The Supreme Court on Thursday quizzed Congress MP from Thrissur, T N Prathapan, who challenged the validity of the farm laws, to show which provisions of the new enactments do away with the Minimum Support Price (MSP).
"You want the existing system to continue? Show us the provision which withdraws MSP," a bench presided over by Chief Justice S A Bobde asked a counsel, appearing for the MP.
The court's query came as the counsel submitted that the petitioner was an MP and a farmer too. The petitioner submitted that he wanted the MSP to continue.
As the counsel tried to refer to the paper book, the bench decided to issue notice to the Centre on his plea and tag the matter with pending petitions against the farm laws. The court had earlier stayed the implementation of the controversial laws.
In his plea, Prathapan asked the court to strike down the Farmers' (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, which allowed contract farming, as "unconstitutional, illegal and void".
He claimed the latest law would spell disaster for 14.5 crore farmers and would lead to their exploitation by opening parallel and unregulated market for a few corporates, individuals, multinationals and moneylenders.
In his writ petition, Prathapan contended the law has been passed hastily without having adequate discussion, as a bare reading of its provisions would reveal that it is not a progressive piece of legislation.
He feared that without Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) acting as a protective shield around the farmers, the market would ultimately fall to the corporate greed of multinational companies, who are profit-oriented and do not care for the condition of poverty-stricken farmers.
He asked the court to quash the law also for being violative of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution. The petitioner asked the court to issue direction for establishing farmers tribunal in line with the Industrial Dispute Act and the Consumer Protection Act, in order to protect their interests.
The petitioner claimed that inherent weakness of the agriculture sector cannot be addressed by way of monetisation of the farmer’s produce to increase their income. Instead, strengthening the existing Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) system by infusing more capital and effective management of Minimum Support Price was the need of the hour, he added.