Supreme Court puts India’s new farm laws on hold, forms panel


India’s Supreme Court on Tuesday put on hold the implementation of the three new farm laws of the Narendra Modi government and formed a committee comprising mostly agriculturists to hear the grievances of the farmer unions against the laws.

Hundreds of thousands of farmers have virtually laid siege to India’s national capital Delhi for more than a month, demanding that the laws be repealed.

They allege the laws are designed for a corporate takeover of India’s agriculture sector and will be the death knell for small farmers.

The government says the laws are much needed reform for the farm sector.

Eight round of talks between the government and representatives of farmers’ unions have failed to break the deadlock.

We are going to suspend the implementation of the three farm laws until further orders,” a bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said on Tuesday, a day after it rapped the government on the knuckles over its failure to resolve the impasse.

The Chief Justice mentioned the names of agriculture economist Ashok Gulati, Dr. Pramod Kumar Joshi, Anil Dhanawat and BS Mann to be on the committee to hear the farmers’ issues regarding the laws.

The top court also issued notice on the Delhi police application seeking to stop farmers from entering the national capital to hold a tractor rally on India’s Republic Day, January 26.

A tractor rally in Delhi on Republic Day, when India shows off its arms and culture in a parade, would be an embarrassment for the Narendra Modi government that wears its “nationalistic” credentials on its sleeve.

It was not immediately clear whether the protesting farmers would accept the Supreme Court panel. The farmers have repeatedly said their demand is focused on total repeal of the laws.

Indian news agencies quoted farmer leaders as saying that they welcomed the Supreme Court staying the implementation of the farm laws, but their protest would continue till the laws were repealed.


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