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SC Issues Notice To Centre On Plea To Reconstitute Committee On Farm Laws

A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bodbe said it would hear the petition and asked Attorney General to file a response to the plea.

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice to the Central government and asked Attorney General KK Venugopal to respond to a plea filed by Kisan Mahapanchayat to reconstitute the Committee after one member recused himself.

This comes after Bhupinder Singh Mann, National President of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Mann) recused himself from the 4-member committee appointed by Supreme Court over the new farm laws.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bodbe said it would hear the petition and asked Attorney General to file a response to the plea.

"This court appointed a committee of experts in the field of agriculture. The purpose of the appointment was clear -- that is to listen to the grievances of the parties affected by the impugned laws with reference to the provisions enacted. 

Adjudicatory powers have not been conferred on the committee. The committee's role is to hear the grievances of the parties affected and make a report to the court," the Supreme Court said in its order.

"Sardar Bhupinder Singh Mann has resigned from the Committee. This has resulted in a vacancy in the committee. Kisan Mahapanchayat moves court seeking direction to fill up the vacancy. Notice issued in the application," the Bench added.

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave and advocate Prashant Bhushan appearing on behalf of some farmers unions told the court that since the unions represented by them have decided not to participate in the deliberations of the committee, they have nothing to say about this application.

"No power has been given to committee members to adjudicate things, they have to report to us. Where is the question of bias? If you don't want to appear before the committee, don't appear but don't malign or brand anyone like this, don't cast aspersion on the court," the CJI said.

During the hearing, the top court said that it doesn't want to be subject to maligning and that it can't base verdicts on public opinion.

"You just malign them for some opinion expressed in the past. The Supreme Court has appointed someone and you shred their reputation," it added.

"We are telling you that you are appearing for a farmers union, the Kisan Mahapanchayat that wants the committee to change. Your demand is to change the committee. What is the basis for this? These people (in Committee) are the brightest minds in agriculture today. They have an expertise that their critics do not have and you are maligning them," the Bench observed.

The Bench said the Committee doesn't have the power to adjudicate the case but to hear the grievances of farmers.

"Where is the question of bias in this? We have not given adjudicating powers to the committee. You don't want to appear before the Committee is understandable, but casting aspersions on someone because he expressed his view is not done. You don't need to brand anybody like this," CJI Bobde said.

"Everyone should have an opinion. Even judges have opinions. This has become a cultural thing. Branding people that you do not want has become the norm. We have not given any power of adjudication to the committee," the Bench added.

The Supreme Court asked the advocate appearing for Kisan Mahapanchayat whether it's the same organisation that rejected the constitution of the committee yesterday. The advocate replied in negative.

"We took up the case in the interest of the public. Now, you want to brand us? What do you mean read newspapers? Are you going to adjudicate on newspapers? Public opinion is important but it is not determinative for the court. If you can muster public opinion that can malign someone that doesn't mean it will affect the court. We have judgments saying public opinion cannot say whether someone is biased. We have serious objections to our appointed committee members being called names. We want the committee to tell us what clauses have a problem. We don't want experts to be the subject of the maligning. I am very disappointed to see what's been appearing in the press," CJI Bobde said.

The Supreme Court also said that it will not pass any order on the Centre's plea against the proposed tractor rally or any other kind of protest by farmers on Republic Day.

"We have said that it is for the Police to decide. We are not going to pass the orders. You are the authority to take action," the Chief Justice of India said.

If we uphold farm laws then you can start agitation but peace has to be maintained, he asserted.

Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for eight farmers unions, told the CJI that farmers only want to celebrate the Republic Day on outer ring road peacefully and there is no attempt to destroy peace. 


Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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