The Court will decide if the three farm laws: Farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance & Farm Services Act, 2020, Farmers Produce Trade & Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Act, 2020 and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 are constitutionally valid.
The Parliament passed three laws in September 2020 Farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance & Farm Services Act, 2020, Farmers Produce Trade & Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Act, 2020 and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 (‘farm laws’). Before being enacted by the Parliament, the farm laws were promulgated as ordinances on 5 June 2020.
The farm laws seek to facilitate the selling of farmer’s produce outside of the state-designated Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC), regulate contract farming and regulate the supply of certain food items during extraordinary situations like war, famine etc.
The farmers, farmers' rights groups and the opposition political parties have severely contested the enactment of the farm laws. They suspect that the new legislative changes would adversely impact the farmers and create a private market. With allowing of trade outside of APMCs, the farmers assert that private and large companies would be able to procure produce at incidental prices. Moreover, the proposed contract farming framework might lead to land grabbing of agricultural land by corporate entities.
With the passing of the farm laws and intensified farmers’ agitation, several petitions challenging the constitutionality of farm laws were filed. Soon, petitions in support of the farm laws and petitions claiming that the farmers’ protest infringes the fundamental rights of NCR Delhi residents were also filed.
The Delhi Police filed an application on 11 January 2021 to restrict the protesting farmers from disturbing the Republic Day celebrations at Delhi. The Police claim that the farmers plan to carry out a tractor march. This would potentially lead to a massive law and order situation. The Police has sought the Court to prohibit the farmers from undertaking such form of protest.
In the latest hearing on 12 January 2021, the three-judge bench led by CJI Bobde stayed the farm laws. Bemoaning the lack of progress the Government has made to resolve this crisis, the Court set up a four-member Committee to negotiate between the farmers and the Government with the following members:
After a couple of days of the constitution of the Committee, Bhupinder Singh Mann quit noting: “I will always stand with my farmers and Punjab”.
On 17 January 2021, another petition has been filed challenging the constitution of the Committee. The Court on 20 January 2021 has issued notice and would hear the challenge on its merits in the coming days.
1. Whether the Parliament has the legislative competence to pass the farm laws?
2. Whether the farm laws are arbitrary and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India, 1950?
3. Whether the farmers’ occupation of public space to protest is violative of the residents’ fundamental rights?
4. Whether the constitution of the Committee to mediate between the farmers and the Government is legal and valid?