By Abdul Bari Masoud
New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday put stay on the contentious three farm laws until further notice and set up a committee comprising experts to facilitate talks between the Union government and farmer unions. However, farmer leaders bluntly said the court has favoured the government by announcing the committee to mediate and they are not willing to appear before the committee.
When Chief Justice of India, SA Bobde Monday expressed disappointment over the government’s mishandling of the consultations with Farmers unions it took everyone by surprise. Everyone cheered and praised the apex court which has been getting a lot of flak recently for giving pro-government judgement.
However, the expert committee appointed by the court came under sharp examinations as its all four members publicly defended three agri laws, interestingly even one member himself is a petitioner supporting the new laws
Reacting on this, Jaspreet Singh, the Bhartiya Kisan Union, said “the government always wanted to constitute a committee, but we have been rejecting its demand. We just wanted the repeal of three farm laws. What the committee has to do in this? It is simply a waste of time.”
The expert committee comprises Jitender Singh Maan, President BKU; Dr. Pramod Kumar Joshi, International policy head; agricultural economist Ashok Gulati and Anil Ghanwat from Shetkari Sangathan. All these members have already in different capacities defended the agri laws.
‘ The Sanghatana has welcomed the three farm Bills, passed in Parliament amid strong protests by the opposition, and termed them as the first step towards “financial freedom for farmers,” Ghanwat said.
While in a joint article, P K Joshi said “The farm-agitations’ demand to repeal the three farm laws and legalise minimum support prices (MSPs) baffle us, given the apprehensions over the impact of the laws on the farmers are mostly misplaced.
And he added that “Alternatively, the government has to procure the commodity at the declared prices. This is not feasible as the government has to create a huge network for procurement for all commodities throughout the year and arrange for stocking and disposal at prevailing (lower) market prices. The demand, therefore, seems illogical and impractical.”
Another member Gulati has on several opinion pieces written in favour of the farm laws and have even equated them with the liberalisation of the 90s. He has also alleged that the opposition is misled on new farm laws. He is an agricultural economist who was awarded the Padma Shri in the year 2015 by the Modi government.
Jitender Singh Mann of Bhartiya Kisan Union has recently met up with Agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar and given his support to the new farm laws.
It is being asked why would the SC choose members who are already known for their pro-market and pro farm laws, to begin with?
A political analyst says “It’s not so much of a mystery if one goes back to what SC has been in the last 2 years. The compromising judgements on Babri Masjid vs Ram mandir title suit to letting go of the main culprits of the Babri Masjid demolition have already made clear where the SC stands when it comes to Hindutva politics”.
However, Kisan unions already made it clear that the Supreme Court does not and cannot have any role in resolving the political deadlock over “anti-farmers” laws enacted by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) under pressure from corporates led by Ambani and Adani.
The All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) on January 10 said “It is a political choice made by BJP against the interests of farmers. Farmers are opposing these laws all over India. BJP leadership is displaying cowardice in opposing the diktats of corporate houses.”