Kerala may challenge Centre's farm Bills in the Supreme Court

Published : September 24, 2020 13:43 IST

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan (left) and Agricultural Minister V.S. Sunil Kumar. A file picture. Photo: S. Gopakumar

The Kerala government is considering the possibility of approaching the Supreme Court against the three farm sector Bills introduced recently by the Central government. “The suggestion came before the State Cabinet at its meeting on September 23. We found that it needs to be examined legally. We have decided that the Law Department should examine it,” Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.

The proposal is for the State to challenge the Centre’s introduction of laws dealing with subjects in the Concurrent and State lists, and on an issue of such widespread impact, without consultation with State governments.

At a press conference held earlier, State Agriculture Minister V.S. Sunil Kumar described the Bills as “anti-people laws aimed at surrendering the farm sector to multinational monopolies”. They would turn farmers into slaves of the corporates, take away the monopoly of procurement of farm products from the Central government and allow these companies to monopolise the market by giving them a free hand in procurement and hoarding. He said the State would join hands with other States that were opposing the Bills to fight against the attempt to destroy the federal structure of the country, and called on the people of the State to join hands against the “anti-people, anti-farmer” laws.

The laws were meant to facilitate the entry of any company in the world into the primary production and distribution sectors in India, he said and added that there was widespread concern among farmers that once the Bills came into force, the system of minimum support price would become a thing of the past. As the subjects come under the Concurrent and State Lists, the Centre should have taken decisions on them only in consultation with the State governments, taking them into confidence and protecting their interests, he said.

“The new laws will lead to a situation where multinational corporations with vested interests will start making decisions on matters regarding agriculture and agriculture marketing in the country. In the name of contract farming, they will be free to introduce any technology, seed, or any such input, or decide which crops to grow, even if they are detrimental to people’s interests, without the permission of State governments. All this is going to create a huge impact in the country and is being done by the Centre without consulting the States,” Sunil Kumar said.

He said that though successive Central governments had usually desisted from making laws on issues in the Concurrent and State lists, the BJP government had gone to “the astonishing extent” of suggesting in the Budget speech that those States which agreed to implement the new farm policies alone would get priority in getting Central assistance.

The Agriculture Minister also said that the State Planning Board had been asked to conduct a study on the impact of the three Bills on the agriculture sector in Kerala.

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