What the government argued
* Attorney General K K Venugopal agreed to the constitution of a four-member committee but vehemently opposed the grant of any interim stay of the implementation of the farm laws.
* He argued that none of the petitioners who have attacked the farm laws have pointed out any single provision which is detrimental to the farmers and that the laws enacted by Parliament cannot be stayed by this Court, especially when there is a presumption in favour of the constitutionality of legislation.
* Venugopal also said that Khalistani elements have infiltrated the protest. He said he will file an affidavit along with the necessary inputs of the intelligence bureau (IB).
* Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that misapprehensions have been made that the land belonging to farmers will be taken away. “That is how the farmers have been misled,” he told the bench.
* The solicitor general also confirmed that there are inherent safeguards, in-built in the farm laws, for the protection of the land of the farmers and that it will be ensured that no farmer will lose his land. He also assured that the top court that the Minimum Support Price (MSP) system will continue.
What the SC said in its order
* The top court ruled that the implementation of the three farm laws 1) Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; (2) Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020; and (3) Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, shall stand stayed until further orders.
* The top court noted that negotiations between the farmers’ bodies and the government have “not yielded any result so far” and said the constitution of a committee of experts in the field of agriculture to negotiate may create a congenial atmosphere and improve the trust and confidence of farmers.
* “Though we appreciate the aforesaid submission of the learned attorney general, this court cannot be said to be completely powerless to grant stay of any executive action under a statutory enactment.”
* “Laudably, the farmers have so far carried on the agitation peacefully and without any untoward incident. But it was pointed out in the course of hearing that a few people who are not farmers have also joined, with a view to show solidarity with the farmers.”
* The apex court said that staying the implementation of laws and staying the law are different things, adding that it can always stay executive action under a law
* “The Minimum Support Price System in existence before the enactment of the Farm Laws shall be maintained until further orders. In addition, the farmers’ land holdings shall be protected, i.e., no farmer shall be dispossessed or deprived of his title as a result of any action taken under the farm laws.”
* “While we may not stifle a peaceful protest, we think that this extraordinary order of stay of implementation of the farm laws will be perceived as an achievement of the purpose of such protest at least for the present and will encourage the farmers bodies to convince their members to get back to their livelihood, both in order to protect their own lives and health and in order to protect the lives and properties of others.”
How the Centre and farmers reacted to the order
* The protesting farmers made it clear that they will not call off their agitation until the three farm laws are repealed.
* While the farm unions welcomed the top court’s order to stay the implementation of the laws, they asserted they will not appear before the committee as, according to them, its members were “pro-government”.
* The farmers claimed that the members of the SC-appointed committee are not dependable as they have been writing on how the laws are pro-farmer.
* “It is clear that the court is being misguided by various forces even in its constitution of a committee. These are people who are known for their support to the 3 Acts and have actively advocated for the same,” the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) said in a statement.
* Another farmer leader, Darshan Singh, said they will not appear before any committee, adding Parliament should discuss and resolve this issue. “We don’t want any external committee,” he said.
* Farmer leader Jagmohan Singh Patiala said the aim of forming a committee is basically to cool down the agitation.
* Minister of state for agriculture Kailash Choudhary said the Supreme Court order to stay implementation of three new farm laws is against its wish but the direction of the apex court is ‘sarva-manya’ (acceptable to all). He also welcomed the composition of an “impartial” committee to resolve the deadlock.
* Choudhary said the government is always ready for talks but it is up to farmer unions to decide whether they want to go ahead with the scheduled ninth round of talks on January 15.
(With inputs from agencies)