First physical meeting of expert group on agricultural laws likely January 19: report

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Farmers protested over new agricultural laws near Delhi border posts (File)

New Delhi:

The Supreme Court-appointed panel on agricultural laws is expected to hold its first meeting on Jan. 19 at the Pusa campus, one of its members Anil Ghanwat said Thursday, saying the committee would not have “a problem with it.” ego or prestige “if he had to leave. to farmers’ protest sites to talk to them.

Panel members were due to have a virtual interaction earlier today to discuss their future course of action, but this could not happen after ex-MP and farmer leader Bhupinder Singh Mann stepped down of the committee.

Existing members can now arrange for their virtual interaction on Friday, Mr Ghanwat said, while saying he will not leave the commission unless the Supreme Court asks him to do so and he does not expect that he will leave the commission. another member recuses himself.

On January 11, the Supreme Court appointed a four-member committee to review new farm laws against which farmers, especially in Punjab, Haryana and parts of Uttar Pradesh, have been protesting at Delhi’s borders since more than 40 days.

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The court ordered the committee to hold its first meeting within 10 days and submit a report within two months.

“The first meeting should be held before January 20. It will be held with existing members. Most likely, the meeting will be held on January 19 at the Pusa campus,” Ghanwat told PTI in an interview.

When asked if the committee would continue to operate with existing members, he said, “The existing three-member committee will operate unless the Supreme Court gives direction to add an additional member.”

Mr. Ghanwat is the Chairman of the Maharashtra-based Shetkari Sanghatana Agricultural Organization.

Asked about the planned virtual meeting of the panel members, he said: “Since Mann has stepped down from the committee, the meeting could not take place. It can take place tomorrow.”

In the virtual interaction, panel members had to decide whether to call the first meeting before January 20 and the terms of reference, among others.

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Regarding the possibility of other members resigning from the panel, Mr Ghanwat said: “I have been appointed by the Supreme Court. Until the highest court asks me to level, I will not leave the commission. I don’t think the other members will recuse themselves. But everyone has their own opinion and is free to act according to their will. “

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Of some protesting farmer unions alleging that committee members were all supporters of farm laws, Mr. Ghanwat said, “I don’t know on what parameters the Supreme Court chose us. She must have seen our history. I respect their decision. “

He also thanked the protesting farmers that it was because of their agitation that agriculture was being discussed at such a high level for the first time, otherwise the farmers were always taken for granted.

“Thanks to them, there is an opportunity to write a good law. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to work,” he added.

Regarding the government holding parallel talks with the protesting farmers, scheduled for Jan. 15, after the committee’s appointment by the SC, Mr. Ghanwat said: “I think this will be their last meeting with the government. with the committee, which will report to the Supreme Court. “

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Asked about farmers’ reluctance to participate in the work of the committee, he said: “We will go ahead of them. We are their brothers. We have worked together in the past. We will contact them, sit down with them and discuss the issue. . There is no problem. “

He added: “We are not afraid or ashamed to go to see them for interviews. There is no question of prestige. I have worked all my life for the welfare of the farmers. Those who manifested also sacrificed their lives for If our intention and our goal are one, then there is no problem of ego or prestige. “

When asked if there would be a fair hearing, he replied, “Of course. Our duty is to listen to their claims and bring them to the Supreme Court. Suggestions will be given on how they can be done. be satisfied. We will do our best to satisfy them and we will not allow them to feel cheated. During the discussion, I am convinced that the farmers who protest will say: Enforce these laws. “

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