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Rakesh Vaishnav vs Union of India (Writ Petition (civil) No. 1118/2020)

CASE

Rakesh Vaishnav vs Union of India


CITATION

Writ Petition (civil) No. 1118/2020


CORAM

Supreme Court of India

Full bench: Former CJI S.A. Bobde, Justice A.S Bopanna and Justice V. Ramasubramanian.


ALSO KNOWN AS

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POINT OF CONSIDERATION

The Court will decide if the three farm laws: Farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance & Farm Services Act, 2020, Farmers Produce Trade & Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Act, 2020 and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 are constitutionally valid.


FACTS

  1. The Parliament passed three laws in September 2020 Farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance & Farm Services Act, 2020, Farmers Produce Trade & Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Act, 2020 and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 (‘farm laws’). Before being enacted by the Parliament, the farm laws were promulgated as ordinances on 5 June 2020.

  2. The farmers, farmers' rights groups and the opposition political parties have severely contested the enactment of the farm laws.

  3. With the passing of the farm laws and intensified farmers’ agitation, several petitions challenging the constitutionality of farm laws were filed.

  4. There were three types of petition filed before the court:

  • Petitions challenge the constitutional validity of the farm laws. Included within this category of petitions, is a petition under Article 32 challenging the validity of the Constitution (Third Amendment) Act, 1954, by which Entry 33 was substituted in List III (concurrent list) in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, enabling the Central Government also to legislate on a subject which was otherwise in the State List.

  • Petitions which support the farm laws on the ground that they are constitutionally valid and also beneficial to the farmers.

  • Petitions filed by individuals who are residents of the National Capital Territory of Delhi as well as the neighbouring States, claiming that the agitation by farmers in the peripheries of Delhi and the consequent blockade of roads/highways leading to Delhi, infringes the fundamental rights of other citizens to move freely throughout the territories of India and their right to carry on trade and business.

COURT'S ORDER

  • Constitution of a Committee

The negotiations between the farmers’ bodies and the Government have not yielded any result so far. Therefore, the court was of the view that the constitution of a Committee of experts in the field of agriculture to negotiate between the farmers’ bodies and the Government of India may create a congenial atmosphere and improve the trust and confidence of the farmers.


Thus, a Committee comprising of:

  1. Shri Bhupinder Singh Mann, National President, Bhartiya Kisan Union and All India Kisan Coordination Committee;*

  2. Dr. Parmod Kumar Joshi, Agricultural Economist, Director for South Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute;

  3. Shri Ashok Gulati, Agricultural Economist and Former Chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices; and

  4. Shri Anil Ghanwat, President, Shetkari Sanghatana,

is constituted for the purpose of listening to the grievances of the farmers relating to the farm laws and the views of the Government and to make recommendations.


*After a couple of days of the constitution of the Committee, Bhupinder Singh Mann quit noting: “I will always stand with my farmers and Punjab”.


  • Interim stay of the implementation of the farm laws

The court ordered that the implementation of the three farm laws:Farmers’

Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020; and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, shall stand stayed until further orders.


This Court cannot be said to be completely powerless to grant stay of any executive action under a statutory enactment. Even very recently this Court passed an interim Order in Dr. Jaishri Laxmanrao Patil Vs. The Chief Minister & Anr. (Civil Appeal No.3123 of 2020) directing that admissions to educational institutions for the Academic Year 2020-21 and appointments to public services and posts under the Government shall be made without reference to the reservation provided under the impugned legislation.


  • Apprehension regarding MSP

The court states that, “Insofar as the apprehension regarding MSP [Minimum Support Price] being done away with, it is submitted across the Bar that the same may not be dismantled. The learned Solicitor General also confirmed that there are inherent safgeguards, in-built in the Farm Laws, for the protection of the land of the farmers and that it will be ensured that no farmer will lose his land.”


As a consequence, the Minimum Support Price System in existence before the enactment of the Farm Laws shall be maintained until further orders. In addition, the farmers’ land holdings shall be protected, i.e., no farmer shall be dispossessed or deprived of his title as a result of any action taken under the Farm Laws.


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