Amid a deadlock in the government's negotiations with the protesting farmer unions, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Monday a clutch of pleas challenging the new farm laws and agitation at Delhi borders.
The eighth round of talks between the Centre and the farmer unions on January 7 appeared heading nowhere as the Centre ruled out repealing the contentious laws.
The Monday hearing on the pleas by a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde assumes significance as the Centre and the farmer leaders are scheduled to hold their next meeting on January 15.
The top court, which had observed that there is no improvement on the ground regarding farmers' protests, was told by the Centre on the last date of hearing that "healthy discussions" were going on between the government and the unions over all outstanding issues.
The court had then assured the government of an adjournment on January 11 provided it urges so, saying that the settlement through talks was a possibility.
"We understand the situation and encourage the consultation. We can adjourn the matters on Monday (January 11) if you submit the same due to the ongoing consultation process," it had said.
After the eighth round of talks, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar had said no decision could be reached as the farmer leaders did not present alternatives to their demand for the repeal of the laws.
On Saturday, a farmers' body, Consortium of Indian Farmers Associations (CIFA), moved the top court in support of the three laws. It said the laws are "beneficial" to farmers and will enable increased income and growth of agriculture.
Enacted in September, the three laws have been projected by the central government as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell anywhere in the country.
However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of Minimum Support Price and do away with the mandi system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.