On Monday, Chief Justice SA Bobde said the court was “extremely disappointed” with the Centre’s response to the farmers’ protests, and reiterated its intention to set up an expert committee to investigate farmers’ concerns about the Centre’s contentious farm laws.
“We do not know what consultation was conducted before these laws were enacted,” the CJI said at the hearing, adding that ” whole state was up in arms.”
The CJI criticized the central government for continuing to say that it was engaged in farmers’ discussions. Attorney General KK Venugopal said that during this hearing new talks were scheduled for 15 January and yet were not engaging with the farmers.
“If there is a sense of responsibility, you can demonstrate this now by saying that the laws will not be enforced,” CJI Bobde suggested, saying, “We don’t see why there should be pressure at all costs to enforce the laws.”
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The Chief Justice added that if the Centre was not willing to stay the implementation of the laws themselves, the apex court would do so, which would allow better negotiations with the farmers and ensure the expert committee set up by the court could properly address the concerns over the law.
On the last hearing day, December 17, the CJI-led bench had suggested that the Centre should put on hold the implementation of three laws to facilitate talks. The bench also observed it was thinking of setting up a neutral committee to hold talks.
“Parties have placed the court in a delicate situation. We are reading reports about parties saying courts will decide. Our intention is clear. We want an amicable solution to the problem. That is why we asked you last time, why don’t you keep the laws on hold. But you are keeping asking on time.
“What is the problem in keeping it in abeyance? We asked you this last occasion. But you haven’t replied. And the matter is getting worse. People are committing suicide. People are suffering in the cold,” the CJI remarked.