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SC setting up independent panel to take call on farm laws, lets protests go on for now

SC setting up independent panel to take call on farm laws, lets protests go on for now

The Supreme Court on Thursday decided to set up a committee of "independent members with knowledge of agriculture which will hear both sides and give a report on what is to be done" about the new farm laws that have led to the massive protest by farmers on the borders of Delhi.

Meanwhile, the "protests can continue without violence and the police will not do anything (to crack down on protesters)," Chief Justice Bobde said.

The court said it would refer the matter to a vacation bench and suggested that the government not take any action to implement the law till the court takes a final decision on the issue.

"We make it clear that we recognise the fundamental right to protest against a law. There is no question of balancing or curtailing it. But it should not damage anyone's life or property," the Chief Justice said.

“A protest is constitutional till it does not destroy property or endanger life. The Centre and farmers have to talk. We are thinking of an impartial and independent committee before whom both parties can give their side of the story,” the Chief Justice said.

At the same time the court told the farmers union, “You have a right to protest. We are not going to interfere. You carry on protests. Your protest has a purpose, and that must be fulfilled by talking to someone. You simply cannot sit on protest for years."

"We are with the plight of farmers and sympathetic to their cause. But you have to alter the way it is going. You have to convince and bring out the solution," the Chief Justice told the representatives of the Bharatiya Kisan Union who were present in court.

The apex court was hearing a bunch of petitions for and against the protest, said it would not take a call on the validity of the contentious farm laws that have triggered the farmers agitation which entered the 23rd day on Thursday.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, who was representing one of the petitioners, said "Protests cannot be just for protest, but to articulate point of view," the court said, "That is exactly what we mean".

"Protest's purpose must be fulfilled by non-violent means. Protests must be about issues. Aggrieved parties must be allowed to articulate and the party that caused the problem must be allowed to answer," the Chief Justice said..