Business & Economy

Supreme Court suspends laws that led to farmers protests in India

New Delhi, Jan 12 (efe-epa).- The Supreme Court of India ordered Tuesday the suspension, until further notice, of three laws for liberalizing the agricultural sector that had caused protests by thousands of farmers outside the borders of New Delhi for more than a month.

“We are going to suspend the implementation of the three farm laws until further orders,” the apex court said, adding that it would constitute a committee to review the content of the concerned laws.

The supreme court decision comes in the wake of weeks of failed negotiations between the protesters – who have been demanding a repeal of the so called “anti-farmer” laws – and the government, which had urged the courts to declare the protest illegal, given that it has blocked several entry points to the capital since Nov. 26.

The purpose of the committee, which will be made up of agricultural experts, will be to resolve the differences concerning the laws, listen to the parties involved, and to provide guidance to judges on a final decision.

The farmers’ representatives welcomed the decision, but underlined that this would not stop them from continuing with their demands.

“We welcome the suspension but that is not what we have sought, so our movement will continue,” said Yogendra Yadav, one of the leaders of the farm unions, said at a press conference, adding that the laws have only been “temporarily suspended. Our demand is for their rollback.”

Yadav said that although they are not opposed to the court’s proposal, they will not take part in the committee, but will continue talks with the government in the next round of discussions on Friday.

The three laws that led to the protests seek to open up trade in agriculture to the free market, and allegedly abolish minimum selling prices with time, leaving farmers to negotiate prices of their produce with private firms in the distribution chain.

The laws also provide for contract farming, so the peasants and buyers can draw up a written agreement for the sale even before the planting of crops.

The government has defended the reforms by stressing that these measures will allow farmers to negotiate on their own terms, but the peasants claim it will leave them helpless and at the mercy of large firms.

Although the government has said it is willing to review those parts of the laws that farmers do not agree with, the latter have refused to settle for anything but a repeal of the laws. EFE-EPA


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