Hours after the Supreme Court gave the BJP government an ultimatum to stay the implementation of the contentious farm laws, the Centre filed a preliminary affidavit to dispel "erroneous notion" peddled by the protesters.
Protesters are giving the false impression that the Central Government and the Parliament never had any consultative process or examination of issues by any Committee before passing of the laws in question, the agricultural ministry told the top court.
"The legislations are not hurriedly made but is a result of two decades of deliberations," the affidavit said. "The farmers of the nation are happy as they are given an additional option over and above the existing and, therefore, no vested right is taken away," it added.
The affidavit further pointed out that "the Central Government has done its best to engage with the farmers to remove any misapprehensions or misgivings in the minds of the farmers and no efforts have been found lacking."
The need for reforms in the agriculture marketing sector was felt and conceived in late nineties after kick-start of economic liberalization in the beginning of nineties so as to ensure better and competitive price realisation to the farmers and encourage capital formation in the sector, the centre submitted.
Earlier today, the Supreme Court pulled up the Centre for its alleged mishandling of talks with the farmers who are protesting the new farm laws. Tomorrow, the bench led by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde will pass orders on whether it will stay the implementation of the three contentious farm laws.
Deliberate wrong perception peddled by protesters
The affidavit has been filed to "remove a deliberate wrong perception created systematically by non-farmer elements present at the protest site and using media/social media."
The Centre submitted that when talks with the protesters were on, it "faced embarrassing moments". It may not be out of place to mention that the representatives, at times, either came with the placards of "yes" and "no" [for repeal of the laws] and did not discuss anything," the affidavit read. "On some occasions the farmers said that they shall remain silent and not speak during the discussions as they only wanted repeal of the laws and no discussions," it added.
Covid-19 accentuated the Need for barrier-free trade
While there has been long felt need to provide barrier-free trade to facilitate farmers in providing liberalized eco-system to sell their produce, the situation arising out of the COVID-19 related pandemic accentuated this need.
"As COVID-19 situation may have a prolonged effect globally on demand side, hence, it became necessary and expedient for the Union Government to promulgate Farm Reform Ordinances," it also said. The spread of COVID-19 pandemic resulted in lower demand, necessitating the need for an expanding market for farmers beyond State boundaries.
"During the COVID-19 pandemic period, realizing the immediate need to further facilitate farmers in selling their produce, six states (State of Goa, Tripura, Meghalaya, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand) through Ordinance/Bill route deregulated marketing of fruits & vegetables (direct marketing for F&V) as recommended by Model APLM Act, 2017," the affidavit pointed out.
The Executive has been "thus, actively and intensively engaging with the States for about two decades to achieve the aforesaid objectives of reforms to provide accessible and barrier free market system for better price realization but states either showed reluctance to adopt the reforms in true spirit or made partial or cosmetic reforms."
Agitation limited to one place
The agitation against the farm acts is limited "to only one place out of the whole country", the affidavit said. A majority of farmers are not only happy with the legislations but are find these legislations to be progressive and in their interest, it added. The agitation by/in the name of some of the farmers may, therefore, not be treated as reflection on the validity of the law or its efficacy and usefulness for the farmers' community," Sanjay Agarwal, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare said.