The top court is hearing a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the laws.
The Supreme Court on Monday indicated it may stay for the present the implementation of the contentious new farm laws to let an expert committee study the grievances against it.
“Tell us whether you will put the laws on hold or else we will do it. What’s the prestige issue here?” a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde said while hearing petitions challenging the law.
A formal order may be passed, within a day, also setting up a committee comprising agricultural experts who will look into the grievances against the new laws. The committee could be headed by former CJI RM Lodha.
The bench took a dim view of the government’s refusal to put the laws on hold despite continuing protests by thousands of famers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, in the bitter winter cold.
“Farmers are dying in the cold and are committing suicide. We don’t know what talks are being held,” CJI Bobde said. “Why can’t you put off the laws?”
The court said there was nothing to show that a consultative process was not formed while framing the laws which allow private companies to procure produce directly from farmers.
“We are sorry to say that you haven’t been able to solve the problem. We don’t think you are handling it properly or that you are effective,” the court said.
When Attorney General KK Venugopal sought more time to explore the possibility of an amicable solution, the CJI said, ” “We have given you a long rope, Mr Attorney General, please don’t lecture us on patience.”
Won’t protect law breakers: SC
The CJI said the continuing protests were untenable as any small incident, deliberate or otherwise, could lead to breach of peace.
“We can’t have blood on our hands. Who’s going to take responsibility for any bloodshed if this sabre rattling continues and results in a conflagration?” he said.
The court said the protesters could go on with their agitation even after the implementation of the laws were stayed, without taking the law into their hands.
“We are not going to protect any law breakers. We want to prevent the loss of property and lives,” the court said adding that law and order issues wil be taken care of by the police.
The protests have been on at the borders of Delhi for more than 40 days now, and talks were in limbo after the eighth round because the Centre wanted to discuss the laws clause by clause while the farmers wanted them repealed.