CONSTITUTIONAL VALIDITY OF THE FARMERS
(EMPOWERMENT AND PROTECTION) AGREEMENT ON PRICE
ASSURANCE, AND FARM SERVICES ACT, 2020 CHALLENGED
(Bar&Bench): A Congress MP from Thrissur TN Prathapan has moved the Supreme Court in
what is possibly the first challenge to the validity of the Farmers (Empowerment and
Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance, and Farm Services Act, 2020.
Prathapan seeks a declaration of the provisions of the Agreement on Price and the Farm
Services Act, along with the related notifications, as illegal, unconstitutional, and void. The
petition mounts the challenge on the grounds that these pieces of legislation are violative of
Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution of India and accordingly "liable to be struck down
as Unconstitutional, illegal and void." It adds that the provisions under challenge are also in
violation of the Directive Principles enshrined in Chapter IV of the Constitution.
It is contended that the Farmers Bills were passed hastily by Parliament, with enough or
adequate discussion on them.
"A bare reading of its provisions will reveal that it is not a progressive piece of
legislation," the petition submits.
It is added that opening of unregulated parallel markets, which is be enabled by these
legislations, would lead to the exploitation of farmers. The plea states,
"...the implementation of the act in its current form will spell disaster for the farming
community by opening a parallel market which is unregulated and gives enough room for
exploitation of the farmers’ community by concentration of power in the hands of a few
corporates/individuals, multinationals and moneylenders thus working against the very object
it was seemingly created for."
Some of the provisions in these legislations would put the farming community in a position
of receiving little redressal in case of disputes. The new law provides for redressal from the
Sub-Divisional Magistrate - who is in essence part of the "overburdened bureaucracy" -
rather than from a court of law.
Significantly, the petitioner also prays for a direction for the setting up of a Tribunal to
redress the grievances pertaining to farmers' issues in a manner similar to the tribunals that
are set up under the Industrial Disputes Act, Consumer Protection Act, Labour Laws, etc.
Another concern raised is the possibility of exporters, traders and middlemen using the law to
their benefit by regulating and controlling the price through means such as hoarding and
creation of artificial demand. These contingencies, if arisen, would be highly detrimental to
the interests of farmers as well as consumers, the plea states.
The petition is drawn by Advocate Aashish George and filed through Advocate James P