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Show us provision which says farmers won’t get MSP, SC asks MP Prathapan

A view of the Supreme Court of India. File | Photo Credit: Shanker Chakravarty
Legal Correspondent NEW DELHI 28 January 2021 17:22 IST
Updated: 28 January 2021 22:28 IST

It asks Centre to respond to petition, tags it with other pleas challenging farm laws.

The Supreme Court on Thursday challenged Congress MP from Kerala, T.N. Prathapan, to pick out the specific provision in the new agriculture laws which says farmers will not get Minimum Support Price (MSP) for their products.

A three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice Sharad A. Bobde questioned the MP after the latter’s lawyer submitted that “without MSP, farmers cannot survive”. Mr. Prathapan, in his petition, said the law opens the door for “corporate greed of multi-national companies” to trample on agriculture market.

“So you want the old regime to continue... Show us the provision which withdraws MSP,” Chief Justice Bobde asked the parliamentarian’s lawyer.

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The court finally asked the Centre to respond to the petition and tagged it with other pleas challenging the farm laws.

In his petition, Mr. Prathapan contended that the laws were merely a ruse to subvert the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) system.

“Without the APMC acting as a protective shield around the farmers, the market would ultimately fall to the corporate greed of multinational companies who are more profit oriented and have no care for the conditions of the poverty stricken farmers who are dependent on farming for their livelihood,” the petition said.

It said the APMC deterred the exploitation of the farmers by providing MSP.

“Agriculture is characterised by fragmentation due to small holdings and has certain inherent weaknesses beyond control such as dependence on weather, uncertainties in production and an unpredictable market,” he explained in his petition.

The vagaries of weather and inherent handicaps make agriculture risky and inefficient in respect of both input and output management.

“These challenges cannot be addressed by way of monetisation of the farmer’s produce to increase the income. Instead, strengthening the existing APMC system by infusing more capital and effective management of MSP is the need of the hour. The promotion of agreements for farm produce will weaken the process of monetisation as per the current structure of The Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020,” he submitted.

He said 65.53% consists of rural population who depends on agriculture as their principal means of livelihood.

“Thus, the common man, agriculture and the economy are umbilical to one another,” Mr. Prathapan has said.

The enactment of the three controversial agriculture reform laws, which include The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act has seen thousands of farmers protest at the Delhi borders for their repeal. Several attempts at negotiations by the government have failed. Violence reached the ramparts of the Red Fort amid a tractor rally held by farmers on the Republic Day.

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