Noting that there was no improvement in talks between agitating farmers and the government, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said it would take up petitions against farm laws and those against farmers’ protests on January 11.
“There is absolutely no improvement in the situation,” Chief Justice SA Bobde said indicating that the petitions on the issue would be heard on Monday.
The CJI’s comments came during hearing of a PIL by advocate ML Sharma on the issue.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the government was discussing the issue with farmers.
Attorney General KK Venugopal told the Bench, “There is a good chance that the parties may come to some conclusion in near future.”
The CJI – who had on December 17 indicated constituting a committee of independent and impartial persons, including agriculture experts, to end the stalemate between protesting farmers and the Centre – said, “We understand the situation. We want to encourage the talks. We will keep the matter on Monday and will adjourn if you say so.”
Mehta pointed out that since healthy talks were going on between farmers and the Centre, it would not be advisable to take up the matter immediately.
The Attorney General, too, said filing of response by the Centre could foreclose avenues of the ongoing negotiations between the two sides.
Agreeing with Venugopal and Mehta, the Bench said if it was told on Monday that discussions were still under way, it would adjourn the hearing.
The Bench, however, issued notice to the Centre on Sharma challenging a 1954 amendment to the Constitution putting certain agriculture-related issues in the Concurrent List, allowing the Centre to enact farm laws.
It asked Sharma to follow what’s happening in the court and make his submissions when the matter comes up for hearing.
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“Mr Sharma always files startling petitions, and now he has challenged the constitutional amendment of 1954,” the CJI commented.
The Supreme Court had on December 17 refused to interfere with the ongoing agitation against farm laws by farmers from Punjab and some other states who have blocked certain entry points to the national capital for weeks, saying it was their fundamental right.
“We are of the view at this stage that the farmers’ protest should be allowed to continue without impediment and without any breach of peace either by the protesters or the police,” a Bench headed by CJI Bobde had said during a hearing on petitions seeking removal of agitating farmers from Delhi roads.
“We clarify that this court will not interfere with the protest in question. Indeed, the right to protest is part of a fundamental right and can as a matter of fact be exercised subject to public order,” it had said.
“There can certainly be no impediment in the exercise of such rights as long as it is non-violent and does not result in damage to the lives and properties of other citizens and is in accordance with law,” the Bench had noted.