel chairman refused to discuss Centre’s three farm laws and their aftermath, sources said.Citing the large-scale protests undertaken by various farmer unions that have seen thousands of farmers protest at the borders of Delhi for over 40 days, the three Rajya Sabha MPs raised the issue with the chairman of the standing committee BJP MP P C Gaddigoudar. Due to the refusal of the chairman to allow the situation to be discussed by the committee, the three MPs decided to walk out of the meeting in protest, the sources said.The meeting held at the Parliament annexe building was to take note of the evidence of the representatives of the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying (Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying) in connection with the examination of the Subject “Status of Veterinary Services and Availability of Animal Vaccine in the Country”.
PTI

18:47 (IST)

SC to pronounce order tomorrow

The Supreme Court will pronounce on Tuesday its order on pleas challenging farm laws and those relating to farmers’ protest, reported news agency PTI. Earlier, the court had indicated that the it may pass its order in parts today and tomorrow.

18:28 (IST)

Gurnam Singh Charuni among dozens booked over vandalism at Khattar’s Karnal event

The Haryana Police booked BKU (Charuni) leader Gurnam Singh Charuni and dozens of other protesters for rioting and damaging public property, a day after vandalism at the venue of a farmers’ event which was to be addressed by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. According to a police official in Karnal, where the Kisan mahapanchayat’ was to be held, a case has been registered against 71 people by name, including Gurnam Singh Charuni, while 800-900 unnamed people have also been booked.  They have been booked for rioting, assault on public servant, damaging public property, criminal conspiracy and other charges, police said. The police said they are collecting evidence including video clips in connection with the incident and would take action against those who are found involved in it. However, nobody has been arrested yet, the police official said.
PTI

18:07 (IST)

Centre trying to create famine through farm bills, alleges Mamata Banerjee

The country is staring at a food crisis and famine because of the “adamant” approach of the BJP towards the continued agitation by farmers for withdrawal of the three new farm laws, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Monday.
“Thecountry is staring at a food crisis. There will be famine and food shortage if the BJP continues to remain adamant on the farm laws. The Centre is trying to create famine through these farm bills.”
“The farmers are assets of our country and we should not do anything that goes against their interest,” she said, addressing a TMC rally in Nadia district. The TMC supremo also demanded immediate repeal of the three farm laws as sought by farmers agitating at Delhi’s borders. “We stand by the farmers and their demands. On one hand the BJP is lecturing us on farmers’ issues and on the other it is torturing the farmers who are protesting against the laws. So many farmers were beaten up in Haryana and Punjab,” she alleged.
PTI

17:58 (IST)

BJP govt adopting indifferent attitude towards farmers: Akhilesh Yadav

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav on Monday said the “indifferent” attitude adopted by the BJP government towards farmers is a “direct insult” to them.   “The way the BJP government adopted an indifferent attitude towards farmers by being insensitive to them is a direct insult to ‘annadata’ (farmers). This is extremely condemnable,” Yadav said in a tweet in Hindi. If they can spot smoke elsewhere, why cannot they see the fire at their own home, the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister said.

17:51 (IST)

Protesting farmers breached barricades outside BJP’s protest venue in Jalandhar

Protesting farmers on Sunday broke barricades outside the venue of the Punjab BJP’s protest against the state government, said reports. As per a report by The Tribune, agitating farmers marched towards the venue at the Company Bagh Chowk  in the city and clashed with the police when the latter tried to stop them. The farmers broke barricades and a few of them sustained injuries in the clash, the report said. As per a report in The Indian Express, state BJP chief Ashwani Sharma blamed ‘Congress goons’ for attempting the party’s programme  in the garb of farmers while BKU (Rajwal) general secretary Kulwinder Singh Machhiana, Kashmir Singh and Amarjot Singh Jandiala said the farmers’ protest was peaceful and alleged that the police had deliberately tried to spoil the atmosphere so that the BJP could organise its protest

17:18 (IST)

Sharad Pawar meets Left leaders

NCP president Sharad Pawar met Left leaders Sitaram Yechury and D Raja in New Delhi and discussed the ongoing farmers” agitation, reports news agency PTI. “We did discuss the Supreme Court order, informally. But the decision on what has to be done has to be taken by the farmers. They have to react to it. We stand by their demand for the repeal of the laws,” CPI general secretary D Raja said.

The meeting at Pawar”s residence came on a day the Supreme Court indicated that it may stay the implementation of the contentious farm laws and refused to grant more time to the Centre to explore the possibility of an amicable solution, saying it has already granted the government a “long rope”.

The apex court also said it will constitute a committee headed by a former Chief Justice of India to resolve the impasse. Farmer leaders, however, insisted that they will continue their agitation till the laws are repealed. “We know that they have issued a statement. We will wait for their comprehensive reaction before making a comment,” Raja said.

“We know that they have issued a statement. We will wait for their comprehensive reaction before making a comment,” Raja said.

17:14 (IST)

Farmer leaders to give formal response after SC verdict

Bhog Singh Mansa, president of Indian Farmers Union (Mansa), said, “We appeal to the Supreme Court to terminate these laws as these are not valid constitutionally,” Mansa said, adding the protest will continue till “the laws are repealed or the BJP government completes its tenure”. Punjab Kisan Union president Ruldu Singh Mansa echoed similar sentiments, saying the agitation started with the demand of scrapping the agri laws and “it will end only when we win this fight”. Darshan Pal,president of Krantikari Kisan Union, said the farmer leaders are consulting their lawyers and a formal response will be given after the SC pronounces its verdict.
PTI

16:53 (IST)

Staying implementation of farm laws not a solution, say farmer leaders

Farmer leaders said they would continue their agitation even if the government or the Supreme Court stays the implementation of the new agri laws, reports news agency PTI. The farmer leaders, who said they were “sharing their personal opinion”, were also of the view that a stay is “not a solution” as it is only for a fixed period of time.
“We welcome the Supreme Court observation, but ending the protest is not an option. Any stay is only for a fixed period of time… till the issue is taken up by the court again,” Haryana Bharatiya Kisan Union President Gurnam Singh Chaduni said. The farmers want the laws to be repealed completely. The protest will continue even if the government or the Supreme Court stays their implementation, he said. Bhog Singh Mansa, president of Indian Farmers Union (Mansa), said a stay on the laws is “no big deal”. “A stay is not a solution. We are here to get these laws scrapped completely… the government has in a way already agreed to scrap the laws when it said it is willing to incorporate as many amendments as farmers want,” he said. “We appeal to the Supreme Court to terminate these laws as these are not valid constitutionally,” Mansa said, adding the protest will continue till the “the laws are not repealed or the BJP government completes its tenure”.
PTI

16:30 (IST)

Opposition to meet before Parliament Session, say reports

Congress leader Sonia Gandhi spoke to several Opposition leaders for formulating a joint strategy on the agricultural laws, reports News18, adding that the Opposition is slated to meet for the same before the Parliament Session. The Centre has said that the Winter Session of the Parliamet will not be held and the Budget Session is scheduled for this month. The Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA) has recommended that the Budget session of Parliament commence from 29 January.

16:10 (IST)

Farmers’ Protest LATEST Updates

INLD leader threatens to resign from Haryana Assembly

Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) general secretary Abhay Singh Chautala has written to Haryana Assembly Speaker, saying that in case the Centre does not repeal the farm laws till 26 January, his letter should be considered as his resignation from the state Assembly.

“If by 26 January the Centre does not take back the farm laws, then, this letter should be considered as my resignation from the state Assembly,” the MLA from Ellenabad said in his letter to Assembly Speaker Gian Chand Gupta. Chautala has been extending support to the ongoing agitation by farmers against the newly-enacted three farm laws.

Last week, the INLD leader visited the Tikri border and met the leaders of the farmer organisations who are protesting against the farm laws. He had said that no farmer organisation of the country had demanded the agricultural laws but the Central government brought the “black laws” to benefit the corporate houses.

15:56 (IST)

Update: Farmers call off press conference

As per reports, farmers’ unions have called off a press conference scheduled for today, as the Supreme Court hearing will continue tomorrow. Earlier, reports had said that protesting farmers would hold a press conference at Delhi’s Singhu border, an hour after the SC hearing concludes.

15:41 (IST)

Centre should abandon ‘stubborn’ attitude, says BKU chief

Bharatiya Kisan Union president Naresh Tikait has said the Central Government should abandon its “stubborn” attitude and resolve the issues of farmers through dialogue.Speaking to reporters at the BKU headquarters at Sisoli on Sunday evening, he said farmers are aware that the three new agri laws have been brought by the Centre “to benefit big corporates” and are “against peasants”. He also accused the government of maintaining a stubborn attitude while farmers have long been protesting on roads.
PTI

15:10 (IST)

Farmers’ Protest LATEST Updates

Country staring at food crisis because of BJP: Mamata

The country is staring at a food crisis because of the “adamant” approach of the BJP to the continued agitation by farmers for withdrawal of the three new farm laws, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Monday.

She also called the BJP a “junk” party for inducting “rotten” leaders from other political outfits.

“The country is staring at a food crisis. If the BJP continues to remain adamant on the farm laws, there will be a food shortage in our country. The farmers are assets of our country and we should not do anything that goes against their interest,” she said.

The TMC supremo also demanded the immediate repeal of the three farm laws, as being demanded by farmers agitating at Delhi’s borders.

15:00 (IST)

Farmers’ Protest LATEST Updates

Sachin Pilot reiterates demand for repeal of farm laws

Former Rajasthan deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot on Monday reiterated the demand for withdrawal of new farm laws enacted by the Centre, claiming that the laws were a “threat” to the future of farmers.

The Congress leader made the remarks while interacting with farmers in his constituency Tonk.

“This is a matter related to the future of farmers. All farmer unions and opposition parties are united and demanding withdrawal of the laws. It is not clear what the government’s compulsions to bring these laws were. The laws should be withdrawn,” he told reporters.

“We are making the farmers aware of the disadvantages of the laws. The farmers are agitating peacefully and the government should accept their demands,” Pilot said.

-PTI

14:49 (IST)

Farmers’ Protest LATEST Updates

Farmers can continue protests at Delhi border, says CJI

During the hearing earlier today, CJI SA Bobde said the bench will not alter the previous order that the farmers can continue protesting at key entry points to Delhi in a peaceful manner and clarifies that the court will not decide matters like who should enter Delhi. “It is for the police to decide,” he adds.

14:26 (IST)

Farmers’ Protest LATEST Updates

SC to continue hearing case tomorrow

The apex court will continue hearing the case on Tuesday, according to Bar & Bench.

14:17 (IST)

Farmers’ Protest LATEST Updates

Centre seeks a day’s time to suggest names for committee

“We trust senior advocates like Prashant Bhushan, Dave, Phoolka, Gonsalves, etc will tell the farmers about the real purpose of the Committee. We are not creating an alternative forum”, said CJI Bobde.

Advocate Dave suggests former CJI RM Lodha’s name for the committee, while the Solicitor General seeks a day’s time to suggest names for the committee.

14:09 (IST)

Farmers’ Protest LATEST Updates

Let me take a risk and say CJI wants protesting farmers to go back: SA Bobde

The Supreme Court on Monday, ‘We are proposing to pass an order to facilitate the solution to farm laws problem through a Committee to be appointed by us.’

“Let me take a risk and say Chief Justice of India wants them (protesting farmers) to go back to their homes,” said CJI SA Bobde

13:52 (IST)

Farmers’ Protest LATEST Updates

Court may pass order partially today and in part tomorrow

CJI Bobde lashes out at attorney general when the latter asked him not to pass orders today. “Why not?” asked Bobde. “We have given you a very long rope. Don’t lecture us on patience. We will decide when to pass the order. We might pass in part today and in part tomorrow.”

On the other hand, Solicitor General asks the judges to remove the impression that the Centre has not done enough for the farmers. He says the government gave their best but the farmers were non-cooperative during talks.

13:50 (IST)

Farmers’ Protest LATEST Updates

If court stays law, it will cause loss to 2,000 farmers

The attorney general says the committee proposed by the apex court will be of no use if the farmers cannot tell it what their grievances are and only insist on repealing the laws. He also adds that if the court stays the law it will cause tremendous loss to 2,000 farmers, reports LiveLaw

13:48 (IST)

Farmers’ Protest LATEST Updates

Persuade old people and women to go back home: CJI

CJI asks advocate HS Phoolka to persuade old people and women to go back home

13:36 (IST)

Farmers’ Protest LATEST Updates

SC allows all parties to be heard in the case

13:19 (IST)

Farmers’ Protest LATEST Updates

Form committee but don’t stay laws: Centre tells SC

Arguing for the government, Attorney General KK Venugopal said: “You can form a committee but don’t stay the laws.” He referred to past judgments stating courts can’t hold a law without going into its unconstitutionality.

Venugopal also sought to highlight that “only farmers from two or three states are protesting”, that there was no participation from southern or western India.

The government has, in eight rounds of talks with farmer unions, ruled out withdrawing the laws but has reasserted that it is open to amendments.

He also opposed SC’s suggestion to stay the laws, saying that there are precedents that courts cannot stay legislation. “A law can only be stayed if it’s passed without legislative competence, violates fundamental rights or violates provisions of Constitution.”

13:11 (IST)

Farmers’ Protest LATEST Updates

Farmers will not hold tractor march on 26 January

Advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for a farmers’ group, tells the court that the farmers will not hold the tractor march on 26 January. “We are glad that Dave has said this,” the CJI notes.

13:05 (IST)

Farmers’ Protest LATEST Updates

Don’t want anybody’s blood on our hands, says CJI

“We will stay implementation of farm laws”, said CJI SA Bobde on Monday. “You can carry on the protest. But the question is whether the protest should be held at the same site. Each one of us will be responsible if something goes wrong. We don’t want anybody’s blood on our hands,”  Bobde said while hearing a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the three farm laws.

13:02 (IST)

Farmers’ Protest LATEST Updates

Put farm laws on hold: SC tells Centre

Justice Bobde pulls up the Centre for seeking more time and insisting on implementing the laws. “If you have some sense of responsibility, and if you say you will withhold the implementation of laws, we will form committee to decide,” he says. “We don’t see why there should be an insistence that the laws must be implemented at any cost.”

Chief Justice of India SA Bobde says political parties have placed the court in a delicate situation. “Our intention is clear,” he adds. “We want an amicable solution for the problem. That is why we asked you last time, why don’t you keep the laws on hold. But you are keeping asking on time.”

12:55 (IST)

Farmers’ Protest LATEST Updates

Not a single plea filed has said the farm laws are good: SC

The Bench comprising Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said, “Some people have committed suicide, old people and women are a part of the agitation. What is happening?, said the CJI, and added that not a single plea has been filed that said that the farm laws are good.”

12:53 (IST)

Farmers’ Protest LATEST Updates

CJI refuses to hear on constitutionality of laws

The chief justice lashed out at the attorney general. “We are sorry to say that you, as the Union of India, are not able to solve the problem,” he says. “You have made a law without enough consultation resulting in a strike. So you have to resolve the strike.”

CJI Bobde refused to hear on the constitutionality of the laws. “We will hear at length on the constitutionality later. Not at this moment,” he said.

12:47 (IST)

Farmers’ Protest LATEST Updates

SC proposes to set up committee

The Supreme Court proposes to set up a committee. “We also propose to stay the implementation of the laws. If anyone wants to argue, argue,” it adds.  The apex court also said it will decide on the laws after the committee makes a report. “The court will not pass an order that citizens should not protest,” it adds.

12:37 (IST)

Farmers’ Protest LATEST Updates

We are disappointed with the way the process is going: CJI

Hearing a clutch of petitions challenging the new farm laws as well as the ones raising issues related to the ongoing agitation at Delhi borders, the Supreme Court on Monday said it is disappointed with the way the process is going.

“We don’t know what negotiations are going on? Can the farm laws be put on hold for some time?”, asked the CJI. He added, “We are extremely disappointed with the way Centre is dealing with this. What consultative process has been followed for farm laws that entire states are up in rebellion.”

12:34 (IST)

Farmers’ Protest LATEST Updates

SC begins hearing petition against farm laws

The Supreme Court begins hearing petitions against the three farm laws and the ongoing agitations in Delhi borders, reports Live Law.

12:33 (IST)

Farmers’ Protest LATEST Updates

SC to hear pleas on farm laws today

The Supreme Court will hear a batch of petitions challenging the three farm laws and the farmers agitation on the borders of Delhi today, reports PTI.

The eighth round of talks between the Centre and farm unions on 8 January ended without any resolution to the ongoing stalemate over the repeal of three farm reform laws. The ninth round of talks will be held on 15 January.

During the last hearing, the Supreme Court had pointed out to the government that there had been no breakthrough or improvement in the impasse.

Farmers’ Protest LATEST Updates: The Supreme Court will pronounce on Tuesday its order on pleas challenging farm laws and those relating to farmers’ protest.

Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court bench had asked the Centre, ‘will you hold the laws or should we do it?’ and slammed the manner in which negotiations with the farmers were conducted.

The Haryana Police booked BKU (Charuni) leader Gurnam Singh Charuni and dozens of other protesters for rioting and damaging public property, a day after vandalism at the venue of a farmers’ event which was to be addressed by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.

According to a police official in Karnal, where the Kisan mahapanchayat’ was to be held, a case has been registered against 71 people by name, including Gurnam Singh Charuni, while 800-900 unnamed people have also been booked.

 Farmer leaders said they would continue their agitation even if the government or the Supreme Court stays the implementation of the new agri laws. The farmer leaders, who said they were “sharing their personal opinion”, were also of the view that a stay is “not a solution” as it is only for a fixed period of time.

They were reacting after the Supreme Court indicated that it may stay the implementation of the contentious farm laws and refused to grant more time to the Centre to explore the possibility of an amicable solution saying it has already granted the government a long rope.

As per reports, farmers’ unions have called off a press conference scheduled for today, as the Supreme Court hearing will continue tomorrow.

Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) general secretary Abhay Singh Chautala has written to Haryana Assembly Speaker, saying that in case the Centre does not repeal the farm laws till 26 January, his letter should be considered as his resignation from the state Assembly.

CJI Bobde lashes out at attorney general when the latter asked him not to pass orders today. “Why not?” asked Bobde. “We have given you a very long rope. Don’t lecture us on patience. We will decide when to pass the order. We might pass in part today and in part tomorrow.”

Arguing for the government, Attorney General KK Venugopal said: “You can form a committee but don’t stay the laws.” He referred to past judgments stating courts can’t hold a law without going into its unconstitutionality

The Supreme Court on Monday said it was extremely disappointed with the way talks were going on between the Centre and the farmer unions. The court told the government that it will put the laws on hold if the Centre refuses to do so. The court was hearing a batch of petition challenging the new farm laws as well as the ones raising issues related to the ongoing agitation at Delhi borders.

Amid a deadlock in the government’s negotiations with protesting farmer unions, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Monday a clutch of pleas challenging the new farm laws as well as the ones raising issues related to the ongoing agitation at Delhi borders.

The eighth round of talks between the Centre and the farmer unions on January 7 appeared heading nowhere as the Centre ruled out repealing the contentious laws while the farmer leaders said they are ready to fight till death and their ‘ghar waapsi’ will happen only after ‘law waapsi’.

The Monday hearing on the pleas by a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde assumes significance as the Centre and the farmer leaders are scheduled to hold their next meeting on 15 January.

The top court, which had observed that there is no improvement on the ground regarding farmers’ protests, was told by the Centre on the last date of hearing that “healthy discussions” were going on between the government and the unions over all the issues and there was good chance that both sides may come to a conclusion in the near future.

The court had then assured the government of an adjournment on January 11 provided it urges so saying that the settlement through talks was a possibility.

“We understand the situation and encourage the consultation. We can adjourn the matters on Monday (January 11) if you submit the same due to the ongoing consultation process, it had said.

After the eighth round of talks, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar had said no decision could be reached as the farmer leaders did not present alternatives to their demand for the repeal of the laws.

On Saturday, a farmers’ body, Consortium of Indian Farmers Associations (CIFA), moved the top court in support of the three laws and sought impleadment in the matter.

It said the laws are beneficial to farmers and will enable increased income and growth of agriculture.

The apex court had earlier issued notice and sought the Centre’s response on a batch of pleas against the three contentious farm laws — the Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act.

While hearing the pleas on the issue of farmers’ protest, the top court had on December 17 said that the agitation should be allowed to continue without impediment and this court will not interfere with it as the right to protest is a fundamental right.

While acknowledging the right to non-violent protest of farmers, the apex court was also of the view that their right to protest should not infringe the fundamental rights of others to move freely and in getting essential food and other supplies as right to protest cannot mean blockade of the entire city.

In its December 17 order, the bench had said, We clarify that this court will not interfere with the protest in question. Indeed the right to protest is part of a fundamental right and can as a matter of fact, be exercised subject to public order. There can certainly be no impediment in the exercise of such rights as long as it is non-violent and does not result in damage to the life and properties of other citizens and is in accordance with law.”

“We are of the view at this stage that the farmers’ protest should be allowed to continue without impediment and without any breach of peace either by the protesters or the police,” it said.

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, are staying put at various border points of Delhi since late November last year to protest against the laws.

Enacted in September, the three laws have been projected by the central government as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell anywhere in the country.

However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of Minimum Support Price and do away with the mandi system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.

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