Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench that once the matter is before the highest Constitutional court, nobody can be on the streets on the same issue.

Several farmers sitting on a road holding up flags and protest bannersImage for representation/ PTI
news Court Monday, October 04, 2021 - 17:26

The Supreme Court on Monday, October 4, decided to examine a larger Constitutional issue on whether farmers have the absolute right to protest against the Union government’s three farm laws, against the backdrop of a stay on the laws by the top court. The three new farm laws have already been stayed, the Supreme Court said on Monday, and asked a farmers' body what it is protesting against when these legislations are not in place.

A bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and CT Ravikumar said, “Where is the question of going on protest once a party has already approached the court challenging the validity of the laws.” When Attorney General KK Venugopal referred to the Lakhimpur Kheri incident in which eight people were killed on Sunday, the bench said nobody takes the responsibility when such incidents happen. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench that once the matter is before the highest Constitutional court, nobody can be on the streets on the same issue.

"Choose either you come to court or go on road to protest..," it told the counsel, advocate Ajay Choudhary representing a farmers' body. The counsel submitted that the hearing is not progressing on the pleas challenging the validity of three laws. Attorney General KK Venugopal, representing the Union government, submitted that when the matter is sub judice, there should not be any protest on it.

"A large number of pleas (challenging the farm laws) have been filed... an unfortunate event happened at Lakhimpur Kheri," he submitted. At this, the bench replied: "When such events happen, nobody takes the responsibility."

Read: Governments, politicians in India hide behind ‘sub judice’ to sidestep questions

The top court was hearing a plea filed by a farmers' body protesting against the three new farm laws and seeking directions to authorities to allow it to stage 'satyagrah' at Jantar Mantar here. The Kisan Mahapanchayat, the farmers and agriculturists’ body, and its president have also sought directions to the concerned authorities to provide space to at least 200 farmers or protestors of the body at the Jantar Mantar, to organise a peaceful and non-violent Satyagrah.

The bench, which posted the matter for hearing on October 21, transferred to itself the plea, which was filed by the farmers' body before the Rajasthan High Court challenging the validity of the three farm laws.

Several farmer organisations are protesting against the passage of three laws — The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020.

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