SC judgment on farm laws: violation of separation of powers

Synopsis:  The Supreme court (SC) has stayed the implementation of farm laws. The decision is a case of violation of the separation of powers.  


  • Recently, the SC has stayed the implementation of three farm laws until further orders. 
  • The SC has also given direction to set up a four-member committee to break the deadlock between farmers and the Centre. 
  • Many experts opine that by this judgment the supreme court has encroached into political and administrative management without any legal basis and seen as a violation of the separation of powers. 

Are the reforms necessary? If yes, why it has been opposed? 

According to many agricultural experts, agriculture needs serious reform for achieving the following objectives. 

  • To improve farmers’ incomes and well-being. 
  • To increase crop diversification. 
  • To make agriculture more environmentally sustainable. 
  • To make subsidies less counterproductive.  
  • To keep food inflation down, and ensure that nutrition reaches all. 

The government was right to think reforms were necessary. However, the government failed to gain trust among Farmer communities by prioritising the wrong reforms.  For example, “choice of traders,” which did not tackle the underlying issues, but created more uncertainty. 

What are the negative implications of the recent Supreme Court decision? 

The Supreme court (SC) decision has been criticised on the following grounds; 

  • First, SC’s involvement in the Farm bill issue will give a misleading impression that a distributive conflict can be resolved by technical or judicial means.  
  • Second, by setting up a four-member committee to hear farmers’ grievances the SC has invaded into political territory. The role of the judiciary is to determine unconstitutionality or illegality of law rather than mediating a political dispute 
  • Third, the court has lost its neutrality by seeking to break the momentum of a social movement 
      • Rather than facilitating the orderly and law-bound expression of protest the court has acted to defuse the genuine democratic protest by shifting the onus on the farmers to stop their protests. 
  • Fourth, the court’s action will disrupt the normal political give and take in a democracy between the government and people. 
  • Fifth, the court has redefined the function of mediation the court by violating the first rule of mediation. i.e., The mediators must be acceptable to all parties and appointed in consultation with them. Whereas the SC has Suo Moto appointed a four-member committee without any consultation with farmer groups. 
  • Finally, the court has also positioned itself as an arbiter of national security. It admitted the Attorney General’s contention that farmers’ protests may be the vehicle for the Khalistan movement. 

What is the way forward? 

  • In principle, any mediation to break the stalemate is welcome. But the mediation has to be a political process between the government and the people and it is the responsibility of the Parliament to fix the issue. 
  • What the farmers need is clarity of law and the right to make their demands heard through the political process and civil society not the paternalism of the court 

The court, in the process of saving the government from being on the political back foot the court, has forfeited the very thing it needs most, the repository of trust among its citizens.



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