India's top court puts controversial farm laws on hold

Big blow for Centre SC stays implementation of farm laws

India Big blow for Centre SC stays implementation of farm laws Written

"If protesting farmers refuse to talk and negotiate their terms through the committee and insist on their demand to repeal the laws, it can complicate the matter for the court", Verma said.

India's Supreme Court ordered an indefinite stay on Tuesday over the implementation of new agricultural laws that have triggered widespread protest from farmers, saying it would set up a panel to hear their objections.

In addition, the farmers' land holdings shall be protected, farmer shall be dispossessed or deprived of his title as a result of any action taken under the farm laws, the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, said in its 11-page interim order.

The top court on Tuesday also issued notice on government application to injunct the farmers from taking out a "Kisan tractor/trolley march" on Republic Day.

The government has said there was no question of such a rollback, and eight rounds of talks have failed to find common ground.

They believe the reforms would be detrimental to them, although the government has repeatedly said these laws would help in increasing their income.

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The top court on Tuesday also agreed to hear the government's petition to stop a rally planned by farmers on January 26, when India celebrates becoming a republic.

This committee is "constituted for the goal of listening to the grievances of the farmers relating to the farm laws and the views of the government and to make recommendations", it said.

The farmer leaders also claimed that the Supreme Court can repeal the farm laws suo motu (on its own). Agriculture and agricultural marketing are state subjects and do not come under the Centre's purview, the petitioners said.

"We expect to mobilise up to two million farmers across the country on January 26", Kulwant Singh Sandhu, general secretary of Jamhuri Kisan Sabha, one of the main farm unions, told Reuters.

"The Supreme Court order gives some hope to the farmers who are protesting in very adverse conditions", said Bishop Alex Vadakumthala, chairman of the Indian bishops' office of labor. This committee will submit a report to the court in two months from the first meeting, which is due to be held in 10 days, the court said.

Nationalist Congress Party Chief Sharad Pawar welcomed the apex court's decision to put on hold the implementation of the new laws.

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"We have said that Khalistanis have infiltrated into the protests", Venugopal said. Yesterday (Monday), he said he will get back today with the views of farmers unions.

After repealing the "black laws" that, they say, only serve corporate interests and will be a "death warrant" for farmers, the government should hold a dialogue with farmers and bring in new laws to reform agriculture.

However, the protesting farmers have expressed their apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of the MSP and do away with the "mandi" (wholesale market) system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.

"In this moment of farmers' crisis, all the workers of the AAP have decided that we will dedicate this year's Lohri to our farmer brothers who were martyred in the movement", added Mr. Mann.

They also rejected the constitution of the committee because in their view the people on it were known for their support to the three Acts.

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