The Centre Wednesday withdrew its plea seeking an injunction against the proposed tractor rally on January 26 by farmers protesting against the new farms laws after the Supreme Court said "it is a police matter". The police has the 'authority' to deal with the issue pertaining to the proposed tractor march in Delhi on the Republic Day, said a bench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.
"We have told you that we will not issue any direction. It is a police matter. We will allow you to withdraw. You are the authority and you have to deal with it. You have the powers to pass orders, you do it. It is not for the court to pass orders..," the bench said in the hearing conducted via video conferencing. After the observation of the apex court, the Centre withdrew the plea.
Earlier on Monday, the court had told the Centre that it cannot be the first authority to deal with it, instead the onus falls on Delhi Police on whether to allow farmers' entry into Delhi. The bench also comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and Vineet Saran said that it is seized of the issue of farm laws and “we have not said anything on police powers”.
The Centre through the Delhi Police had said that any proposed march or protest which seeks to disrupt and disturb the Republic Day celebrations will cause an “embarrassment to the nation”.
Earlier on January 12, the top court had stayed the implementation of the contentious new farm laws till further orders and constituted the four-member committee to make recommendations to resolve the impasse over them between the Centre and farmers' unions protesting at Delhi borders.
The members of the court-appointed committee were -- Bhupinder Singh Mann, National President of Bhartiya Kisan Union, All India Kisan Coordination Committee; Parmod Kumar Joshi, Director for South Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute; Ashok Gulati, agricultural economist and former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, and Anil Ghanwat, President of Shetkari Sanghatana. Later, Mann had recused himself from the court-appointed committee.
Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, are protesting at various border points of Delhi for over a month now against the three laws -- the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act.
Enacted in September 2020, the government has presented these laws as major farm reforms aimed at increasing farmers' income, but the protesting farmers have raised concerns that these legislations would weaken the minimum support price (MSP) and "mandi" (wholesale market) systems and leave them at the mercy of big corporations. The government has maintained that these apprehensions are misplaced and has ruled out a repeal of the laws.
Meanwhile, farmer unions have begun holding tractor rallies at villages in Punjab to mobilise people for their planned tractor parade in Delhi on Republic Day. Already tractor rallies have been held in places like Nawanshahr and Gurdaspur as a build-up to the proposed January 26 event.