New Delhi, January 4
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a plea by 35 students of Panjab University, who had written a letter to the Chief Justice urging him to take cognizance of “excesses” against protesting farmers. The top court has registered the letter as a PIL.
The students have sought direction from the top court to order an inquiry into the Haryana Police action of illegitimate use of water cannons, tear gas shells and lathis on peaceful protesting farmers. The letter contended that farmers are protesting peacefully, but the government is not sensitive to these issues.
The students have urged the Chief Justice to direct the Haryana police and Delhi police to withdraw all the cases against innocent farmers which were registered as political vendetta and order a probe into the cases of illegal detention of farmers. “Firstly, in a democratic country, the will and sentiments of people are sine-qua-non. But, here the Government of India is turning deaf and indifferent in toto to the farmers’ plight. We believe the course of action taken by the Government of India is insensitive to understand farmers sentiments”, said the letter.
The students from the Centre for Human Rights and Duties, Panjab University, Chandigarh, sought a direction to both the Centre and state governments to ensure the safety of all protesters, and provide basic amenities to all, especially women, children and the elderly. Mobile toilet vans should be provided at the protest sites.
The farmers have been protesting at various Delhi borders for over a month, asking the government to repeal the three recently enacted farm laws.
The students also sought a direction to curb fake news and action against media channels indulging in misrepresentation and polarisation of the whole issue.
On December 17, the Supreme Court had unequivocally pronounced that it will not interfere with the farmers’ protest and the right to protest is a fundamental right. However, it emphasized on forming a committee comprising of independent and impartial persons — experts in the field of Agriculture — to resolve the impasse between the Centre and the farmers’ unions.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde and comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian had said: “We clarify that this Court will not interfere with the protest in question. Indeed, the right to protest is part of a fundamental right and can, as a matter of fact, be exercised subject to public order.” The observation from the top court came after learning from the Centre that roads are blocked by the police in order to prevent the entry of the protesters/farmers into Delhi.