Punjab and Haryana High Court Demands Post-Meeting Update in Ongoing Farmers’ Protests

The Punjab and Haryana High Court is actively involved in addressing the ongoing farmers’ protests, with a recent focus on the scheduled meeting between representatives of the Central government and farmers’ unions on February 15. The Court, led by Acting Chief Justice Gurmeet Singh Sandhawalia and Justice Lapita Banerji, has requested the government to submit status reports after the meeting to address concerns raised in two petitions related to the protests.

The primary demands of the protesting farmers include the enactment of a law ensuring a minimum support price (MSP) for crops. The farmers had planned a ‘Delhi Chalo’ march, leading to the imposition of Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) in parts of Haryana to restrict their movement and block roads leading to Delhi. Two petitions were filed in response to these events, one challenging the restrictions imposed on the farmers and the other seeking action against the protestors.

Uday Pratap Singh, a resident of Panchkula and an advocate at the High Court, filed a petition challenging the restrictions placed on the farmers, including the sealing of borders and suspension of the internet. Singh argued that the farmers’ march was an expression of their democratic right to peaceful protest. The other petition, filed by Advocate Arvind Seth, sought action against the protesting farmers and requested measures to maintain law and order in Punjab and Haryana.

The High Court, which issued notices to the Central government and the governments of Punjab, Haryana, and Delhi on February 13, is set to hear the matter next on February 20. During earlier hearings, the Court emphasized the need for dialogue between the government and the farmers, leading to the announcement of a meeting on February 15.

The Central government expressed its openness to engaging in a dialogue with the farmers, and the Punjab government assured the Court that, despite the tense situation, the state had the protests under control. The state government also expressed support for peaceful protests.

In an affidavit, the Haryana government raised concerns about the potential impact of farmers’ protests on national highways, citing potential disruptions to the movement of people, goods, and essential services. The government highlighted the possibility of tractors entering Delhi for a massive protest and suggested the identification and prevention of such entries to maintain law and order. Section 144, CrPC orders were imposed in 20 districts of Haryana in response to these concerns.

The government’s affidavit also referenced the protests against the now-scrapped Farm Laws in 2020-21, citing substantial losses and expressing fears of protests escalating into violence. Reports of clashes between protestors and police in Jind District and at the Shambhu border in Ambala District raised additional concerns.

The Haryana government proposed the identification of six districts for peaceful protests, namely Yamunanagar, Charkhi Dadri, Kurukshetra, Jhajjar, Panchkula, and Karnal. Similarly, the State of Punjab was encouraged to earmark areas for peaceful protests to avoid disruptions to normal movement.

As the government and farmers’ representatives prepare to meet, the High Court seeks to address the concerns raised in the petitions and encourages a resolution through dialogue. The situation remains dynamic, and the Court will reconvene on February 20 to assess the progress made in addressing the issues related to the ongoing farmers’ protests in Punjab and Haryana.

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