The Supreme Court today said a committee would be formed to take over negotiations to end the massive farmer protests near Delhi and told the centre it has the power to suspend the three controversial laws at the core of the agitation.
“These are matters of life and death. We are concerned with laws. We are concerned with lives and property of people affected by the agitation. We are trying to solve the problem in the best way. One of the powers we have is to suspend the legislation,” Chief Justice SA Bobde said.
“We want to solve the problem and that’s why we are making the committee. Give the names to us, we will decide,” he added.
The judges also rebuffed the lawyer for protesting farmers, ML Sharma, as he said farmers would not participate in the committee as Prime Minister Narendra Modi had refused to talk to them.
“We cannot ask the PM anything, he is not a party before us,” said the Chief Justice.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court had said it was “extremely disappointed” by the government’s handling of the crisis.
“Each one of us we will responsible if anything goes wrong. We don’t want any injuries or blood on our hands,” the Chief Justice said in a series of stern comments.
As the centre asked for more time, referring to ongoing negotiations, Justice Bobde said: “We don’t see you are dealing with this issue effectively. We are taking a decision today. Who is going to be responsible for bloodshed if any?”
The farmers, who have been camping on highways outside Delhi for more than a month, have declared a protest march on January 26, when the nation celebrates Republic Day.
Later, the Centre said in a reply to the court that a disruption during the Republic Day parade “will be an embarrassment to the nation.”
The laws, said the government were not hurriedly made; they were the result of two decades of deliberations.
The government has, in eight rounds of talks with farmer unions, ruled out withdrawing the laws but has reasserted it is open to amendments.
The farmers say they will accept nothing short of the government cancelling the laws, which they believe will kill their guaranteed earnings and benefit corporates. They have refused to buy the central government’s argument that the laws will bring long-delayed reforms in the agriculture sector by doing away with middlemen and allowing farmers to sell anywhere in the country.
The next meeting between the government and farmers will be held on Friday.