SC issues notice to Centre on pleas against farm laws

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New Delhi, October 12

The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to the Centre on petitions challenging the validity of the recently enacted farm laws that have triggered protests in various parts of the country, particularly Punjab.

A Bench, headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, asked the Centre to respond to the petitions in four weeks.

When the matter was taken up, the Bench refused to entertain advocate ML Sharma’s petition, saying he didn’t have a cause of action.

“Mere passage of a legislation cannot be a valid cause of action,” the Bench told Sharma.

However, it agreed to issue a notice to the Centre after advocate K Parameshwara submitted a petition on behalf of the Chhattisgarh Kisan Congress that there were other petitions against farm laws as well.

Pointing out that different high courts might pass different orders, Parameshwara said it would be better if the matter was dealt with by the top court.

“The questions raised in the rest of the petitions will have to be answered by the Centre at some forum or the other,” the Bench told Attorney General KK Venugopal while issuing the notice.

There are several petitions against the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020, which were passed by Parliament and assented to by President Ram Nath Kovind last month.

The petitioners include TN Prathapan, Congress MP from Trissur in Kerala; DMK MP Tiruchi Siva, RJD MP Manoj Jha and the Bhartiya Kisan Party.

In its petition filed on October 5, the Bhartiya Kisan Party contended that the new farm laws violated the basic features of the Constitution. The party submitted that agriculture was a state subject under List II of Schedule VII of the Constitution and therefore, Parliament didn’t have the legislative competence to make laws on the subject.

RJD MP Jha contended the farm laws were “discriminatory” and would expose marginal farmers to exploitation by big companies.

Siva submitted the new farm laws would be disastrous for the farming community as they gave an “uneven edge over the farmers’ interest in favour of the sponsor or the farm service provider” while Prathapan said they opened the door for “corporate greed” of multinational companies to trample on the agriculture market.

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