Agriculture Ministry’s Claim on Farm Bill 'Consultations' Runs Contrary to its RTI Reply -Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar
The Centre claimed in the Supreme Court that efforts had been made to speak to stakeholders before the laws were passed. Why, then, does the agricultural ministry have no record of these efforts?
New Delhi: In an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court on Monday, the Centre claimed that “serious, sincere and constructive efforts [were] made by the Central Government to engage with the limited number of protesting farmers who are opposing the Act”. However, recent Right to Information replies by the Ministry of Agriculture reveal that it possesses no records of any such consultations with various stakeholders, especially farmers’ unions.
RTI query asked for details of pre-legislative consultations
In an RTI query filed with the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare on December 11, 2020, activist Anjali Bhardwaj had sought information on the process of consultation, if any, followed before the passage of the farm Bills.
Stating that “as per the decision taken in the meeting of the taken in the meeting of the Committee of Secretaries (CoS) held on January 10, 2014 regarding the Pre-legislative Consultation Policy (PLCP), every department/ ministry is required to proactively place in the public domain all proposed legislations for a minimum period of thirty days,” the application asked for “information (indicating the exact website address) where the following were proactively made available” in connection with the ordinances and acts in question.
The query sought information regarding the “Farmer Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2000; the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020. It also asked for similar information with respect to the three corresponding Acts that were brought in 2020.
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TheWire.in, 12 January, 2021, https://thewire.in/government/farm-laws-consultation-rti-agriculture-ministry