The Supreme Court on Wednesday decided to hear on Monday all pleas related to the farmers' protest on Delhi’s borders for the past 41 days, but agreed to adjourn the hearing if it is told on Monday that the talks between the government and the farmers are still under way.
Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde, who is heading a 3-judge Bench, remarked that the intention of the court is to encourage and facilitate the talks, but it is concerned that "there is absolutely no improvement in the ground situation."
CJI Bobde was reacting to Solicitor General Tushar Mehta’s submission that it may not be advisable to take up the matter immediately as talks were on between the farmers and the Centre; this submission was buttressed by Attorney General K K Venugopal's contention that there is a good chance of the parties reaching some conclusion.
The Bench was hearing a petition filed by Delhi lawyer Manohar Lal Sharma, who injected a new element in the controversy by challenging a 1954 constitutional amendment that put agriculture in the concurrent list, giving an advantage to the Centre to enact the farm laws, usurping the rights of the states in the original Constitution.
When the Attorney General wanted Sharma's petition thrown out, saying no state had objected to the 75-year old amendment, the CJI quipped that the lawyer petitioner feels otherwise -- that the Centre and the States are colluding for the last 75 years.
Backing Sharma, the Bench said he is in a habit of filing "startling petitions" and the "startling" point in this petition is the challenge to the 1954 amendment; he accordingly issued notice to the Centre to file its response. AG Venugopal said a response by the Centre could foreclose avenues of negotiations under way between farmers and Centre.
The 3-judge Bench initially wanted to hear all pleas pertaining to the farmers' protests on Friday, but agreed to list them on Monday, when told by the Solicitor General that the talks are already pre-fixed on Friday.
Besides the challenge to the contentious farm laws, the Supreme Court is also hearing petitions seeking removal of farmers from the protest sites at the Delhi-NCR border areas on the ground that they are causing inconvenience to public due to the blockade.
One of the petitions filed by Delhi's law student Rishabh Sharma stated that it is necessary to remove the gathering as it is blocking roads and disrupting emergency/medical services in Delhi where Covid-19 cases are increasing rapidly.
The Supreme Court has, however, categorically refused to pass any orders in that regard. Instead, it is contemplating formation of a committee of agricultural experts and independent persons to break the deadlock between the government and the farmers.