In first legal challenge, Congress MP from Kerala moves SC against validity of farm Acts
Implementation of the Act will spell disaster for farming community by opening a parallel market which is unregulated and gives enough room for exploitation of the farmers’ community, the plea says
A Congress Member of Parliament from Kerala has moved the Supreme Court challenging the validity of the farm Acts that recently received Presidential assent after being passed in Parliament amidst a furore, legal news website Barandbench.com has reported.
MP from Thrissur TN Prathapan has moved the Supreme Court in what is possibly the first challenge to the validity of the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance, and Farm Services Act, 2020.
Prathapan seeks a declaration of the provisions of the Agreement on Price and the Farm Services Act, along with the related notifications, as illegal, unconstitutional, and void. The petition mounts the challenge on the grounds that these pieces of legislation are violative of Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution of India and accordingly "liable to be struck down as unconstitutional, illegal and void."
It is contended that the Bills were passed hastily by Parliament, with not enough or adequate discussion on them.
"A bare reading of its provisions will reveal that it is not a progressive piece of legislation," the petition submits.
It is added that opening of unregulated parallel markets, which is be enabled by these legislations, would lead to the exploitation of farmers.
The plea states, "...the implementation of the act in its current form will spell disaster for the farming community by opening a parallel market which is unregulated and gives enough room for exploitation of the farmers’ community by concentration of power in the hands of a few corporates/individuals, multinationals and moneylenders thus working against the very object it was seemingly created for."
Some of the provisions in these legislations would put the farming community in a position of receiving little redressal in case of disputes. The new law provides for redressal from the Sub-Divisional Magistrate - who is in essence part of the "overburdened bureaucracy" - rather than from a court of law.
Significantly, the petitioner also prays for a direction for the setting up of a tribunal to redress the grievances pertaining to farmers' issues in a manner similar to the tribunals that are set up under the Industrial Disputes Act, Consumer Protection Act, Labour Laws, etc.
Another concern raised is the possibility of exporters, traders and middlemen using the law to their benefit by regulating and controlling the price through means such as hoarding and creation of artificial demand. These contingencies, if arisen, would be highly detrimental to the interests of farmers as well as consumers, the plea states.
Moreover, the provisions of these legislations put farmers in a position of vulnerability and make them open to unchecked exploitation as they are "unaware of even their basic rights", the petition states.
It adds that the provisions under challenge are also in violation of the Directive Principles enshrined in Chapter IV of the Constitution.
The tabling of these farm Bills during the Monsoon Session of Parliament had led to a huge ruckus, with the Opposition registering fierce resistance to their passage. However, the Bills stood passed through a voice vote in the Rajya Sabha and have now also received the President's assent amid nationwide agitation among the farmers' community.