The Supreme Court-appointed committee to resolve the impasse over farm laws is currently meeting at the Indian Council of Agricultural Research in Delhi. This is the first meeting of the panel which was set up by the top court. The meeting comes even as farmers' groups rejected the committee, which according to them comprises members who had favoured the Centre's laws.
Last week, the court had stayed the implementation of the farm laws till further orders and constituted a four-member committee to make recommendations to resolve the impasse over them between the Centre and farmers' unions protesting at Delhi borders. Bhartiya Kisan Union president Bhupinder Singh Mann, however, recused himself from the committee last week. Apart from Shetkari Sanghatana (Maharashtra) president Anil Ghanwat, agriculture economists Ashok Gulati and Pramod Kumar Joshi are the other panel members.
Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been protesting at various border points of Delhi for over a month now demanding repeal of 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 central 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 ruled out a repeal of the laws.
The previous nine rounds of formal talks between the Centre and 41 farmer unions have failed to yield any concrete results to end the long-running protest at Delhi's borders as the latter have stuck to their main demand of a complete repeal of the three acts. The tenth round of talks will take place on Wednesday afternoon.
Meanwhile, farmers have said that they will continue with the proposed tractor parade on the Republic Day. In another related development, the Supreme Court on Monday said tractor parade by farmers on the Republic Day is a matter of law and order and that Delhi Police is the first authority to decide who should be allowed to enter the national capital. The court will hear the matter on January 20.
In another related development, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has expressed hope that protesting farmer unions will discuss alternatives other than the repeal of the new farm laws in the tenth round of talks and appealed to them not to go ahead with their tractor rally on Republic Day in Delhi. "I am hopeful that farmers' unions will discuss alternatives (other than the repeal of the laws) so that we can reach a solution," he told reporters.