Press Trust of india

SC seeks Centre’s reply on Congress MP’s plea against farm laws

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New Delhi:  The Supreme Court Thursday sought the Centre’s reply on a plea by T N Prathapan, Congress MP from Kerala, challenging the Constitutional validity of three contentious farm laws.

A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian issued notice to the central government on the plea and ordered  tagging it with the ones pending on the issue.

Prathapan, who represents Thrissur Lok Sabha constituency in Kerala, has alleged that the laws are violative of Article 14 (right to equality), 15 (prohibition of discrimination) and 21 (right to life and liberty) of the Constitution.

He said the laws are “liable to be struck down as unconstitutional, illegal and void”.

Prathapan, in the plea filed through lawyer James P Thomas, said: “Indian Agriculture is characterised by fragmentation due to small holdings and has certain inherent weaknesses beyond control such as dependence on weather, uncertainties in production and an unpredictable market. This makes agriculture risky and inefficient in respect of both input and output management.”

It said the challenges faced by farmers such as dependence on weather, cannot be addressed by monetisation of the produce to increase their income, instead strengthening the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) system by infusing more capital and effective management of Minimum Support Price.

“The number of farmers that the Centre assumed for calculating the cost of PM-Kisan scheme is from the Agriculture Census of 2015-16, which had put the number of operational agriculture land holdings in the country at 14.5 crore.

“The matter is of substantial public interest and is emergent as there is need for striking down laws which violate the rights of the 14.5 crore citizens who are engaged in farming before serious financial damage is caused to them and the families of such persons,” it said.

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

Prior to this, the court on September 28 last year, had issued notice to the Centre on similar pleas filed by Rashtriya Janta Dal lawmaker from Rajya Sabha, Manoj Jha and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) Rajya Sabha MP from Tamil Nadu, Tiruchi Siva, and a petition filed by Rakesh Vaishnav.

The three laws — Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020 — took effect from September 27 after President Ram Nath Kovind’s assent.

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