Cabinet clears bill to repeal 3 farm laws

To be tabled in upcoming Parliament session
Cabinet clears bill to repeal 3 farm laws
The contentious laws had led to mass protests by farmers at various Delhi border points. [File] Photo source: Twitter/ @SikhProf

New Delhi: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a bill to repeal the three farm laws which led to protests at various Delhi border points by thousands of farmers for nearly a year, and it will be introduced in Parliament during the upcoming winter session.

The Cabinet approval comes following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement on November 19 regarding withdrawal of the three farm legislations.

He had said the Centre could not convince protesting farmers about the benefits of these laws, while urging them to end their protest.

The Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021 has been approved to roll back the three laws which were passed by Parliament in September last year with an objective to bring reforms in the agriculture sector, especially marketing of farm produce.

"The Cabinet has completed the formalities to repeal the three farm laws. ...In the upcoming session of the Parliament, it will be our priority to take back these three laws," Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur told reporters.

Thakur, however, did not reply to queries related to setting up of a committee to study minimum support price (MSP) and other farm issues as announced by the Prime Minister.

The winter session of Parliament will commence on November 29 and conclude on December 23.

The three laws to be repealed are -- Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act.

Later, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar tweeted that the Cabinet's approval in the very first meeting after the Prime Minister's announcement is a sign of the uniformity of his "words and deeds".

The repeal of these three legislations has been one of the key demands of around 40 farmer unions protesting against these reforms for nearly a year now.

These laws, which are under suspension following a Supreme Court order in January this year, had triggered widespread protests by thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, at Delhi borders.

The protest, which started at the fag-end of November 2020, is still continuing.

On November 21, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) -- the joint body of farmer unions leading the current protests -- had written to the Prime Minister to immediately resume talks on the farmers' six demands, including legal guarantee for procurement of crops at MSP.

The other demands were sacking and arrest of Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra in connection with the Lakhimpur Kheri incident, withdrawal of cases against farmers and building of a memorial for those who lost their lives during the agitation.

They also sought removal of penal provisions on farmers in the 'Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Act 2021' and withdrawal of the draft 'Electricity Amendments Bill, 2020/2021' proposed by the government.

SKM had said it would continue their planned protests, including a march to Parliament on November 29, to mark the one year of anti-farm law protests.

The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act is aimed at giving freedom to farmers to sell their produce outside the mandis.

The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act is to provide cultivators the right to enter into a contract with agri-business firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters, or large retailers for the sale of future farming produce at a pre-agreed price.

The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act was implemented to remove commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, onion, and potatoes from the list of essential commodities and also do away with the imposition of stock holding limits on such items, except under 'extraordinary circumstances'.

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