The Centre has been asked to respond to a bunch of petitions filed in the Supreme Court against the contentious farm laws that were recently passed by parliament. The order from the top court came during the hearing of petitions by DMK parliamentarian Trichy Siva and three others, who have challenged the constitutional validity of the farm laws.
Various other petitions on the matter are pending before various High Courts on the Farmers' (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, Farmers Produce Trade And Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020.
The petitions filed before the Supreme Court contend that the laws would dismantle the wholesale APMC market system that was put in place to ensure fair prices for farm products.
The petition filed by Trichy Siva maintains that the laws are unconstitutional and arbitrary and would usher in new exploitative regime for the poor farmers.
The petition also says the amendment to the Essential Commodities Act will facilitate black marketing. It will have black market dealers regulate the stock limit and stocking of agricultural produce.
"Suffice it to say that the Acts attack the very foundation of the agricultural fabric of the country that was built to safeguard the interests of the farmers and not leave them at the mercy of the new era of privatization," the petition read.
The Centre has to reply to the notice within four weeks.
"This court has held earlier that merely the passing of the legislation does not give rise to a cause of action," Chief Justice of India SA Bobde told ML Sharma, one of the petitioners in the case.
The Centre had lined up a battery of its top lawyers to present its side in court, where a three-judge bench of the Chief Justice, Justice AS Bopanna and Justice V Ramasubramanian are hearing the case through video link.
Pointing to the line-up, Chief Justice Bobde said, "The Attorney General, Solicitor General, Additional Solicitor General - all appearing in a matter where there is no cause of action... This in common parlance is called overkill".
Dubbing the new laws "historic reforms" in the farm sector, the government has said they would help farmers increase their income and free them from the interference of middlemen.
Under the new laws , the farmers are allowed to sell produce anywhere in the country and deal directly with big corporations – a situation that the farmers have found alarming. Most feel they would be left at the mercy of the big corporates and with the phasing out of agricultural wholesale APMC markers, will not get even the minimum support price for their produce.
The opposition, which has sided with the farmers, has been holding protests in various states, especially in Punjab and Haryana, where resistance against the new laws is the maximum.
Last week, the Congress held a three-day "Kheti Bachao Yatra" (March to protect the agricultural sector) in Punjab.
Today, Delhi' ruling Aam Aadmi Party is holding a protest at Jantar Mantar against the farm laws. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is also present at the spot to show support for the farmers.