Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Monday advised Congress-ruled states to explore the legal options which will enable them to circumvent the farm laws passed by the Centre.
In this context, Sonia has specifically referred to Article 254(2) of the Constitution, which allows the state legislature to pass a law to negate anti-agriculture Central laws. .The move has come at a time when farmers in different parts of the country are agitating against laws they perceive to be 'anti-farmer'.
Giving an indication of the mood within the part, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and his Chhattisgarh counterpart Bhupesh Baghel also asserted the state government’s right to frame laws on subjects in the concurrent list related to agriculture and agricultural markets.
Taking a cue from the High Command, Thrissur Congress MP TN Prathapan(60) became the first petitioner to challenge in the Supreme Court one of the three farm laws enacted by Parliament on September 17-18 and initialled by the President on Sunday.
The specific Act which has been challenged allows the farmer to enter into a price agreement with the buyer who can be agri-business firm, a processor, a wholesaler, an exporter or a large retailer, even before the sowing operations.
The 51-page writ petition filed by Prathapan seeks the apex court’s direction to declare the Act and related notifications as unconstitutional, illegal and void. He has pointed out that the Act fails to establish farmer-centric courts where farmers can raises their grievances, similar to ones created under the Labour Act, the Consumer Act and the family courts and instead puts the full onus on a sub-divisional magistrate who already has multiple other duties and functions to perform.
The petitioner has also voiced fears that unchecked hoarding will give exporters, processors and traders the power to regulate the prices of the produce and create artificial demand to control prices in the market at will.
The protests against the Farmers’ legislations are not confined to Congress-ruled states. Thousands of farmers across BJP-ruled Karnataka joined the countrywide protest this morning. Protests were held in several cities, including state capital Bengaluru. By noon, hundreds of farmers were seen holding demonstrations outside the Town Hall. Others blocked roads in parts of the city till they were told to move by the police.
In the national capital, Congress activists set on fire a tractor near India Gate, a few hundred metres from the President House and the Parliament. Around 20 people carried a tractor on a truck to Rajpath, unloaded it and set it on fire. Speaking to NDTV, Amarinder Singh said the incident "shows the anger of the people". "They don't know now who is going to buy the food from them. If a farmer's child is ill, how is he going to arrange the money if there are no commission agents," the Punjab Chief Minister said, dismissing claims by opponents that his protest was a 'political stunt'.
Singh also warned that Pakistan's ISI could exploit farmers' anger in the “entire nation”.