NEW DELHI – India’s top court on Tuesday temporarily put on hold the implementation of agricultural reform laws and ordered the creation of an independent committee of experts to negotiate with farmers who have been protesting against the legislation.
The Supreme Court's ruling came a day after it heard petitions filed by the farmers challenging the legislation. It said the laws were passed without enough consultation, and that it was disappointed with the way talks were proceeding between representatives of the government and farmers.
Tens of thousands of farmers protesting against the legislation have been blocking half a dozen major highways on the outskirts of New Delhi for more than 45 days. Farmers say they won’t leave until the government repeals the laws.
They say the legislation passed by Parliament in September will lead to the cartelization and commercialization of agriculture, make farmers vulnerable to corporate greed and devastate their earnings.
The government insists the laws will benefit farmers and enable them to market their produce and boost production through private investment.
Chief Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde said the independent committee of four experts would “amicably resolve” the standoff between the farmers and the government.
The court, however, did not provide details as to how it selected the committee experts.
Farmer unions rejected the idea of an expert committee and said all four members have publicly favored the contentious legislation. They reiterated their demand for the total repeal of the laws.