Farmers’ protests near Delhi borders set to intensify as the deadlock over new agricultural laws continues, the Supreme Court today expressed disappointment, saying “there’s no improvement in situation at all.”
Chief Justice SA Bobde, while hearing a petition challenging the laws, said the top court’s “intention was to encourage talks” between the government and the protesting farmers. “There’s no improvement in (the) situation at all. We understand the situation and we encourage talks,” the Chief Justice said.
Two days after the seventh round of talks failed between the farmers’ representatives and the centre, Attorney General KK Venugopal told the court: “We are discussing with farmers. There are chances of some sort of understanding between the parties.”
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta further said: “A healthy discussion is going on now.”
On Monday, Sarwan Singh Pandher of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, who attended the meet with Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, told reporters: “The Agriculture Minister clearly said during the meet that the laws will not be scrapped, he even told us to approach the Supreme Court.”
Protesting since late November near Delhi’s borders, thousands of demonstrators have been demanding the laws be scrapped. They say the legislations will leave them at the mercy of corporates.
Last week, the government said the two sides were able to come to an understanding on two of the four demands of the farmers — withdrawal of the Electricity Amendment Bill and the penal provisions for stubble burning in the Air Quality Commission Ordinance.
The protesters, however, have made it clear they would settle for nothing less than the scapping of the laws. They have threatened to intensify the agitation and have called for a “Kisaan Parade” on Republic Day in Delhi and other parts of the country.
The next round of talks is scheduled for Friday.
Last month, the Supreme Court had said the protests can continue while it stressed on the need of talks between both the sides. The court said it would refer the matter to a vacation bench and suggested that the government not take any action to implement the law till the court takes a final decision on the issue. “We make it clear that we recognise the fundamental right to protest against a law. There is no question of balancing or curtailing it. But it should not damage anyone’s life or property,” Chief Justice SA Bobde had said at the time.
The court also told the protesting farmers: “We are saying it to you. You have a right to protest. We are not going to interfere. You carry on protests. Your protest has a purpose, and that must be fulfilled by talking to someone. You simply cannot sit on protest for years.”
The top court today said they will hear the matter again on Monday.