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  • Raghav Sand

The ‘Supreme’ Government of India

The Honourable Supreme Court of India has delivered two significant judgements in the span of a week. Firstly, on January 5, in a majority judgement, a three-judge bench cleared the passage for Central Vista redevelopment, and on January 12, Supreme Court suspended farm laws implementation. Depending on your vantage point, the stay on farm laws may fall in the category of judicial overreach, oversight or trespassing in the domain of Executive wing of government. The learned judges are well with in their rights to pass orders, but every action which tries to nullify an act passed by Parliament blurs the demarcation made in the Constitution of India.

Stay to Slay

The Hon’ble Supreme Court is not trying to repeal the laws, but it is trying to buy some time for the negotiations between protesting farmers and the Government. “This Court cannot be said to be completely powerless to grant a stay of any executive action under a statutory enactment,” the court said in its order. The approach taken by the Supreme Court seems like an attempt to safeguard itself from an imminent assertion of being a mute spectator. Chief Justice of India, Sharad Arvind Bobde, termed the stay on farm laws as victory for fair play, after Senior Advocate Harish Salve asked to court to make a categorical remark that the stay on farm laws is a not a victory for anyone.

Supreme Court Names Panel for Talks

The court’s committee will include: Pramod Kumar Joshi, Agricultural Economist and Director for South Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute; Ashok Gulati, Agricultural Economist and Former Chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices; Bhupinder Singh Mann, National President, Bhartiya Kisan Union and All India Kisan Coordination Committee; and Anil Ghanwat, President, Shetkari Sanghatana. The expenses of the committee will be borne by the Central Government and “every person who is genuinely interested in solving the problem is expected to go before the committee,” the court said. The committee shall submit its report in two months and first sitting shall be held by January 22.

The committee will not be a deciding on the legality of law or passing a decree. It has been formed “for the purpose of listening to the grievances of the farmers relating to the farm laws and the views of the Government and to make recommendations,” the court said.

What Goes Around Comes Around

By staying the implementation of farm laws, the Hon’ble Supreme Court undermined the Executive. Now, when the protesting farmers have denied to appear before the Supreme Court appointed panel, such disregard for the judiciary undermines the Court’s position as well.

No person or organisation can be compelled to appear before the panel, but how can the panel form an opinion and submit a credible recommendation when those opposing the law do not voice their concerns to the committee. This impasse can only be broken by dialogue and it is high time a little common sense prevails.

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