On farmers' planned tractor rally on Republic Day, SC says entry into Delhi to be decided by police

Says their intervention has been misunderstood

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 18

Noting that its intervention to resolve the deadlock over farmers' protests against farms laws has been misunderstood, the Supreme Court on Monday said it was for the Delhi Police to take a call if farmers' should be allowed to enter the national capital with their tractor rally.

Also read: Farmers have constitutional right to take out tractor rally: Unions

 "Our intervention has been strongly misunderstood...Who will come in the city and who will be allowed will not be seen by us," a Bench headed by CJI SA Bobde told the Centre while hearing a plea filed by the Delhi Police to stop farmers' proposed tractor rally on January 26.

"You are at liberty to invoke all powers under the law," the CJI told the Attorney General KK Venugopal.

Farmers at Ghazipur border during their ongoing protest against new farm laws in New Delhi on Monday. Tribune Photo: Manas Ranjan Bhui

CJI Bobde said the matter will be taken up when he sits in a Bench with Justice AS Bopanna and Justice V Ramasubramanian.

 The top court adjourned the matter to Wednesday even as Solicitor-General said there were issues to be addressed.

 Top court said it's for the Delhi Police to decide whether to allow farmers to enter Delhi and if allowed to enter the national capital, how many, and on what conditions.

 The Delhi Police are the first authority to decide it and not the Supreme Court, clarified the CJI.

 A farmers' group cites request to the Delhi Police to allow entry into Delhi on January 26.

Farmers at Ghazipur border during their ongoing protest against new farm laws in New Delhi on Monday. Tribune Photo: Manas Ranjan Bhui

The top court -- which stayed the implementation of the three farm laws on January 12 -- said the question of entry into Delhi is a law and order issue and it's for the Delhi Police to decide if protesters can enter the city.

 "We said this last time that entry to Delhi has to be seen under the Delhi police. Invoke all your powers to see whether farmers can be allowed in the city,"  the CJI tells Attorney General KK Venugopal.

The Delhi Police had filed a plea seeking direction to stop farmers'proposed tractor rally on Republic Day.

Women from farmer families participate in ongoing protest against new farm laws at Ghazipur border in New Delhi on Monday. Tribune Photo: Manas Ranjan Bhui

 "Who can be allowed or not are matters of law and order will be dealt by police. We cannot be the first authority here. Does the Union of India need Supreme Court to tell it what powers it has under the Police Act?" CJI told Venugopal.

As the Attorney General said: "This is an extraordinary situation," the CJI shot back, "But why do you want us to tell what powers you have?"

 Now, Bhartiya Kisan Union Lokshakti's plea seeking removal of the remaining three members of the court-appointed four-member committee after the recusal of Bhartiya Kisan Union leader Bhupinder Singh Mann will also be taken up on Wednesday.

Maintaining that principles of natural justice would be violated if the panel members continued as they had already supported these laws, it had urged the court to select people who can do the job “on the basis of mutual harmony”.

Women from farmer families participate in ongoing protest against new farm laws at Ghazipur border in New Delhi on Monday. Tribune Photo: Manas Ranjan Bhui

Beside Mann, the other three members of the committee were Pramod Kumar Joshi (Director, South Asia international Food Policy), Agricultural Economist Ashok Gulati and Shetkari Sanghatana leader Anil Ghanwat.

They were mandated to talk to the agitating farmers on the Farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance & Farm Services Act 2020, Farmers Produce Trade & Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Act & Amendment to Essential Commodities Act and file a report before the court in two months. The committee is said to have decided to go ahead with its proceedings even after recusal of Mann.

Bhartiya Kisan Union Lokshakti had earlier written to the Delhi Police commisioner seeking permission to hold the farmers protests at Ramlila Maidan in the capital. CJI SA Bobde had on January 12 asked farmers' unions to write to Delhi Police for such permission.

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