- Bench noted that the expert committee has no adjudicatory powers over the farm laws
- Senior advocate Salve has threatened contempt action
TAD NewsDesk, New Delhi: The Chief Justice of India Sharad A Bobde has finally spoken on the concerns put forward by farmer unions and the media over the committee constituted to analyse the farm laws and its repercussions. The CJI has made strong statements against media reports bringing up issues with the members selected for the expert committee set up by the Supreme Court. A fuming Chief Justice of India Sharad A Bobde said that it has become “almost a cultural thing” to brand people and doubting the “brilliant minds” chosen to draft the report on the agriculture-related legislations is inappropriate.
“They (committee members) are brilliant minds in the field of agriculture… Branding of people whom you do not want, this has become almost like a cultural thing. You malign people’s reputation and then you say the court is interested in these people… I am sorry that this kind of opinions are appearing in the Press,” Bobde fumed.
Aiming to cover the opinions of farmer leaders, various social media and articles in newspapers had raised eyebrows over the court’s choice of members for the committee constituted on January 12. The mentioned articles had highlighted the apparent bias in the selection of members as most of them had earlier published opinions in favour of the farm laws. It was alleged that the members may have been cleverly handpicked in alignment with the government’s notion. As the credibility of the members was being questioned, one of the committee members, Bhupinder Singh Mann recused himself from the committee.
“You unthinkingly cast aspersions on people. Bhupinder Singh Mann had even asked for modifications of the laws, can you say he is in favour of the laws… Or is it that you do not want people to have opinions? Even the best judges have opinions, though he can give a judgment against his own personal opinions… Have you not found in the body-politic people expressing an opinion and changing them once informed?” asked the Chief Justice.
Further, the CJI has pointed out that the committee has no authority to adjudicate on the contentious laws saying that,
“We formed the committee only to hear the farmers’ grievances and submit a report to the court. They were given no adjudicatory powers. So, where is the question of bias here? If you don’t want to appear before the committee, don’t. But why cast aspersions on the court and brand people. We did not want to intervene, but we did only for the sake of the common people and the farmers”.
“We are adjudicating the dispute. Are we going to read newspapers and decide disputes? Public opinions cannot be used to determine court proceedings,” the CJI stated. However, it must be noted that the findings of the committee could play a deciding factor in shaping public opinion on the laws that have faced a lot of heat from the farmers.
Meanwhile, senior advocate Harish Salve said he would seek contempt action if future statements made in the media seem malignant towards the court or the committee members.
Towards the end, the Bench recorded the brief given to the committee in its order and decided to consider a plea made by Kisan Maha Panchayat, a farmers’ body from Rajasthan to fill the vacancy in the committee.
Source – The Hindu Business Line