Supreme Court, SA Bobde, AS Bopanna, Kisan Mahapanchayat

Court-appointed panel was not conferred with any adjudicatory powers: SC

The Supreme Court on Wednesday clarified that the purpose of constituting a four-member committee was to listen to the grievances of the parties impacted by three farm laws and it has not given any adjudicatory powers to the panel.
A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian gave the clarification in the order on a plea of ‘Kisan Mahapanchayat’, a farmers’ body from Rajasthan seeking removal of three remaining members of the apex-court appointed panel and the replacement of Bhupinder Singh Mann, who had recused himself from the committee.
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.
The members of the court-appointed committee were Mann, National President of Bhartiya Kisan Union, All India Kisan Coordination Committee; Parmod Kumar Joshi, Director for South Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute; Ashok Gulati, agricultural economist and former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, and Anil Ghanwat, President of Shetkari Sanghatana.
The bench said in its order, “The purpose of constituting the Committee was clear that is to listen to the grievances of the parties impacted by the three impugned farms laws viz., (1) Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; (2) Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020; and (3) Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, (hereinafter referred to as the ‘farm laws’) with reference to the provisions enacted therein”.
It said that “adjudicatory powers have not been conferred on the Committee. The Committee’s role is to hear the grievances of the parties impacted by the impugned legislation and make a report to this Court”.
It noted that Mann, has recused from the Committee on January 13, 2021 and this has resulted in a vacancy, which has triggered this application filed by ‘Kisan Mahapanchayat’.
The bench also recorded the submission of senior advocate Dushyant Dave and advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for eight of farmers’ unions that since they have already decided not to participate in the deliberations of any Committee, they have nothing to say on the instant application for modification of this Court’s order dated January 12, 2021.
The bench issued notice to Centre on the plea of ‘Kisan Mahapanchayat’ and posted the matter for hearing after two weeks alongwith other pending matters.
During the hearing, the top court expressed strong displeasure over the aspersions cast by some farmers” unions on members of the court-appointed committee to resolve the impasse over new farm laws, saying no adjudicating authority has been given to the panel of experts who are “brilliant minds in the field of agriculture”.
Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, are protesting at various border points of Delhi for over a month now against the three laws.