01/11/2021, 12.55
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Indian Supreme Court sides with farmers, puts reform on hold

by Nirmala Carvalho

The Court suspends the reform to protect workers, setting up a committee to resolve the dispute. Conversely, the Attorney General defends the government’s laws, opposed by tens of thousands of farmers.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – The Supreme Court of India intervened today in the controversy that pits tens of thousands of small farmers against India’s central government.

For weeks, farmers, backed by the Church, have been in the streets to protest against the agrarian reform.

The Court has put the reform on hold to protect farmers’ rights; at the same time, it has set up  a committee and ordered the government to comply with the rules, threatening to intervene if this is not followed.

Chaired by Chief Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde, the Court expressed its disappointment at the government’s handling of the crisis and at the failure of current talks between farmers’ unions and the central government.

“You have made a law without enough consultation resulting in a strike. So you have to resolve the strike,” said Chief Justice Bobde.  

The Supreme Court wants to stay the implementation of the laws, to encourage talks between the parties before an ad hoc committee it has set up.

To this end, it asked senior advocate Dushyant Dave, pleading for farmer unions, to discuss the court's views with the unions.

Conversely, Attorney General Kottayan Katankot Venugopal said that more than 2,000 farmers entered into contract for selling their produce after these laws were passed and if the court stays the laws, these farmers will incur losses. 

The government also contends that many other farmer organisations see these laws as beneficial, so that they should be implemented.

The Supreme Court has dismissed this view, as well as refused to intervene to get farmers to call off their protests.

“The court will not pass an order that citizens should not protest,” the Court said. “We will decide on the laws after the committee files a report,” it added. 

Opposing the stay, Attorney General Venugopal said that the court cannot stay legislation “unless the court finds that (1) law is passed without legislative competence, (2) law violates fundamental rights, and (3) law violates other provisions of constitution.”

In his view, none of this applies to the reform laws.

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