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CJI irked at Dave’s absence in farm laws hearing

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New Delhi, Jan 20 (IANS) Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde on Wednesday expressed his dissatisfaction at the absence of senior advocate Dushyant Dave, representing eight farmer unions protesting against the farm laws, from the hearing in connection with the laws last week.

Citing the hearing where Dave was not present, the Chief Justice said: “We remember saying that we are not passing any orders and keeping it (the matter) for tomorrow.”

Dave submitted before the bench also comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian that he had sought time to seek instructions from his clients.

At this, the Chief Justice noted that Dave was not there the next day. “You always appear, you were not expected not to appear,” he said.

“This is not proper… if you were interested in the matter, then you should have appeared. Everybody appears when we dictate orders,” he added.

Dave replied that there was a genuine misunderstanding. The Chief Justice said: “We normally know you were happy to appear, but do not know why you didn’t appear.” After this, he closed the topic.

The observation was made by Chief Justice during hearing on an application by Rajasthan-based farmer union, Kisan Mahapanchayat, seeking modification of its order January 12, which named the four expert members on the committee to resolve the deadlock between farmer unions and Centre over the farm laws.

The farmers union contended that all the four members have been staunchly and ardently advocating the implementation of farm laws, and it is important to include members who are against the laws to create a balance.

However, the Chief Justice said: “The purpose of the appointment (of the four-member committee) was clearly to listen to the grievances of the parties affected by the laws with reference to provisions enacted. Adjudicatory power has not been conferred on the committee. The committee role is to share the grievances of parties affected by law.”

The Chief Justice also held a brief discussion with advocate Prashant Bhushan, who was also representing the farmer unions, along with Dave.

“We are asking what solution can be found. We are calling upon you to counsel your litigants to bring about peace,” he told Bhushan.

As Bhushan said that the farmer unions want to repeal these laws, the Chief Justice replied the only thing in democracy other than repeal is setting aside the law through the court and cited the stay on the implementation of the laws.

Bhushan also said that farmers want to take out a tractor rally on the Outer Ring Road in the capital, as they intend to celebrate the Republic Day. He added that farmers also want to hold peaceful protest.

Attorney General K.K. Venugopal contested this, saying “5,000 tractors in the city cannot be allowed, as they can go all over the city.” He also cited violence in Haryana’s Karnal, where the protestors did not allow Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar to hold a Kisan Mahapanchayat.

However, the Chief Justice said: “We trust Bhushan’s statement that their clients want to be peaceful.”

Concluding the hearing, the top court issued notice on Kisan Mahapanchayat application. The court also sought response from the Centre to fill up the vacancy created after recusal of Bhartiya Kisan Union President B.S. Mann from the committee.

–IANS

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