Chandigarh, Sep, 22: The Punjab and Haryana high court on Thursday said it would enlarge the scope of a petition and club all other similar matters pending in the court to find out why farmers of Punjab are in distress. The observations were made by the division bench of justices AK Mittal and Amit Rawal during the resumed hearing of a petition filed by a Patiala resident against Friday’s protest of farmers in Patiala.

law officers

“We are not saying it (protest) is unreasonable. As far as wider issue is concerned, it should be considered… But what if any untoward incident happens,” the bench observed as the advocate for farmers, RS Bains, argued that farmers be allowed to enter Patiala to protest against delay in loan waiver by the state government.

(Later in the day, farmers were given a site 10km from Patiala for their five-day protest.)

Bains argued that farmers were merely demanding that government keep its promise of waiver and give a deadline. “We are a democratic country. People have the right to protest. How can they stop us from protesting?” Bains argued. He also told the court that as many as 167 lives have been lost since April in suicides by either farmers or farm labourers.

The bench too referred to reported observations of the Supreme Court that promises made in poll manifesto be honoured by political parties.

Later the court directed the farmer leaders to approach the deputy commissioner of Patiala with the application to allow them to hold protest, and posted matter for Monday for further hearing. The court also allowed the presence of paramilitary till September 26 in the areas where the protest is proposed.


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