Its time for PM Modi to rethink and reinvent his style of functioning
Monday – January 11 – is a bad day for Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Central Government. The apex court has slapped the Government in the controversial farm law cases and told point-blank to the Attorney General (AG) K K Venugopal – “don’t preach”. The apex court’s bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde will pronounce order on Tuesday, directing Centre not to implement the controversial three farm laws and forming a committee of experts to negotiate with government and agitating farmer unions.
The Supreme Court questioned Modi led Government’s vehement opposition to its suggestion that the implementation of three new farm laws is held back for the time being so as to help find an amicable solution to the ongoing farmers’ protest against them at Delhi borders. While rapping the Centre for its handling of farmers’ protest against the new laws, the apex court said that either the implementation of these statutes be held back or the top court itself will proceed to do so on the recommendation of a court-appointed committee which is to be constituted.
The Supreme Court was hearing a clutch of pleas challenging the new farm laws as well as the ones raising issues related to the ongoing agitation at Delhi borders.
“We don’t see why there is an insistence on implementation of the law,” a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde said, adding, “We are not experts on the economy and you (Centre) tell us whether you are going to hold on these laws or we will do this”. Attorney General K K Venugopal told the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, that a law cannot be stayed unless the court finds it violates fundamental rights or constitutional schemes.
The bench observed, “We are doing this because you have failed to solve the problem. The Union of India has to take the responsibility. The laws have resulted into a strike and now you have to solve the strike”. The top court said it may stay the implementation of these laws as talks between the Government and farmers are “breaking down” because the Centre wants to discuss these legislations point by point, while the farmers want them to be repealed.
When the Attorney General said that laws cannot be stayed in such manner, the bench said, “We are at this position. We are sorry to say that you have not been able to solve this problem. You as the Union of India has failed to solve the problem and the agitation.” The bench referred to the apex court’s last year order staying the implementation of 2018 Maharashtra law granting reservation to Marathas in education and jobs.
The Supreme Court was hearing a clutch of pleas challenging the new farm laws as well as the ones raising issues related to the ongoing agitation at Delhi borders. The eighth round of talks between the Centre and the farmer unions on January 7 headed nowhere as the Centre ruled out repealing the contentious laws, while the farmers’ leaders said they are ready to fight till death and their ‘Ghar Waapsi’ will happen only after ‘Law Waapsi’.
What led the Modi Government to rush these bills? First, it passed an Ordinance in June 2020, when the entire country was in Lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic.
The apex court had earlier issued notice and sought the Centre’s response on a batch of pleas against the three contentious farm laws — the Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act.
What was the rush?
What led the Modi Government to rush these bills? First, it passed an Ordinance in June 2020, when the entire country was in Lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic. Then it bulldozed these Ordinances as Laws when parliament was convened in September in a controversial manner. The Government rejected sending these bills to the Standing Committee for debates and talks with stakeholders. Within days of passing of these three bills, we have seen Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Retail offload 10 percent of its stake of more than Rs.45,000 crores to several multinational firms. For the past 50 days, the farmers are protesting in Delhi’s cold winter and Narendra Modi has been defensive on this topic in his speeches. And his loyalists started abusing the farmers calling them names.
In short – It is time for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to rethink and reinvent his style of functioning and start talking to all, including his opponents, which he was once advised by former President Pranab Mukherjee. ‘My Way or the Highway’ is not advisable in a democratic country. The Supreme Court on Monday clearly reminded the Prime Minister of this.