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Peculiar lack of understanding of panels’ formation: CJI

Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad A. Bobde on Tuesday orally observed during a hearing that there was a “peculiar lack of comprehension” of the constitution of committees.

The CJI said a person’s views earlier about a subject did not disqualify him from being a part of a committee formed to examine a particular issue. An expression of views by a person on a subject did not mean bias.

“There is some confusion in understanding the law. One person may have an opinion before being a part of the committee but his opinion can change...There is no way that such a member cannot be part of a committee,” he stated.

The oral remarks came even as social media was rife with criticism about the court’s choice of members of the expert committee it set up on January 12 to negotiate between farmers protesting the agri-marketing laws and the government.

There was criticism in the social media that these members had supported the farm laws. One the four members, Bhupinder Singh Mann, National President, Bhartiya Kisan Union and All India Kisan Coordination Committee, had recused himself from the committee, which has to commence talks between the agitating farmers and the government and submit a report to the court within two months.

The CJI, however, did not refer to the controversy surrounding this particular committee during the hearing. His remarks came when senior advocate Siddarth Luthra, who was tapped by the court to act as amicus curiae in a case concerning physical court hearings in the Delhi High Court, notified the court that his earlier opinion in favour of virtual court conferences, were already on record.

“Just because a person has expressed a view on the matter, that is not a disqualification to be a member of committee. Generally, there is a peculiar lack of comprehension about constitution of a committee. They are not judges,” Chief Justice Bobde said.

‘Court’s intervention misunderstood’

On Monday too, during a hearing, he said how the apex court’s intervention had been misunderstood.

The other three members of the expert committee in the farmers’ case are Dr. Parmod Kumar Joshi, agricultural economist, Director for South Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute; Ashok Gulati, agricultural economist and former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices; and Anil Ghanwat, president, Shetkari Sanghatana.

While staying the implementation of the three farm laws on January 12, the court explained that both the government and the protesting farmers should take its effort to form a committee in the “right spirit” and consider it an attempt to reach a “fair, equitable and just solution to problems”.

“There is no power on earth which can prevent us from forming the independent committee. We want to solve the problem. We want to understand the ground situation. This is not politics. You have to cooperate,” Chief Justice Bobde told the farmers’ side on January 12.

The three farm laws are The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act.

The court is scheduled to hear on January 20 a plea by the Central government to pass an injunction order against farmers holding tractor, trolley vehicles rallies to “disrupt” Republic Day celebrations.

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 12:47:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/peculiar-lack-of-understanding-of-panels-formation-cji/article33609477.ece

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