New Delhi, The Supreme Court on Wednesday did not leave any stone unturned to persuade the farmer unions, agitating against the three farm laws, to talk to the court-appointed committee to resolve the deadlock.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S. A. Bobde and comprising Justices A. S Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian slammed the barrage of criticism unleashed at the committee members for having expressed views on the three farm laws.
“You people unthinkingly cast aspersions on people, someone expressed some opinion in the past, and you find them unqualified,” the Chief Justice told counsel appearing for Kisan Mahapanchayat, which sought modification of its order January 12, naming the members on the committee.
The farmers union sought replacement of the existing members, who are perceived pro-farm laws, with persons, who have independent thoughts and views on the laws.
Irked by this criticism, the Chief Justice said: “People should have opinions. Even best judges have opinions, you cannot brand someone like this… a judge can change opinion within hearing. It is a cultural thing: branding people who you don’t want and criticising them like this.”
The bench stressed that its committee has not been given power of adjudication, then what is the issue. “We gave powers to listen and report back to us. Where is the question of bias here,” said the Chief Justice.
The bench emphasised that it is wrong to brand people and then malign them, insisting that aspersions should not be cast on the committee.
The Chief Justice added: “We were told this is not a case for us to adjudication, we entered for common people. Don’t brand people like that. We are adjudicating a dispute.”
Kisan Mahapanchayat’s counsel, citing media reports, had said that the perception is created that members favour the farm laws.
The bench told the counsel of farmer union that it has serious objection if the committee is termed biased and prejudiced, and cited that the members on the committee are brilliant minds in agriculture today.
As the Chief Justice also asked agitating farmer unions counsel to counsel the litigants to resolve the dispute peacefully, advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing the eight farmer unions along with Dushyant Dave, asked: “What happens if the top court were to eventually uphold the validity of the laws?”
The Chief Justice replied: “If we uphold the law, then start the agitation, counsel them (farmers) appropriately.”
He reiterated that adjudicatory power has not been conferred on the committee, and its role is to share the grievances of parties impacted by laws. Bhushan and Dave jointly stated that since the farmers’ unions represented by them have already decided not to participate in the deliberations of any committee, they have nothing to say on the instant application seeking modification of top court order passed on January 12.
The top court has scheduled the matter for further hearing after two weeks.
Thousands of farmers are agitating against the three farm laws at various Delhi border since November end. The top court stayed the implementation of the three laws on January and constituted a four-member committee to hear farmers grievances.