Farmers' tractor rally on Republic Day: SC leaves it for Delhi police to decide

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday said that it was up to the Delhi Police to decide on the entry of protesting farmers into the Capital on Republic day, Live Law reported. The court was hearing the Centre’s petition seeking an injunction against the farmers’ proposed tractor rally on that day. The Kisan Ekta Morcha has already announced not to disrupt the Republic Day parade or even enter New Delhi, but carry out the 50-km long tractors' rally on the outer ring road, the road encircling the city that will not clash with the Republic Day Parade at all.

“The question of entry into Delhi is a law and order situation that is to be determined by the police,” CJI SA Bobde Bobde said during the hearing, while fixing further hearing in the matter on Wednesday.

The same day the Bench would also hear an affidavit by BKU (Lokshakti) seeking to disband the panel set up by the Court last Tuesday and constitute a new panel. The Court told its lawyer A P Singh: “We will hear everyone on that day. We will hear you in the same combination of the Bench.” The two other judges on the Bench are Justices L Nageswara Rao and Vineet Saran.

"Does the Supreme Court say as to what are the powers of police and how they will exercise them? We are not going to tell you what to do," Bobde told Attorney general KK Venugopal when he argued that the entry of 5,000 people in Delhi would be illegal. He said: "You are at liberty to invoke all powers under the law."

In its application filed through the Delhi Police, the government cited the historical and constitutional significance of Republic Day, and said the farmers’ march was aimed to “disturb and disrupt” the celebrations. “Any disruption or obstruction in the said functions would not only be against the law and order, public order, public interest but would also be a huge embarrassment for the nation,” it said.

The Bench told the Attorney General that the court is seized of the issue of the farm laws and "we have not said anything on police powers." At this stage, the CJI asked: "Are farmers unions appearing today," since nobody appeared for the farmers in the last hearing on Tuesday.

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave said he was representing some farmer unions in the matter, while advocate A P Singh referred to the affidavit filed by BKU (Lokshakti) last Saturday.

On January 12, the top court had stayed the implementation of the contentious new farm laws till further orders and constituted the four-member committee to make recommendations to resolve the impasse over them between the Centre and farmers' unions protesting at Delhi borders.

Bhupinder Singh Mann, national president of Bhartiya Kisan Union and all India Kisan Coordination Committee, recused himself from the committee. The Court left it to be decided on Wednesday on what to do with the committee, since the farmers have declared to boycott it and not appear before it since all its members or pro-farm laws.

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