Lakshay
Farmers Bill 2020 and its repercussions towards the general public
Lakshay Parmar 12 Jan 2021

Farmers Bill 2020 and its repercussions towards the general public

Farmers Bill 2020 and its repercussions towards the general public

The Farmers Bill 2020 (hereinafter referred to as “The Bill”) has made all the headlines and has definitely caught everyone’s attention for not so good reasons. According to the Government this bill aims to improve the already dire situation of the agricultural industry in India. The said bill has introduced three below-mentioned acts:

1.      The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020.

2.      The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020.

3.      The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

These bills were presented in the Lok Sabha on 17th September, 2020 and in Rajya Sabha on 20th September, 2020. Subsequently, they were given the accent by the President on 24th September, 2020.

The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020: This legislation permits farmers to trade without restrictions in India. This act provides a countrywide basis for the Farmer-Sponsor arrangements, i.e. the trader or buyer. It also facilitates the barrier-free exchange of agricultural products between States and intra-State and offers a basis for electronic trade. According to Section 3 (1) of this act, a farming agreement can be constituted between the farmer and the buyer which would provide the essentials of the trade such as price, standard, quantities. This agreement ensures that the farmer gets the pre-determined value of his produce and the value once decided in the agreement cannot be changed irrespective of the market prices.

It also contains a “Force Majeure” clause wherein if the farmer does not deliver the pre-decided amount of produce due to natural calamity, the said amount cannot be recovered against the farmer. Also the Sub-divisional Magistrate would be the adjudicating authority in these kinds of disputes.

Section 3 (3) of this act also gives farmers the opportunity to enter into an agreement with corporates. It also states that in case the sponsor i.e. the trader fails to make the payment

 

The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020: This Act enables farmers to engage in inter-state trade outside mandis and also provides that no market fee shall be levied on trade executed outside of the mandis. The purpose of this act is to widen the scope of selling famers produce and also enabling farmers to sell where they want and where they get the best value for their yield.

Reason behind farmers protest:

It has made the headlines that farmers are protesting at the Delhi border and one of their main contentions is that MSP (Minimum Support Price) is not guaranteed under these new laws and also the farmers fear that mandis would become redundant once these laws come into force and their produce starts getting sold outside the mandis.

Conclusion and how these laws would affect the general public

These laws though are enacted to uplift the agricultural sector, are filled with loopholes through which farmers can be exploited. One of them being the entry of corporate entities, it is believed that the entry of these entities would only benefit big farmers as they place huge orders of produce. Also, corporates have a well structured legal team which can exploit small farmers in case where a dispute arises.

One more concern from a judicial point of view would be that the adjudicating authority would the sub-divisional magistrate and talking about the ground level, it would only increase their work load which would result in in-efficient adjudication process.

The biggest concern of the general public would be the state of monopoly. Once it is struck by the corporates in the agricultural sector, they could demand any price and we have to pay them accordingly. What we are buying at Rs 10 right now would become Rs 100 if this situation is met with.

Going forward, these bills though are enacted with good legislative intention are needed to be re-structured and that could only happen with realizing what is happening at the ground level. With certain amendments and government’s watchful eye, these laws can reform the agricultural sector and can realize its true potential.

As on 12th January 2021, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has stayed these 3 farm laws. The three-judge bench comprising CJI S.A. Bobde, A.S. Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, while staying the laws have also asked for setting up of a committee of experts who would be suggesting changes that would be required in the enactments. Hon’ble CJI S.A. Bobde stated, “We have the power to suspend the legislation. But the suspension of legislation must not be for an empty purpose. We will form a Committee which will submit a report to us…Every person who is genuinely interested in solving the problem is expected to go before the Committee. The Committee will not punish you or pass any orders. It will submit a report to us”.

As per the Supreme Court, the committee so formed would analyze the ground situation and will give submission on that regard and subsequently it would be decided that what part of the law should stay and what must go. Also, the court in this detailed order would specify that the land of the farmers can not be sold under the new legislations. 

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