Farmers’ protest: Supreme Court to hear case on January 18

The stated objective of the January 18 hearing is to address the Centre’s apprehension about protesters disrupting the Republic Day ceremonies.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the farmers’ protests case on Monday amid media reports that one of the four members of its expert committee, set up on January 12 to negotiate between the government and farmers, has recused himself.

Also Read | Farmers’ protest: Farmers to attend ninth round of talks with government without ‘much hope’

The case list on January 18 shows the court is to pass orders/directions on a plea by the government to injunct protesters from holding tractor/trolley/vehicle marches to “disrupt” the Republic Day celebrations on January 26.

There is also a change in the composition of judges on the Bench sitting on Monday. The Bench, though still headed by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde, would have Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Vineet Saran as puisne judges.

The Bench, on January 12, when it had stayed the implementation of the three farm laws causing the farmers’ stand-off and formed the committee, had Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian accompany the CJI.

It is to be seen whether the court on Monday would take note of the recusal of Bhupinder Singh Mann, National President, Bhartiya Kisan Union and All India Kisan Coordination Committee, from the expert panel. The committee is supposed to start work in 10 days and submit a report in two months. Its mission is to “listen to the grievances of the farmers on the farm laws and the views of the government and make recommendations”. The court had believed that the formation of the committee would “create a congenial atmosphere and improve the trust and confidence of the farmers”.

Comment | Mediating the farmers’ protests is difficult terrain

However, the stated objective of the Monday hearing is to address the Centre’s apprehension about protesters disrupting the Republic Day ceremonies.

‘Embarrassment to the nation’

“It has come to the knowledge of the security agencies through various sources that a small group of protesting individuals/organisations have planned to carry out a tractor/trolley/vehicle march on Republic Day. The proposed march is slated to disturb and disrupt the August celebrations of the nation on Republic Day and would be bound to create a massive law and order situation,” the government application has said.

It said such a protest would cause an “embarrassment to the nation”.

“The right to protest can never include maligning the nation globally,” the government has said.

Also Read | Farm Bills have potential to represent significant step forward for agriculture reforms in India: IMF

On January 12, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, for the Centre, had said there was no question of a huge group of people entering the city on Republic Day.

The court had also noted Mr. Venugopal’s “support” of a “specific averment” by the Indian Kisan Union that an organisation, Sikhs for Justice, banned for anti-India secessionist movement, is financing the agitation.

Mr. Venugopal had orally remarked in the hearing that there were reports that “Khalistanis” had infiltrated the protests.

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