The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), the apex body of the farmers, on Tuesday welcomed the Supreme Court's decision to stay implementation of the three contentious farm laws, but declared it will not meet a 4-member panel appointed by it since all the members had in the past supported these so-called reforms.
The farmers said none of them appeared before the Supreme Court since they did not perceive farm laws as a legal issue; rather, they saw it as a matter of livelihood.
They said the Supreme Court appears to have been misguided by various forces in choosing the committee members. "These are the people who are known for their support to the three Acts and have actively advocated for the same," they said.
Bharatiya Kisan Union chief Rakesh Tikait, who is leading the farm contingent of western Uttar Pradesh, took to twitter to express displeasure over the move. He pointed out that Ashok Gulati had headed the committee that recommended enactment of these laws. He said all members of the expert panel are pro-farm laws and they have publicly espoused their stand.
The farmers' rejoinder came within an hour of the Chief Justice of India Sharad Bobde appealing to the farmers to cooperate with the panel to resolve their problems. He said those who "genuinely want resolution will go to the committee. He told the farmers that "this is not politics and there is a difference between politics and judiciary and you will have to cooperate."
Here is the background of the panel members dubbed as pro-farm laws.
Delhi-based Ashok Gulati, (61) a Padma Shri of 2015, is a past chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, the body that advises the government on food supplies and minimum support prices (MSP).
Bhupinder Singh Mann (81), a member of the Rajya Sabha from 1990-1996, nominated in recognition of his contribution to the farmers' struggle, is a close associate of the late Sharad Joshi of Maharashtra's Shetkari Sanghatana. Despite hailing from Punjab, he did not associate with the current protests.
Ahil Ghanwat is the president of the Shetkari Sanghatana, which has a presence in in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat and other neighbouring states.
Trained under Sharad Joshi, Ghanwat declared last month that his members won't join the raging protest as they are opposed to any move to roll back the three farm laws. He said in December that the farm laws will allow farmers an access to a free market, which had been denied thus far. He felt it would entail better prices for the farmers.
The Uttarakhand-born agriculture scientist Dr Pramod Kumar Joshi (67) is the director for South Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute in New Delhi.