Mumbai: A farmers’ group has taken its fight for higher remuneration and other issues to the Supreme Court, where it has filed a petition challenging an Article in the Constitution which it claims is against cultivators. The Kisaan Putra Andolan (KPA), a movement started in Maharashtra by farmers’ activist Amar Habib, filed the petition in the apex court on March 21 seeking abolition of the Constitution’s Article 31B and a Schedule under it, while dubbing them as “anti-farmer”.
The movement’s members are of the view that the abolition of Article 31B will pave way for challenging many laws that are the cause of agrarian crisis in the country. According to KPA, some of these laws come under the Agricultural Land Ceiling Act, the Essential Commodities Act and the Land Acquisition Act, which are part of the Constitution’s Ninth Schedule. Notably, laws under the Ninth Schedule are not open to judicial review.
Habib, a close aide of Shetkari Sanghatana leader late Sharad Joshi, said that times have changed and so has the government’s attitude. Instead of going for street agitations, KPA has identified the root cause of the agrarian crisis and will remove it with the help of judiciary, he told reporters here yesterday.
Explaining how they feel these laws are “anti-farmer”, KPA activist Makarand Doijad, who filed the petition in SC, said as per the Essential Commodities Act, every person has the right to determine the price of his product, storage capacity and transportation for every business, except cultivators. “The central government possesses all these rights with it, it decides prices of agriculture produce and everything related to it,” he said.
The government has also restricted land holdings of farmers, which means they cannot own land more than the determined limit, Doijad said. “Article 31B itself is non-constitutional as it violates the right to equality and justice to all citizens of the country since it says that all laws incorporated as part of the Ninth Schedule cannot be challenged in any court of law,” he claimed.
Habib said this means farmers cannot challenge these laws which are “draconian in nature”. “If we are able to abolish these laws then the government won’t need to provide any farm loan waiver,” he said.