New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday acknowledged the right of farmers to non-violent protests, and said it was thinking of setting up an “impartial and independent” panel of agriculture experts and farmer unions to resolve the impasse over three contentious farm laws.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde said it would set up the committee which may include experts like P. Sainath and representatives of the government and farmers’ bodies to look for the resolution of the deadlock over the statutes.
The bench also comprising justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, “We acknowledge the right of farmers to protest but it has to be non-violent.”
In a hearing conducted via video conferencing, the top court said the purpose of staging protest can be achieved if the farmers and the government will hold talks and “we wish to facilitate that”.
“We will not decide the validity of law today. The only thing which we will decide is the issue of protest and the right to move freely,” the bench made clear at the outset of the hearing which is still going on.
It is hearing a clutch of petitions seeking removal of farmers protesting at several roads along Delhi’s borders.
After the Supreme Court proposed setting up a committee of farmer leaders from across the country and representatives of the Central government, farmer leaders welcomed the court’s observations but said that setting up a new committee would not resolve their concerns. “Committee formation will be fruitful only after the laws are withdrawn and the representatives of all national and regional farmers’ organisations are represented in a decisive manner and should therefore be done only after repeal of the Acts,” a statement from the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee said.
The Supreme Court’s proposal comes a day after a farmer protesting against the Centre’s new farm laws at the Delhi-Haryana border passed away early on Thursday morning, allegedly due to the biting cold weather. A day before, a Sikh cleric who was supporting the farmers’ protest also died by suicide.
(With inputs from PTI)