Out of court

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published Published on Jan 13, 2021   modified Modified on Jan 13, 2021

-The Indian Express

Supreme Court's attempt to resolve government-farmer problem over new laws creates problems of its own

Forty-eight days of protest and eight rounds of Centre-farmers talks later, the Supreme Court has stepped in, and with all due respect, has overstepped the line. It has taken into its hands a political problem that was, that still is, the government’s to negotiate and resolve. The apex court’s interim order on Tuesday — staying implementation of the Centre’s farm laws, and setting up an expert committee that will ostensibly listen to grievances of protesting farmers and views of government and frame recommendations — may be well-intentioned. But it sets a dubious precedent. One, by pronouncing not on the constitutionality of the law, but on its setting and specifically the protests against it, the court is encroaching into territory beyond its remit. Two, it is showing a clear double standard. Over the past few years, the SC has shown a marked lack of urgency and, in fact, distressing inattention to cases that have involved important constitutional questions and lined up at its door. Be it the constitutionality of electoral bonds or of the discriminatory amendments to the citizenship act, the court has kicked the can down the road. In many cases, by delaying and by turning away, it has allowed a fait accompli, created a new fact on the ground, and in effect, wrought a denial of justice. Now, its alacrity in taking into its own hands the ongoing impasse between government and farmers on the three farm laws, and its enthusiasm in playing arbiter, therefore, raises questions.

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The Indian Express, 13 January, 2021, https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/editorials/supreme-court-stay-farm-laws-protests-7143858/

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