New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to entertain the Centre’s plea seeking to restrain the agitating farmers from taking out a kisan tractor rally on Republic Day in Delhi and regretted that the “reputation” of the four members of the expert committee set up by it to end the deadlock was being “torn to shreds”.
However, it issued notice on the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Lokshakti) plea for reconstitution of the expert committee formed to hear all parties to the dispute and submit a report with its recommendations.
Telling attorney-general K.K. Venugopal and solicitor-general Tushar Mehta it was for the police to take a call on allowing or not allowing the rally, Chief Justice Sharad A. Bobde, heading a three-judge bench that included Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, asked them to withdraw the application the seeking restraint order, which they did.
The court also turned down a plea by the attorney-general and solicitor-general to keep the application pending and consider it on January 25 depending on the situation.
“No, no. This is not a matter for the court to decide. You have the powers under the law”, CJI Bobde said, reiterating: “We have told you it is for the police to decide. We won't pass orders. We will allow you to withdraw this application. You are the authority. You decide.”
The court lamented the criticism of four members of the expert panel it set up on January 12 to find ways to break the deadlock. The presence of Bhupinder Singh Mann, Parmod Kumar Joshi, Ashok Gulati and Anil Ghanwat on the panel was questioned as all four have voiced support for the three farm laws whose repeal is sought by the agitating farmers. Mann, president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union, had subsequently recused himself from the panel, saying he can’t go against the agitating farmers.
As senior counsel Dushyant Dave and Prashant Bhushan, representing eight of the 40 farmers’ unions, said they don’t want to engage with any committee as they are seeking repeal of the three laws, CJI Bobde said: “If you don’t want to appear before the committee, we can’t compel you. But you cannot malign people like this and cast aspersions on them, and also the court. If you don’t want to appear, don’t appear. Why do you need to brand people like this?”