The Supreme Court on Thursday acknowledged the right of farmers to non-violent protests, and said it was thinking of setting up an "impartial and independent" panel of agriculture experts and farmer unions to resolve the impasse over three contentious farm laws.
A bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde said it would set up the committee which may include experts like P Sainath and representatives of the government and farmers' bodies to look for the resolution of the deadlock over the statutes.
The bench also comprising justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, "We acknowledge the right of farmers to protest but it has to be non-violent."
In a hearing conducted via video conferencing, the top court said the purpose of staging protest can be achieved if the farmers and the government will hold talks and "we wish to facilitate that".
"We will not decide the validity of law today. The only thing which we will decide is the issue of protest and the right to move freely," the bench made clear at the outset of the hearing.
During the hearing, the Supreme Court also asked the Union government whether it will consider not implementing the laws while the case is being heard. According to Live Law, the Attorney General expressed difficulty in doing so. The court also asked the Union government to consider not taking any executive action under laws to facilitate the negotiations, to which, the AG said he will get back after taking instructions.
The Supreme Court is hearing a clutch of petitions seeking removal of farmers protesting at several roads along Delhi's borders. The petitioner has cited the Supreme Court’s Shaheen Bagh judgement, where the court had said that public places cannot be occupied indefinitely, to seek that the farmers be removed from the spots they are protesting.
Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and elsewhere have been protesting near various border points of Delhi including Singhu and Tikri for over the past 22 days demanding the Centre repeal three new farm laws.