OpinionGuest's View

A political chaos called farm bills protest

To oust a popular government opposition and in particular, the left affiliated political parties are renting a campaign daily and now trending is the protest against the introduction of two acts, i.e., THE FARMERS (EMPOWERMENT AND PROTECTION) AGREEMENT ON PRICE ASSURANCE AND FARM SERVICES ACT, 2020 and THE FARMERS’ PRODUCE TRADE AND COMMERCE (PROMOTION AND FACILITATION) ACT, 2020 and the amendment brought under THE ESSENTIAL COMMODITIES (AMENDMENT) ACT, 2020 There are no substantial issues before the opposition and the entire unrest at the time of Covid-19 pandemic through illegal roadblocks. Bharat bandh is organized as an attempt to save their sinking dynasty from the political map of India.

We have seen opposition in dubious ways to manufacture issues that did not exist. In the past, the false campaign against Rafale, Citizenship Amendment Act, and now the 2020 Farm Bill protest have convinced the residents of the hollowness in these self-manufactured campaigns. Left parties have lost their grip on their baton in the 2019 General Elections. With the polls in West Bengal just around the corner, the Mahagathbandan (an alliance on the common thread of negativism and personal vendetta against Narendra Modi) are shamelessly running a campaign of lie against the Farm Bills 2020.

The significant features of the act on farmers produce trade and commerce act is the creation of an ecosystem where the farmers and traders enjoy the freedom of choice relating to sale and purchase of farmers’ produce, which facilitates remunerative prices through competitive alternative trading channels; to promote efficient, transparent and barrier-free inter-State and intra-State trade and commerce of farmers’ produce outside the physical premises of markets or deemed markets notified under various State agricultural produce market legislations; to provide a facilitative framework for electronic trading. The act on price assurance and farm services further provides for a national framework on farming agreements that protects and empowers farmers to engage with agri-business firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters, or large retailers for farm services and sale of future farming produce at a mutually agreed remunerative price framework fairly and transparently.

The lefts are left with the lobby of signature campaigners, award wapsi critics – who anyway did not deserve these accolades, prime time journalists, academics, economists, retired civil servants, cinema artist; having post qualified experience (PQE) since 2014 and are willing to sign the motivated petitions and outrage the protests through their social media handles; such is the plight of the opposition.

The only downside is the reforms being not communicated thereby and adequately being hijacked by the bichauliyas/middleman. There are stringent provisions that ensure that farmers’ Interest is of paramount importance under these three acts. Section 6(1) of THE FARMERS (EMPOWERMENT AND PROTECTION) AGREEMENT ON PRICE ASSURANCE AND FARM SERVICES Act 2020 Where, under a farming agreement, the delivery of any farming produce is to be—

(a) taken by the Sponsor at the farm gate, he shall endure such delivery within the agreed time.

(b) effected by the farmer, it shall be the responsibility of the Sponsor to ensure that all preparations for the timely acceptance of such delivery have been made.

The Act has very clearly brought out the dispute settlement mechanism, appropriately communicated and thereby and appellate bodies for dispute resolution under sub-section

(1) of section 13, or the parties to the farming agreement fail to settle their dispute under that section within thirty days, then, any such party may approach the concerned Sub-Divisional Magistrate who shall be the Sub-Divisional Authority for deciding the disputes under farming agreements.

(2) On receipt of a dispute under sub-section (1), the Sub-Divisional Authority may, if—

(a) the farming agreement did not provide for conciliation process, constitute a conciliation board for bringing about settlement of such dispute; or

(b) the parties failed to settle their dispute through conciliation process, decide the dispute in a summary manner within thirty days from the date of receipt of such dispute, after giving the parties a reasonable opportunity of being heard and pass an order for recovery of the amount under dispute, with such penalty and interest, as it deems fit, subject to the following conditions, namely:

(i) where the Sponsor fails to make payment of the amount due to the farmer, such penalty may extend to one and half times the amount due

(ii) where the order is against the farmer for recovery of the amount due to the Sponsor on account of any advance payment or cost of inputs, as per terms of farming agreement, such amount shall not exceed the actual cost incurred by the Sponsor

(iii) where the farming agreement in dispute is in contravention of the provisions of this Act, or default by the farmer is due to force majeure, then, no order for recovery of amount shall be passed against the farmer. 

A party aggrieved by the Sub-Divisional Authority’s order may prefer an appeal to the Appellate Authority, which shall be presided over by the Collector or Additional Collector nominated by the Collector, within thirty days from the date of such order. 

The introduction of these reforms will bring much-needed economic liberalization in the agriculture industry, which employs roughly 58% of countries population and contributes 15% of the nation’s GDP. These reforms are likely to increase competition and help farmers get the best possible price for their produce. The government must communicate well with the farmers and trade unions to end the political chaos.

About the Author

Siddhant Mishra obtained B.A LL. B (Hons) from School of Law, KIIT Deemed to be University Bhubaneswar in 2016 and has been practicing and handling cases independently before the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad, Lucknow Bench. Siddhant is an avid reader and writer and writes regularly on issues relating to law and policy.

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