25 Sep 2023 1:13 PM GMT
Today, a Division Bench of the Supreme Court, dismissed a writ petition filed by farmers’ group ‘Kisan Mahapanchayat’ which had approached the Court, in the year 2021, seeking permission to hold satyagraha at Jantar Mantar in the national capital to protest against the now repealed farm laws. The Court has, however, granted the liberty to the farmers’ group to approach the Delhi...
Today, a Division Bench of the Supreme Court, dismissed a writ petition filed by farmers’ group ‘Kisan Mahapanchayat’ which had approached the Court, in the year 2021, seeking permission to hold satyagraha at Jantar Mantar in the national capital to protest against the now repealed farm laws. The Court has, however, granted the liberty to the farmers’ group to approach the Delhi High Court.
The Kisan Mahapanchayat is a body of agricultural community and farmers. It may be recalled that this petition was filed in the backdrop of farmers’ protest across the country against the three controversial farm laws passed by the Parliament in 2020.
It may be recalled that in October 2021, while considering the matter, the Supreme Court had framed a question of law for consideration - whether a party who has approached the Court can claim the right to hold public protests in respect of the same subject matter. A bench led by Justice AM Khanwilkar (since retired) had sought the response of the Attorney General for India on the issue.
The Bench which heard the matter today comprised Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia.
When the matter was taken up, Justice Dhulia asked the petitioner, “Hasn’t it become infructuous?”, seemingly referring to the fact that the farm laws were repealed by the Parliament in December 2021.
The counsel, appearing for the petitioner, replied in negative and submitted “We are seeking to protest at Jantar Mantar”
Justice Kaul inquired “All that is over, what is the protest about?”
However, the counsel argued “Our issues were not addressed”
Justice Dhulia: “You are asking that permission be given to you to hold satyagraha at Jantar Mantar?... why? all this is over isn’t?”
At this, the counsel averred that petitioner’s demand is that the government should enact a law for prescribing the minimum support price.
Justice Dhulia pointed out that this is nowhere mentioned in the prayer and it only mentions about satyagraha.
Justice Kaul: “You want 200 farmers to protest there because you have some other claims also?”
The Bench further told the counsel that they cannot issue directions for the enactment of law. Nevertheless, the counsel tried convincing the Bench that prayer before the Court is to grant permission for the said protest. However, the Bench, not being satisfied with the arguments, dismissed the writ petition while giving liberty to the petitioner to file the same before the Delhi High Court. The Court recorded:
"The issue was possibly live at some stage when this writ petition was filed. Ld. counsel for the petitioner submits that the petitioner still wants to protest for some issue that has not been addressed and the Delhi police should make arrangements. That be the position, the petitioner should make specific pleadings before the Delhi High Court rather than us entertaining the petition under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution"
Case Title: Kisan Mahapanchayat Vs. Union of India, W.P.(C) No. 854/2021