The Chief Justice of India, SA Bobde, today responded to criticism of the Supreme Court committee to negotiate a solution to the farmer protests and noted what he called a "peculiar lack of comprehension" about the constitution of such panels.
In a case related to guidelines on removing inadequacies in criminal trials, the Chief Justice said: "There is a misunderstanding we are noticing. If you appoint a committee and if they had taken a view it does not mean they should not be in the committee."
Justice Bobde questioned why views expressed in the past disqualified any member.
"It is okay you have taken a view and you are entitled to change your view. How is this a disqualification? Just because a person has expressed a view on the matter, that is not a disqualification to be a member of committee. Generally, there is a peculiar lack of comprehension about constitution of a committee. They are not judges," said the Chief Justice.
This is the first reaction from the Supreme Court on the controversy over its committee of experts to negotiate with thousands of farmers protesting outside Delhi against three central laws.
Last week, the Supreme Court paused the implementation of the laws and said the committee would try and tackle the farmers' demands, given that the Centre had failed to resolve the crisis after several meetings.
All four names suggested for the panel were opposed by farmers' unions - and even opposition parties like the Congress -- who said the members had expressed views that favoured the farm laws and were pro-government.
One of the members, Bhupinder Singh Mann of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, opted out saying he did not wish to "compromise farmers' interests".
"As a farmer myself and a Union leader, in view of the prevailing sentiments and apprehensions amongst farm unions and the public in general, I am ready to sacrifice any position offered or given to me so as not to compromise the interests of Punjab and farmers of the country," Mr Mann said.
Besides Mr Mann, the committee included Pramod Kumar Joshi, an agricultural economist; Ashok Gulati, agricultural economist and former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices and Anil Ghanwat, the chief of Shetkari Sanghatana.