By putting on hold the implementation of the three controversial farm laws until further orders, the Supreme Court has said it is trying to solve the problem in the best way. There is little room to disagree, considering the deadlock and unlikelihood of any forward movement in the talks between the Centre and the protesting farmers. The unions’ immediate reaction not to back down from their demand of the repeal of laws is not surprising. A month-and-a-half of a peaceful, organised protest in extreme conditions, riding on popular sentiment and support, lends strength to the conviction of purpose. But opting for a point of no return and a prolonged holdout — by the government and the protesters — cannot be seen as a prudent stand. As Chief Justice Bobde observed, ‘These are matters of life and death. We are concerned with laws. We are concerned with lives and property of people affected by the agitation.’
The court’s intervention lends an opportunity to come out with possible solutions which both sides can agree not to disagree on, but questions are bound to be raised over the composition of the committee if the perception is that all the four members support the new laws. Only a suitable mix would make the discussions meaningful and lend weight to it being a forum for a frank and open discussion. If the opposition is to the manner and intent of the reform proposed and not the idea of reform itself, there is merit in bringing forth articulate, informed depositions on the pros and cons, the apprehensions, the distrust. Much of the onus lies on the government. It has to show its willingness to new proposals and assurances that the farmers cannot do without.
Keeping in view the proposed protest march in the Capital on Republic Day, a notice has been issued to the unions on a Delhi Police plea to stop their tractor rally during the January 26 parade. The fervent hope is that the need for such a protest does not arise.
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