Farmers' tractor rally: Plea in SC seeks inquiry commission to look into violence on Republic Day

The tractor parade on Tuesday dissolved into anarchy on the streets of Delhi
Last Updated 27 January 2021, 07:13 IST

A plea was filed on Wednesday in the Supreme Court seeking setting up of a commission, headed by a retired apex court judge, to inquire the violence during the protesting farmers' tractor rally in the national capital on the Republic Day.

The plea has also sought a direction to the concerned authority to lodge First Information Report (FIR) under relevant penal provisions against the individuals or organisations responsible for the violence and causing dishonour of the National Flag on January 26.

The tractor parade on Tuesday that was to highlight the demands of farmer unions to repeal three new agri laws dissolved into anarchy on the streets of Delhi as thousands of protesters broke through barriers, fought with the police, overturned vehicles and hoisted a religious flag from the ramparts of the iconic Red Fort.

Delhi Police has registered 22 FIRs so far in connection with the violence in which over 300 policemen were injured, officials said on Wednesday.

The plea, filed in the apex court by advocate Vishal Tiwari, has said that a three-member inquiry commission under the chairmanship of a former top court judge and comprising of two retired high court judges should be set up for collecting and recording evidence in the matter and submit a report to the court in a time-bound manner.

It said that farmers’ protest against the three new agri laws is going on for over two months but it took a “violent turn” during the tractor parade.

“Unfortunately, the tractor march took a violent turn leaving injuries and destruction of public property. This incident also affected the daily life of the public. The internet services were interrupted as government ordered the operators to suspend the same. In the present time, the internet services are very essential to carry out the work in different professions especially in advocacy as the courts and our Supreme Court of India is functioning online,” Tiwari has said in his plea.

The petition said that clash between the farmers and police on the Republic Day has caught the attention of the entire world.

“The matter is serious because when the protest was going on peacefully for the last two months then suddenly, how it turned into a violent movement and led violence on January 26. The question for consideration in national security and public interest arises that who is responsible for creating the disturbance and how and who turned the peaceful farmer protest into violent movement or how and who created the circumstances which let the protest turn violent,” it said.

“The blames are from both sides and the matter is to be inquired by an independent agency i.e by setting up an inquiry commission under the chairmanship of retired Supreme Court Judge,” the plea said.

Read: Farmers' tractor rally violence: 10 things to know

It said there may be some conspiracy by some “notorious forces or organizations” to cause disturbance and damage the peaceful protest and create clash between police and protesting farmers.

On January 20, the Centre had withdrawn its application seeking an injunction against the proposed tractor march on January 26 after the apex court had said that issue of tractor rally by farmers protesting against the new farms laws was in “executive domain”.

The Centre, through Delhi Police, had filed an application seeking an injunction against the proposed tractor or trolley march or any other kind of protest which seeks to disrupt the Republic Day gathering and celebrations.

On January 12, the apex court had stayed the implementation of the contentious new farm laws till further orders and constituted a four-member committee to make recommendations to resolve the impasse over them between the Centre and farmers' unions protesting at Delhi borders.

The members of the court-appointed committee were -- Bhupinder Singh Mann, National President of Bhartiya Kisan Union, All India Kisan Coordination Committee; Parmod Kumar Joshi, 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 of Shetkari Sanghatana.

Later, Mann had recused himself from the committee.

The top court had on January 12 said it would hear the pleas against the farm laws after eight weeks when the committee would give its suggestions to resolve the impasse after talking to the protesters and the government.

Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, are protesting at various border points of Delhi for over a month now against the three laws -- 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.

Enacted in September 2020, the government has presented these laws as major farm reforms aimed at increasing farmers' income, but the protesting farmers have raised concerns that these legislations would weaken the minimum support price (MSP) and "mandi" (wholesale market) systems and leave them at the mercy of big corporations.

The government has maintained that these apprehensions are misplaced and has ruled out a repeal of the laws.

(Published 27 January 2021, 07:13 IST)

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