The Supreme Court today slammed critics of an expert panel - formed last week to resolve the farmers-centre deadlock over the three contentious agricultural laws - and said the committee has no power to decide on the legislations. "We gave (the committee the) power to hear everyone and submit report to us. Where is the question of bias? (There is) no need to brand people and malign them, and on top of it cast aspersion on (the) court," Chief Justice SA Bobde said today.
The top court also asked the government to respond to a petition seeking reconstitution of its committee. Last week, the top court had paused the implementation of the laws as thousands of farmers continue to camp near Delhi borders, demanding repeal of the legislations.
Protesters and several opposition parties - including the Congress and the Akali Dal - had raised objections saying the four members of the panel had in the past expressed views in favour of the controversial legislations. One of the members - Bhartiya Kisan Union President Bhupinder Singh Mann - last week had opted out of the committee, farmers' body Kisan Mahapanchayat said today during the hearing.
"You unthinkingly cast aspersions. Someone expressed opinion... he becomes disqualified? (Bhupinder Singh) Mann had asked for (the) modification of laws... you are saying he is for laws," Chief Justice SA Bobde said, stressing the experts "are brilliant minds in the agricultural field".
"You cannot brand people like this. People should have opinion. Even the best judges have certain opinion even they delivered judgements on the other side," the Chief Justice added.
"We entertained the issue in the interest of public and farmers. If you do not want to appear don't appear. Do not brand people. We are finding solution to this problem. Public opinion is important and it will not determine the outcome," the top court noted.
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. The panel held its first meeting yesterday.