The Bar Council of Delhi, vide letter dated December 2, 2020, has written to the Prime Minister of India, Shri. Narendra Modi insisting on the expeditious repeal of the newly enacted Farm Laws, 2020.
Two out of these three farm laws, namely the Produce Trade and Commerce Act 2020 as well as the Agreement on Price Assurance Act 2020, contain express provisions barring the jurisdictions of Civil Courts from hearing disagreements emerging out the functioning of these laws.
The powers to settle such disputes have instead been conferred on the Sub- Divisional Magistrates and Additional District Magistrates. The letter states, that this gives rise to a serious infringement on the Separation of Powers as envisaged under Article 50 of the Constitution of India. At present, the legislations have provided for the establishment of conciliation boards composed by the SDMs to hear all disputable matters.
In the event of unfair and arbitrary exercise of powers by the SDMs, it is absolutely essential that judicial bodies be vested with the powers of checks and balances to regulate such untoward incidents.
Ousting the jurisdiction of Civil Courts as well as the right of lawyers to represent farmers in disputes possessing civil ramifications, and in turn, delegating the same to administrative authorities is a clear- cut overreach on part of the executive.
The Bar Council of Delhi has maintained that the impugned legislation, will generate severe prejudices to the welfare of lawyers as well as the District Courts and High Courts at large. Furthermore, it will endanger the basic interests of citizens, given the past history of bureaucrats in providing justice. The letter even raised the likelihood of corruption-related issues during the surrendering of such authority by the Courts to the said executive bodies.
The letter further suggested that adequate opportunity be provided to the farmers in order to reach a harmonies solution to the current dispute by means of enacting suitable legislation that caters to the interests of all the stakeholders involved and the farming community specifically.