By Arun Srivastava
What will Supreme Court do now as the agitating farmers have outright refused to acknowledge the existence of the four-men committee set up by it to find a way out to the present impasse? Will the court pass an order making it obligatory for the farmers to accept the findings of the Committee? These are some of the questions that have been haunting the lakhs of farmers who are resorting to non-violent Gandhian Satyagraha at the Delhi border.
In the backdrop of the apex court’s order, the farmers recall the tactics used by the upper caste landlords of Bihar and UP to terrorise the villagers. The landlords often instigate their sons or relatives to insult the old and respected persons but in public chid their aids for indulging in this game. It serves both the purposes, while they warned the person and at the same time presented their human face. By accepting the apex court’s order, the Modi government was resorting to same tactics.
After the Supreme Court stepped in and started hearing the farm law case, notwithstanding the farmers not requesting it to intervene, an impression was created that it would uphold the legal points raised by them and eventually fulfil the objective of the agitation, but it did not happen. The order of the apex court has completely shattered the farmers and finally they have come to repose their trust in the Gandhian model of Satyagrah for forcing the government to agree to repeal the three black laws. The court should have looked into the constitutional legality of the farm laws.
From the beginning the farmers were sceptical of any fruitful solution. They were not sure that the apex court will help them. Basically this was the reason that they were averse to approaching the apex court. . Since the common people have been looking at the judiciary with suspicion it was expected of the apex court that it should maintain highest order of transparency in appointing the committee. It would have helped restore the trust of the people in the judicial system.
The farmers were demanding complete repeal of the three laws. But the apex court simply put the laws on hold and constituted a committee to examine them. This action of judiciary indeed has come as a major shock to the farmers. The manner in which the committee was constituted further deepened the level of distrust. All the four members of the committee H S Mann, Pramod Kumar Joshi, Ashok Gulati and Anil Dhanwant are known as either Modi loyalists or supporters of the farm bills. Two of them have written in newspapers supporting the laws. In this backdrop only a naïve and fool can expect an independent review.
A day ahead of the verdict the CJI had dropped the hint that persons like P Sainath would be members and the committee would be headed by a retired CJI. In case Justice Lodha refused to head the committee the court could have assigned this task to some other judge. It appears the court accepted the names given by the government. India has a large number of excellent agriculture economists. But none were preferred to by the government. This manifests the mind set and determination of the government.
It is really dreadful that Modi government has been pushing the country to the brink of civil war. Since the farmers have decided to continue with the agitation, the government will resort to legal and administrative measures to evict them. It has already prepared the ground for armed action by alleging that the protesters were being instigated by Naxalites and Khalistanis. Now armed with the apex court directive, it would launch a vicious tirade against the farmers. Interestingly the court has asked the government to file a petition. Obviously it implied that the government canard will acquire legal sanctity. The government has moved ahead in its design to malign and break the agitation.
Apprehensions are being expressed that this would trigger a national crisis, a situation that will widen the conflict between the rich and the poor. The farmers who will be turned beggars and paupers. Said a farmer leader; “We have to understand the nature of the threat first; it is not about legality, it is about life.” The government ought to realise that strong arm tactics is sure to backfire.
The latest verdict of the apex court would witness breaking down of the rule of governance and democratic functioning. The rulers riding on the verdict of 2019 will turn more arrogant. The apex court must understand that farmers need the clarity of law, the constitutional protection, under which their right to make demand is respected and heard through a political process. It must dispel the notion of mistrust. It must live upto the expectation of the common people, the fountain of trust. It is really interesting to watch the government telling the farmers to honour the Supreme Court’s ruling
Just after the Supreme Court announced the formation of review committee, a singer took the stage at the Singhu border; “Dilli-ye, O Dilli-ye, Punjab de sadke, tu itihas sadda bhulli baithi hain (Delhi, Oh Delhi, you have forgotten Punjab’s glorious history of sacrifice). Assi desh nu bachaya assi chadke, ladke, ladke. (We have risen many times to save the country, by fighting, fighting…),” he sang, from the dais of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee Punjab.
This year’s Republic Day may witness unprecedented public revolt with the farmers determined to take out Tractor Parade on the streets of Delhi. The government has very little time left for vacillation. (IPA Service)