NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s top court on Tuesday temporarily put on hold the implementation of agricultural reform laws and ordered the creation of an independent committee of experts to negotiate with farmers who have been protesting against the legislation.
The Supreme Court’s ruling came a day after it heard petitions filed by the farmers challenging the legislation. It said the laws were passed without enough consultation, and that it was disappointed with the way talks were proceeding between representatives of the government and farmers.
Tens of thousands of farmers protesting against the legislation have been blocking half a dozen major highways on the outskirts of New Delhi for more than 45 days. Farmers say they won’t leave until the government repeals the laws.
They say the legislation passed by Parliament in September will lead to the cartelization and commercialization of agriculture, make farmers vulnerable to corporate greed and devastate their earnings.
The two sides have failed to make progress in multiple rounds of talks over the farmers’ main demand that the laws be scrapped. The government has ruled out withdrawing the laws, but says it could make some amendments.
The two sides are due to meet again on Friday.
On Dec. 30, they reached a consensus on two issues — that the government would continue its subsidy of electricity for irrigating farms, and that farmers would not be punished for burning crop residues, a cause of air pollution.