'Will Release Report on Farm Laws If Apex Court Doesn't': SC-Appointed Panel Member

'This should not go into the dustbin. It should not happen. I will make it public,' Anil J. Ghanwat has said.

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New Delhi: A member of the Supreme Court-appointed panel – which has submitted its report on the farm laws to the apex court – on Friday said that the purpose of the report is “over” now that the laws have been repealed and he will mull releasing the report in the public domain, if the apex court does not do so.

Shetkari Sanghatana president Anil J. Ghanwat said the panel’s report had been in “favour of farmers”.

While suspending the implementation of the three farm laws, the Supreme Court had constituted a Committee on January 12, 2021, to which Ghanwat was nominated as a member to represent the farming community.

Other than Ghanwat, the panel had Ashok Gulati (agricultural economist and former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural) and Pramod Kumar Joshi who is an agricultural economist and Director for South Asia at International Food Policy Research Institute.

The three-member committee, after studying the three farm laws and consultation with stakeholders, had submitted its report to the apex court on March 19.

Since then, the report has not been made public, despite Ghanwat having requested the Chief Justice of India in a letter dated September 1, to release the panel’s report in the public domain saying its “recommendations will pave the way to resolve the ongoing farmers’ agitation.”

Recently, over 200 eminent citizens, including professors, civil servants, journalists and prominent activists had written an open letter to the Chief Justice of India, attempting to draw his attention to the pending status of key matters in Supreme Court, including the farm laws.

The Supreme Court had also, controversially, questioned if the protests can continue while the matter was sub-judice.

Speaking to PTI, Ghanwat said: “If these three farm laws are withdrawn, this report has no sense at all…If the apex court does not make it public, I will make it public.”

The committee has spent three months preparing the report. “This should not go into the dustbin. It should not happen. I will make it public,” he said.

The committee will meet on Monday and will take views of all three members on releasing the panel’s report in the public domain, he added.

Ghanwat further said, “The other members are academicians and professionals and they don’t have anything to do with the farmers’ movement. But I am a farmers’ leader. I have to take care of farmers.”

“I will take the initiative of releasing the panels’ report in the public domain in the interest of farmers. The farmers, press and the government should know recommendations made by the panel,” he said, adding that the report was in favour of farmers.

The report will be a good reference for framing future laws on agriculture, he added.

Time of India has reported Ghanwat as having said that this decision “won’t end the agitation. Because their demand to make minimum support price (MSP) legal will be there. And this decision won’t help the BJP politically either.”

‘SC’s prerogative’

Gulati said, “It is the prerogative of the Supreme Court whether it wants to make it public or not.”

With the government’s decision to repeal new farm laws, the purpose of the report ends, he also said.

It’s been over a year now that farmers are protesting at Delhi border against the three central farm laws: Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act.

“At least now, farmers don’t have a case to keep agitating. Farmers’ demand in any case has drifted away from the farm laws to make the minimum support price (MSP) legal,” he added.

The apex court had suspended the implementation of three farm laws and constituted a committee to report on these laws on January 12 this year.

(With PTI inputs)