I am flattered by the Court bringing up my name – but this of course becomes an issue when and if the government actually approaches me on the subject.
If that happens, I would want to know how the government understands the rationale for such a panel: what is its mandate, what will it actually look at, what is to be its composition – will it be truly representative, what is its status (is the government bound by its findings)?
I would not want to be part of a death By committee.
The operative part of the APMC or the farm contracts laws – especially the OPERATIVE part – is barely four pages long. When the government says it is willing to make amendments to 12 of the 14 or 15 points of criticism the farmers have levelled against them, it is accepting how seriously flawed these laws are. It seems pointless to amend 80-90 percent of such fatally flawed documents (which many, including serious legal minds, are calling unconstitutional). These are sweeping bits of legislation by the Centre on what is, according to the Constitution, a state subject. Can you amend unconstitutional laws – no, you withdraw them. The greatest panel ever set up on farming, the one that produced the closest thing to a blueprint for Indian agriculture for coming decades was the Swaminathan Commission (or more accurately, the National Commission on Farmers) report. The kind of expertise, talent and understanding that the panel had remains unrivalled. It worked for years- in thorough
researching and in wide and massive consultations. And yet its reports lie untouched and undiscussed in Parliament for 16 years. It would be an excellent step if the Court advises the government to have that report discussed in Parliament and set up a panel to oversee its speedy implementation.
Since 2018, some of us have been lamenting that the crisis has gone way beyond the agrarian and has run berserk. We need a Special session of parliament to discuss the agrarian crisis and related issues. I believe that the need for this is greater now than ever before. Also, note that the farmers of this country too have been calling for a special session. If that happens, I believe India should inaugurate a practice in our parliament that is quite common in the legislatures of some democracies – a system of public hearings. Let those who have suffered the crisis most also speak for themselves on the floor of parliament in such public hearings.
I believe that the farmers are absolutely right in calling for the repeal of these three laws. Some of us have cared to give them a hearing. Going forward, if such a situation of my being invited to any such panel actually arises, I would listen to them again and then decide.