Udayavni Special

SC rejects Centre’s vehement plea not to stay farm laws, says it’s not powerless


PTI, Jan 12, 2021, 8:42 PM IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday rejected the Centre’s vehement plea that the implementation of new farm laws, enacted by Parliament and having constitutionality, cannot be stayed, and said it was not “completely powerless to grant a stay of any executive action under a statutory enactment.”

In its interim order, the apex court put on hold their implementation till further orders and said, “We are also of the view that a stay of implementation of all the three farm laws for the present, may assuage the hurt feelings of the farmers and encourage them to come to the negotiating table with confidence and good faith.”

A bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde not only stayed the implementation of these laws but also set up a four-member committee to resolve the impasse between the Centre and the farmers protesting against them at Delhi’s borders.

Attorney General KK Venugopal had earlier told the top court that a law cannot be stayed unless the court finds that it violates fundamental rights or constitutional schemes.

“A law cannot be stayed by the Supreme Court unless the Lordships find that it violates the fundamental rights or constitutional schemes. Law has to be without the power to legislate, only then it can be stayed. No petitioners have raised any such issues,” the topmost law officer had argued.

The bench, also comprising Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, held however that it was not powerless in doing so.

“Though we appreciate the…submission of the learned Attorney General, this Court cannot be said to be completely powerless to grant a stay of any executive action under a statutory enactment,” it said.

The top court also referred to its recent order in the Maratha reservation case in which it had directed that “admissions to educational institutions for the Academic Year 2020-21 and appointments to public services and posts under the Government shall be made without reference to the reservation provided under the impugned legislation.”

Referring to several judgements, Venugopal had vehemently contended that the apex court should not stay the implementation of the laws.

“He argued that none of the petitioners who have attacked the farm laws have pointed out any single provision which is detrimental to the farmers and that the laws enacted by Parliament cannot be stayed by this Court, especially when there is a presumption in favour of the constitutionality of legislation,” said the order quoting the Attorney General’s submissions.

Several legal experts had echoed the views of Venugopal saying parliamentary legislations cannot be stayed by the Supreme Court unless it is satisfied prima facie that the statutes are unconstitutional and illegal.

However, the CJI, during the hearing on Monday had observed: “Staying the implementation of laws and staying the law are different. We can always stay executive action under a law.”

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