India's top court orders stay on new farm laws that riled growers

Published January 12, 2021
In this file photo, farmers listen to a speaker during a protest against the newly passed farm bills at Singhu border near New Delhi, India on December 9. — Reuters
In this file photo, farmers listen to a speaker during a protest against the newly passed farm bills at Singhu border near New Delhi, India on December 9. — Reuters

India’s Supreme Court ordered an indefinite stay on Tuesday over the implementation of new agricultural laws that have triggered widespread protests from farmers, saying it would set up a panel to hear their objections.

For more than a month, tens of thousands of farmers have camped on the outskirts of New Delhi, the capital, to protest against reform measures that they say benefit large private buyers and harm growers.

Chief Justice Sharad Bobde said during a hearing that the Supreme Court would establish a panel to hear the farmers’ grievances.

“We have the power to make a committee and the committee can give us the report,” he said, ordering the stay for an undisclosed period on the laws passed in September.

“We will protect farmers.”

There were no immediate further details.

Read: Why are Indian farmers protesting, and what can Modi do?

India says the laws aim to modernise an antiquated farming system, bedevilled by wastage and bottlenecks in the supply chain.

But farm leaders demand repeal of the laws, which they say are an attempt to erode a longstanding mechanism that ensures farmers a minimum support price for their crops.

The government has said there was no question of such a rollback, and eight rounds of talks have failed to find common ground. The two sides are set to meet next on Friday.

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