Can Centre Give A Commitment To Not Implement Farm Laws To Facilitate Discussions? Supreme Court Asks Attorney General

first_imgTop StoriesCan Centre Give A Commitment To Not Implement Farm Laws To Facilitate Discussions? Supreme Court Asks Attorney General LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK17 Dec 2020 1:28 AMShare This – xThe Supreme Court on Friday asked the Attorney General for India if the Union Government can give a commitment that the contentious farm laws will not be implemented while the court is hearing the petitions seeking removal of farmers protests.”Can the Union say no executive action will be taken under the laws in order to facilitate the negotiations”, CJ SA Bobde asked AG KK Venugopal.The…Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?LoginThe Supreme Court on Friday asked the Attorney General for India if the Union Government can give a commitment that the contentious farm laws will not be implemented while the court is hearing the petitions seeking removal of farmers protests.”Can the Union say no executive action will be taken under the laws in order to facilitate the negotiations”, CJ SA Bobde asked AG KK Venugopal.The AG replied that he will get back after taking instructions from the Central Government.The Solicitor General submitted that it will be impossible to commit that the laws will not be implemented.The CJI replied to SG : “If the AG is saying he will get back, why are you preempting?”.The bench did not pass any order today in the PILs against the farmers protests as there was no representation for the eight farmers unions which were added as respondents in the case. Only Bharatiya Kisan Union(Bhanu), which has filed an intervention application in the cases challenging farm laws, appeared before the court through Advocate A P Singh.Solicitor General of India, Tushar Mehta, informed the bench that he has instructions that BKU(Bhanu) does not share the views of other unions. In this backdrop, the bench refrained from passing any substantive directions.The Court only directed the service of notice on the unions by tomorrow so that the matter may be listed before another bench day after tomorrow or during vacation. Liberty is also granted to move before the vacation Bench.The Supreme Court is closing tomorrow for Christmas holidays. CJI said that he and his colleagues may not be available during vacation on account of prior commitments and therefore a different bench might hear the matter.The CJI further refused to accept the suggestion of Senior Advocate Harish Salve(appearing for one of the petitioners seeking removal of protests) to pass an order directing the authorities and police to ensure that the life in Delhi is not affected by the blockade. “The court can pass such an order only after hearing the unions,” the CJI said. “Purpose of protest can be achieved only if people talk to each other. If the protest has a purpose other than the protest, we wish to facilitate that,” CJI observed during the hearing on Thursday while reiterating its inclination to form a Committee to hold talks between representatives of the farmers and the Central Government, to resolve the farmers’ protest.He insisted that the protests should continue in a “non-violent manner”. He further observed that the police can also not use violent means during this time. The Court was hearing the petitions seeking removal of farmers protesting at Delhi borders against the three Farmers Acts.During the hearing on Wednesday also, the CJI had indicated that the Court might form a committee for negotiations with the Unions. “Your negotiation does not work apparently; we will form a committee to resolve the issue”, the CJI had told the Solicitor General. Today, the CJI again observed, “we are proposing an independent impartial committee before whom both the parties can state their case while the protest goes on and that the committee will give its opinion, which we expect the parties to follow.” He added, “In protests, the aggrieved party must be able to articulate their view and the party who is said to have caused the grievance has option to answer. We think this can be done before an independent committee. We will propose names like journalist P Sainath.” At the beginning of the hearing, the CJI said that the Court will not consider the petitions challenging the farm laws(which were also listed today before the bench).”We will not decide the validity of the laws today. The first and the only thing we will decide today is regarding the farmers protest and the fundamental right of citizens to move. The question of validity of laws can wait”.After the Bench suggested formation of a Committee, the Attorney General insisted that a direction should be passed for the farmers’ organization to consider the Acts clause by clause. He said, “Their demand is to repeal the three laws. For that they have to come to the table and discuss the laws clause by clause. They must be directed to come for discussion. It cannot be like ‘repeal or nothing’. They cannot say either repeal or will continue indefinitely. They have come prepared for six months. This kind of blockades cannot be permitted. This happens only during a war where you cut off supply etc and block borders.” He added, “Let there be some persons of eminence who can facilitate a dialogue. It is a question of sitting together with neutral people who can facilitate discussions.” At this juncture, Senior Advocate P. Chidambaram, appearing for the State of Punjab, submitted that he has no objection to the Court’s suggestion that a group of people can facilitate a dialogue between farmers and the Central Govt.Farmers’ Right to protest affecting fundamental rights of others Senior Advocate Harish Salve appearing for one of the Petitioners, a resident of Delhi, submitted that the protests were affecting the fundamental rights of persons residing in the capital city. He submitted that due to blocking of roads amid the protests, movements of goods was affected leading to rise in food prices. “Delhi has a population of 2 million plus which cannot sustain itself. All fruits, vegetables coming from across the borders. There is a fundamental right to protest. But that has to be balanced with other fundamental rights. Price rise will lead to irreparable loss,” Salve said. He added, “My fundamental right to speech does not extend to interfering with other’s fundamental rights. It is about the contours of the fundamental rights. No right is absolute. From right to protest to right to movement. Right to protest does not extend to deny others’ rights.”CJI : One thing we will make it clear. We recognize the fundamental right to protest against a law. But that cannot affect other fundamental rights and right to life of others.#FarmersProtest #SupremeCourt— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) December 17, 2020 The Attorney General also insisted during the hearing that the manner of protesting was very dangerous. “The damage caused by 22 days of blockade is enormous. People are not able to go for jobs. Ambulances are not permitted to move. Also there is risk of Coronovirus. When protesters go back to their villages, they will spread coronavirus like wildfire,” the AG submitted. Salve submitted that the “Main arterial roads have been blocked.” The CJI however refused to indulge in this aspect of the matter. He remarked, “It does not matter. We are not on the extent of blocking. It is not as if Delhi is choked,” while indicating that all the roads to the capital have not been blocked. Advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing for the Delhi Government denied the claim that all arterial roads have been blocked. “This is a mischievous petition. The petitioners have not made Delhi Govt a party… There are more than hundreds of arterial roads. I do not know where these figures are coming. Court should not accept these oral submissions if they are not on affidavit,” he submitted. Mr. Chidambaram,appearing for the State of Punjab, also expressed his displeasure at Salve’s submissions. He submitted, “When massive number of people think that a law is unjust, there will be massive protests. Remember what happened in US against Vietnam war, in Paris etc. Farmers have not blocked the roads. Farmers wanted to march to Delhi. Who has stopped them and blocked them? The police has blocked them. We see photos of barricades, containers.”Chidambaram : We want the Parliament to convene and the Parliamentarians to discuss. @PChidambaram_IN #FarmersProtests #SupremeCourt— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) December 17, 2020 Regulation of mode of protests During his arguments, Salve referred to an “excellent judgment” of the Kerala High Court in CPI(M) v. Bharat Kumar where it was held that the fundamental right to protest cannot extend to “holding a city to ransom”. Salve submitted, “It is hightime that a declaration comes from this court regarding the contours of right to protest…Unions who are organizing large crowds should be held responsible for the acts of crowds.” Salve insisted that the government must have a protocol where a person calling for the protests will identify himself, so that he may be held accountable for the damages caused during the protest, “so that an amorphous group of people will not disappear”. The CJI concurred that there is a fundamental right to protest against a law however, such a right cannot affect other fundamental rights and right to life of others. The Bench recognized that the mode of protesting needs a second look and remarked that it will ask the Union what can be done to alter the nature of protesting, which will ensure that rights of others are not affected. However, it observed that it cannot pass a direction saying that people should deposit money before protesting. “I am not saying that. I am say they should identify themselves,” Salve clarified. He added, “Nobody can say I can do whatever I want in the name of protests. The Court can issue a direction to the unions to cooperate with the government.” The CJI then turned to the Bharathiya Kisan Union(Bhanu) and said that the grievance is that people of Delhi will go hungry if they continue to block the roads. “You have a right to protest which we are not going to interfere with. You carry on the protest. The purpose of protest must be served to talking to someone. You cannot sit in protest for years,” the CJI said. He recalled the farmers protest in 1997 near Boat Club which had the potential to destroy everything “but fortunately nothing happened because there was a rift among the unions.” Validity of Farmers Acts The Court refused to consider a batch of petitions challenging the validity of the three farm Acts, today. It said, “We will not decide the validity of the laws today. The first and the only thing we will decide today is regarding the farmers protest and the fundamental right of citizens to move. The question of validity of laws can wait.” The Supreme Court had on Wednesday allowed the impleadment of eight farmers unions in the petitions seeking removal of the farmers protests at the Delhi borders. A bench headed by the Chief Justice of India had allowed the following unions to be added : Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU – Rakesh Tikait) BKU-Sidhupur (Jagjeet S. Dallewal) BKU-Rajewal (Balbeer Singh Rajewal) BKU-Lakhowal (Harinder Singh Lakhowal) Jamhoori Kisan Sabha (Kulwant Singh Sandhu) BKU-Dakaunda (Buta Singh Burjgill) BKU – Doaba (Manjit Singh Rai) Kul Hind Kisan Federation (Prem Singh Bhangu) The Petitioners had sought immediate removal of protesting farmers from border areas of Delhi-NCR on the ground that they increase the risk of COVID-19 spread in Delhi. The petitioners also referred to the recent judgment of the Supreme Court in the Shaheen Bagh case to argue that the protests blocking public roads are illegal. Thousands of protesters, mostly from Punjab, have been camping in the border areas of Delhi-NCR since November 26 raising a demand that the Central Government repeal the recently passed farmers laws. Next Storylast_img

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