The four-member committee of the Supreme Court (SC), which stayed the implementation of farm laws on Tuesday, January 13, happens to be a votary of the legislations and has sided with the Centre on the issue all along, said the protesting farmers.
The panel set up to break the logjam in talks between the government and farmers protesting against the laws includes Bhupinder Singh Mann, the national president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union, agricultural economists Dr. Pramod Kumar Joshi and Professor Ashok Gulati, and Anil Ghanwat, the chief of Shetkari Sanghatana - a Maharashtra-based farmer organisation.
Gulati, who is the former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), the advisory body of the Centre on food supplies and pricing policies, has written opinion pieces in national dailies, and also supported farm laws in the media. He was also honoured with the Padma Shri in 2015.
Joshi has also written several opinion pieces in the past favouring the new farm laws. He has served as the Director of the National Academy of Agricultural Research Management, Hyderabad and the director of the National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research, New Delhi.
Ghanwat is the president of Shetkari Sanghatana, a Maharashtra-based outfit which has been said to back the government on the issue. He said on Tuesday that the legislations partially implement what his group has been demanding for years and his endeavour will be to improve them. Ghanwat, however, also claimed that "we are not lauding the Centre's three acts" adding that the Centre should have consulted the farmers before passing the three laws.
The fourth member of the committee, Mann, is a leader of the farmer union Bhartiya Kisan Union and was a part of a group of farmers that met with Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar in December last year to express support the legislations.
The members of the committee were named on Tuesday evening through an order of the apex court, which was hearing a clutch of pleas challenging the government's farm laws passed in parliament in September last year.
SC, in its order, said the panel will hear the "grievances of the farmers relating to the farm laws and the views of the government and make recommendations."
However, farmers' unions articulated that they would not accept the farm laws, claiming that all the members of the committee "have been pro-government" and have been "justifying the laws", according to news reports.
The farmers' groups had in fact categorically cleared on Tuesday that they won't accept any committee formed by the SC. Addressing a briefing on Tuesday evening, the farmers' unions had claimed that the members of the committee are pro-government.
"We'd issued a press note last night stating that we won't accept any committee formed by Supreme Court for mediation. We were confident that Centre will get a committee formed through Supreme Court to take the burden off their shoulders," said Darshan Pal, the president of the Krantikari Kisan Union.
"We had said yesterday itself that we won't appear before any such committee. Our agitation will go on as usual. All the members of this Committee are pro-government and had been justifying the laws of the government," said Balbir Singh Rajewal, a member of the Bhartiya Kisan Union.