A key member of the Supreme Court-appointed panel on contentious agri-laws on 8 September, hopeful of an early resolution to the long-running farmers’ protests on the national capital borders, said the committee’s report was 100% in favour of farmers and the Supreme Court must take up the matter without any delay.
The panel member acknowledged that the government and the Supreme Court had to consider the law and order issue that may arise with the release of the report, for which they needed to take time. He qualified it by adding, “They just cannot dump it and they should not dump it.”
Shetkari Sanghatana President Anil J Ghanwat, the panel member who had written to Chief Justice NV Ramana on 1 September urging him to make the report public, said the committee did not support repeal of the three laws, as the protesting farmers are demanding, but his organisation and he certainly believed that there were “many defects” in the laws that needed to be addressed.
It is, therefore, very important for the Supreme Court to release the report in the public domain at the earliest to clear all apprehensions of farmers, Ghanwat told news agency Press Trust of India.
“The report has to be made public at the earliest. If they do it tomorrow, that will be better… When the people will know the content of the report, they will decide whether the new farm laws are in favour of farmers or not,” he said.
“It has been five months since we have submitted our report to the court and I can’t understand what could be the reasons for the court to not take cognizance of the report,” Ghanwat said. He urged the court to release the report at the earliest.
In his letter to the CJI, Ghanwat had said, “The report has addressed all apprehensions of the farmers. The committee was confident that the recommendations will pave the way to resolve the ongoing farmers’ agitation.”
While suspending the implementation of the three farm laws, the Supreme Court had constituted a committee on 12 January 2021, to which Ghanwat was nominated as a member to represent the farming community.
Other members of the committee are Ashok Gulati, former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) and Pramod Kumar Joshi from the International Food Policy Research Institute.
“As a member of the committee, especially representing the farmers” community, I am pained that the issue raised by the farmers aren’t resolved and the agitation is continuing. I feel that the report has not been given any attention by the Hon’ble Supreme Court,” Ghanwat wrote in his letter.
He said the Supreme Court must release the panel’s report for implementation of its recommendations for “peaceful resolution of the stalemate to the farmers” satisfaction at the earliest.”
Asked if other members of the committee support the views expressed in his letter to the CJI, Ghanwat said, “Actually, they support it. But they are not ready to say it in writing. They are happy that I have raised the issue.”
He said the panel’s report is 100% in favour of farmers and of the country, but replied in negative when asked if the committee has supported the protesting farmers’ demand of repeal of the new laws.
“No. We don’t support that,” he said.
“There are many defects in the new laws. Our Shetkari Sanghatana also supported new farm laws but we had concerns too on some aspects. Many participants told the same during the deliberations,” he said. The Supreme Court-appointed panel’s member said the views of all concerned had been taken into consideration while finalising the report.
The main concern is that the minimum support price (MSP) will be wiped out, but that is not true. The new farm laws do not talk about MSP, but there was a lot of fear-mongering on this issue, he said.
Farmers have been protesting on various borders of the national capital for over nine months, demanding repeal of the three laws and also a legal guarantee for MSP.
On the possibility of implementing the new laws in a phased manner, Ghanwat said, “Of course, we can,” but he declined to share if this was one of the recommendations of the committee.
Asked if he plans to write a similar letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and concerned ministers in the government, he said, “No. The mandate for us was given by the Supreme Court. We will tell the court only. There is no relation with the government on this matter. Neither the government appointed us nor are we answerable to it.”
Ghanwat condemned the lathi charge on protesting farmers in Karnal, Haryana. He said, “It should not have happened. Their demand may not be right, but they have the right to air their views and protest.”