Manoj Jha
Manoj Jha

Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Manoj Jha approached the Supreme Court on Saturday to challenge the constitutional validity of the three newly enacted agriculture laws.

Jha, Rajya Sabha member of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), said the Farmers' (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020 were "discriminatory and manifestly arbitrary" and would expose marginal farmers to exploitation by big corporates.

The Parliament recently passed the three Bills which came into effect from September 27 after President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent.

Earlier, Congress MP from Kerala TN Prathapan and Tiruchi Siva, MP from Tamil Nadu from the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party had moved the Supreme Court against the Farmers Acts.

The legislations corporatise agriculture and ushers in an unregulated and exploitative regime, the plea said.

"A farmer would not have the knowledge to negotiate the best terms with a private company. This leads to unequal bargaining position in negotiating the farm agreement with corporates and would lead to corporates monopolising the agriculture sector," it added.

These Acts encourage the "corporatisation" of Indian agriculture which is the lifeline of the poor farmers and key to the survival of the nation's agriculture sector, the petition stated.

"The Acts primarily intend to sacrifice the interest of the farmers and leave them at the mercy of the sponsors without any proper dispute resolution mechanism. The Acts provide for 'farming agreements' between the farmers (of whom 85% are marginal farmers owning up to two acres) and the Corporate entities," the plea stated.

In his petition, Jha contended that the Acts were passed by Parliament in "breach of the Parliamentary Rules and convention" and that the Acts were "unconstitutional on the ground that it is discriminatory" and "manifestly arbitrary" and further violate the basic structure of the Constitution.

"The price determination mechanism under new laws is only through the agreements between the corporate entities and farmers and does not stipulate that the price should not be below the minimum selling price (MSP) and does not even guarantee the price given by the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC)," the RJD leader said.

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