Author: Sakshi Devi, IV year of B.A., LL.B. from Army Institute of law
“ Jai Jawan Jai kisaan”
- LalBahadurShastri, second prime minister of India
Recently there have been a lot of agitation on-farm laws in the country by farmers against farm laws that have been enacted by the BJP government in 2020. Despite there being a lot of agitation against these laws by leaders of the opposition party, leaders of the farmer union, the bills were passed. However, a lot of people were against bringing these laws, there were many people in support of these laws as well.
There are three farm bills passed namely, The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
INTERPRETATION OF STATUTES
Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020
The Act provided for contract farming wherein there will be a written agreement between farmer and person who wants to buy produce of farming. All the infrastructure for producing that particular crop is to be provided by the buyer itself
MINIMUM PERIOD FOR AGREEMENT: However, the agreement which is to be entered between the buyer and the farmer should be for one crop season
MAXIMUM PERIOD FOR AGREEMENT: The maximum period up to which a contact can be entered into shall be for 5 years. The period can even be more than 5 years if both buyer and farmer agree for the same.
PRICE TO BE PAID BY BUYER: Whatever price is to be paid for the farming produce has to be decided in the agreement itself.
AUTHORITY TO APPROACH IN CASE OF DISPUTE: In case any dispute arises regarding the contract that has been entered into, there is no right to approach court the dispute is first to be referred to conciliation board and if there is no outcome it will then be referred to Sub-divisional magistrate and after him, the final authority is the collector.
Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020
Till now farmers were having an option of selling their agricultural produce in Agricultural Produce Market Committee at their own locality only but this Act made provisions for them to sell their products outside their locality as well thus creating the concept of one nation one market.
TRADING OUTSIDE APMC: Through this Act, the bar in existence earlier that there can be no trade outside APMC was removed. Now the farmers can sell their products in factories and cold storages.
ABOLITION OF CESS ETC: The Act made provision for the abolition of any kind of market fees and cess on products of agriculture that has to be sold by the farmer.
ESSENTIAL COMMODITIES (AMENDMENT) ACT, 2020: The Act was enacted to prevent hoarding and certain commodities were labelled as essential commodities hoarding of which was prohibited as per the provisions of the Act. However, now the amendment has been made in the Act pulses, onions, oils cereals etc have been removed from the category of essential commodities. Thus, the hoarding of all of these is no longer regulated. The provision has been made that the government will intervene only If there is a 100% increase in the price of horticulture products and a 50% increase in the price of non-perishable goods.
LOOPHOLES IN THE LAWS: REASONS FOR PROTESTS BY FARMERS
The Act has allowed farmers to sell outside APMC because all the farmers will start selling outside APMC thus making them redundant. Thus when Mandisa Will no longer be operational farmers will be forced to sell to corporate companies at price settled by them thus will lead to the exploitation of farmer.
Because of the abolition of APMC, there will be no facility of Minimum support price provided to the farmers
Even though provisions have been made for selling agricultural produce outside APMC of the locality of the farmer, it will be of no use for small farmers because they barely have any mode of transportation for taking their produce outside the area.
Another provision has been made that in case of contract farming is that anyone having pan card can enter into a contract with the farmer, this may lead to fraud, for example, If a person who doesn’t even want the products enter into the contract and later on denies to buy it from the farmer, this will lead to loss to the farmer.
As per Farmers ( Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on price assistance Act, 2020, In case of contract farming, the farmer is not responsible for returning the infrastructure provided by the buyer, it is up to the buyer to take it back and in case of buyers doesn’t take it back and he has taken a loan for that particular infrastructure provided, the burden will then shift to the farmer to pay for that loan and in case he is unable to pay same will be recovered from his land resulting in loss of land of the Farmer.
Earlier when farmers used to sell their products in APMC there were agents known as Arthias who used to introduce these farmers to the retailers, this will have an impact on them as well. On the other hand, agents will be required in case a buyer is seeking a farmer or vice versa In case of contract farming and there will be more scope of middleman having more benefit.
CHAIN OF EVENTS OF FARMERS PROTEST
June 6: A after the farm ordinance was first tabled in union parliament, farmers have shown their objection for the same.
June 14-30: It is actually during this period when farmers started protesting actually in their terraces or public places. Objections were raised by Bharatiya Kisan union against the ordinances
July 14: The state government had issued orders for not assembling in large numbers amidst covid-19 pandemic, therefore on July 14 there were protests against the same.
July 20: 11 farmers union came together and they burned the effigies of Shiromani Akali Dal- Bharatiya Janata Party alliance in many villages of Punjab.
July 27: Tractor March was organised by the farmers union jointly.
September 9: for violation of sec 144 which have been imposed, an FIR was filed against the farmers, so there were protests by farmers against the same.
November 5: Chakka jam was organised by farmers in the entire nation.
November 25: Delhi Chalo movement was initiated in Punjab and Haryana by farmers' union.
November 27: After a lot of hurdles Farmers were allowed to enter the border of Delhi.
October 8: Government had given an option to farmers that they will be detailed about the laws and the benefits of these laws to farmers which was rejected by them.
January 12: Supreme Court stayed the implementation of farm laws.
January 26: Farmers organised tractor rally in Delhi.
The protests against these laws are in continuation even now in the shivering cold even then the laws have not been repealed by the government.
ACTIONS TAKEN BY GOVERNMENT AGAIN PROTESTING FARMERS
At the first instance, Farmers who marched to Delhi to protest there were stopped by Delhi police, barricades were installed in all the borders of Delhi, however, strong will our Annadata Somehow managed to reach Delhi on November 27 and they have been protesting there since then even though the right to protest peacefully has been enshrined as a fundamental right under the constitution of India. Moreover, police started lathi-charge and also fired tear gas against the farmers protesting. The government was trying to suppress these farmers from Violating their fundamental right to protest. Despite all these hurdles, farmers continued their protest against these laws.
Farmers not only from the state of Punjab but also from other states such as Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Uttrakhand, Maharashtra, Kerala etc. are also protesting.
OPINION: I strongly am against the farms laws for various reasons
As the loopholes already have mentioned above are more than the benefits which will be provided to the farmers by these laws.
Schedule 7 of Indian constitution talks about 3 lists namely, union list state list, concurrent list and agriculture comes under the state list. Thus, only the State government has the right to legislate on matters relating to agriculture. Thus, laws passed by the government are completely ultra-vires.
Moreover, In Democratic country like India which is the largest democracy in the world, every citizen has the right to protest peacefully.