As the farmers’ protest entered day 56 on Wednesday, the tenth round of talks between the Centre and the farmers’ unions on the three farm laws has made slight progress. The next round of talks will take place on January 22.
During the meeting, the Centre told farmers they would suspend the three farm laws for one and a half years. The government proposed to set up a joint committee for discussing the three laws and find a solution. Initially, the union leaders refused to budge from their demands, however, reports now suggest that the leaders would consult with the farmers and revert to the Centre during the January 22 meeting.
During the discussion with the Centre, the farmers’ union leaders also brought up the summons made by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). The farmers alleged that the NIA was harassing farmers and those supporting the protests. The Centre said they would look into the matter.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court issued a notice to the Centre over pleas to reconstitute the committee presiding over the three farm laws.
The Chief Justice of India SA Bobde headed bench asked Attorney General KK Venugopal to file a response to a Kisan Mahapanchayat’s plea for reconstituting the SC-appointed committee after a member recused himself from the panel.
On January 14, 2021, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Mann) national president Bhupinder Singh Mann recused himself from the committee stating that he will not compromise with the interests of Punjab and the farmers of the country.
The SC has also expressed displeasure after reports came out where the public have allegedly said that the SC-appointed committee is biased and reputations of those appointed by the Court are being maligned.
“No power has been given to committee members to adjudicate things. The committee will hear the grievances of the farmers and will report to us,” said CJI Bobde, continuing, “Where is the question of bias? If you don’t want to appear before the committee, don’t appear but don’t malign or brand anyone like this.”
CJI Bobde said the SC appointed members are maligned for an opinion they expressed in the past and now, their reputation is being destroyed. “Everyone should have an opinion. Even judges have opinions of their own. It has become a norm of branding people that you do now want,” the Bench said.
“We took up the case in the interest of the public. Now, you want to brand us? Public opinion is important however, it is not determinative for the Court. We have judgements saying public opinion cannot say whether someone is biased,” said CJI Bobde, adding that the Court has serious objections to the appointed committee member being called names.
Meanwhile, the Centre withdrew its plea requesting the apex court to pass an injunction against the farmers’ tractor rally on Republic Day. Earlier, the Court said it is up to the Delhi police and not the Court to decide whether the rally/protest is allowed.