The country’s democracy is going haywire and we, the citizens, are witnessing it first hand. The feeders of the country are being forced to sleep empty stomached on roads in the national capital’s freezing temperature and unannounced rains. Farmers from across the country, putting on stake their safety, family and livelihood, have been protesting for more than 40 days and we’re too afraid to even talk about it. Wait, afraid or ignorant? Well, the national media, that has hereby called them names including terrorists, anti-national and conspiracy creators, and has since refused to cover their side of the story, would be able to answer this question better.
The journey that began with the debate on whether the contentious farm bills would be for the better or worse of farmers ended with these bills being passed in the Rajya Sabha in a stooping low level of democracy. I’m not sure if it would still be fair to call it a democracy after the way these bills became laws. Be it suspension of 8 MPs over farm bills or the bills being passed by a voice note despite the opposition’s continuous demand for a division i.e. recorded vote since the leading government wouldn’t have been able to win in that manner, nothing about this conduct of parliament was acceptable. The ruling government’s continuous effort to not let the farm bills become subject to deeper levels of scrutiny and consultation itself is a representation of the nature of the laws.
However, if you think that this section here is to discuss the good or bad of the farm laws, it isn’t. Because the time to discuss this is gone long ago. Irrespective of the nature and purpose of the new farm laws, there are people out there, on the roads, begging the government to listen to their pleas. The same people who were showered with water cannons, attacked with tear gas cylinders and stopped with shockingly high police personnel are still sitting, silently waiting, just to be heard. So if you think we should still discuss if the laws are for the good, it is imperative for you to change your mind-set. It is more than reason enough for the government to listen to what a huge majority of people have to stay and start taking action on it.
But what if the government seems indifferent to all the protests? What if the media keeps refusing to telecast the farmer’s plight? What if all those old, hard-working feeders get are inconclusive meetings and delayed results? Because this is all that we can see happening in our country right now. No matter how loud we shout at social media and how hard we try to make the world see what is happening to our democracy, the ruling government seems unbothered by it all. To give weightage to my statements, recall the incidents of the authorities trying to convert the farmer fight against the unlawful regime into a religious one, or that of planting fake farmers to imply how farmers are in support of the laws and a few are running agendas or that of calling this farmer revolution an opposition’s disinformation tactic. How easy is it for the government in this country to run from accountability? And since national media isn’t really doing its job, we can least expect it to force the government into accountability.
In such a case, who would call the government’s handling of the protests amidst the pandemic irresponsible and lethargic?
Well, looks like the Supreme court would. In a recent conversation that happened between the government’s representative attorney general and the Chief Justice of India, S.A. Bobde expressed how disappointing the government’s handling of the farmer agitation and negotiation process has been. The central government’s indifference to the farmer protests have worsened the situation and the Supreme court is ready to ask some tough questions to the central government about it. Questioning why withholding the implementation of farms laws despite such a vast revolution amidst a pandemic is such a vast issue for the union government, the Supreme court has decided to step in to stay the implementation of farm laws. This came in after the court addressed how the condition of farmers has worsened in the past days, with the pandemic norms being loosened and nobody taking care of the protestors’ food and shelter.
Showing the centre what accountability looks like, Supreme court, in its said conversation expressed how each one of them, including the court and the government, would be responsible if anything wrong happens and situation worsens. The chief justice made it abundantly clear that the government’s irresponsible decision making with respect to the farmer’s protests makes it tough for the court to analyse if the central government is a part of the solution or the problem itself.
Uncovering the nature of the problem, Centre has decided to step in to arrive at a cordial resolution to the issue. The court, after realising that the central government seeks time for negotiations, asked the government to display some sense of responsibility by withholding the implementation of laws for now. The court proposed to pass an order to facilitate the solution to farm laws’ problem by forming an expert committee appointed by the court. It also hinted that it would urge the farmers to take negotiations more seriously and form a representative committee.
The expert committee to be set by the supreme court was formed after suggestions from the farmers’ unions and the centre about the formers CJIs who could head the committee.
A report would be generated by this expert committee after taking into consideration arguments from both sides and till then, the implementation of these laws is put on hold.
Giving us hope of an unfair trial and serious intervention, Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, after being told by the centre’s representative that some farmer associations and a ‘vast majority’ are in support of the farm laws, said that no one pleaded before the bench to extend their support for the farm laws and saying that the laws were beneficial. He asked the solicitor to let that ‘vast majority’ come to the committee and say they want the laws.
Even though we can’t promise a bright result, we can at least hope for an unbiased trial and a fair solution to the problem.