Farmers Protest 2020: Let's listen to the Indian Constitution

A lot of information is flowing about one of the largest human protests in World History. Lakhs of Indian Farmers are on the road, protesting the three farm laws the Govt. says is the best formula to end all their problems. The Farmers say they don't want them. The Govt. says that it knows better.

Many of you have written to me in the past several days inquiring what's happening. Moreover, the Indian Media is so biased that it acts more of a Govt. mouthpiece than the fourth estate it was envisioned to be.

Let me begin by saying that these laws' foundation is so shaky and dicey that reading the bills themselves doesn't make any sense.

In our Indian Constitution, there are lists. These cover which segment will be a State Subject and which will be a Central Government subject. Defense, for example, comes under Centre. For any sector that we need to discuss, we have to see who is authorized to create policies for that sector.

Let us move forward to the State List. No. 14 mentions - "Agriculture, including agricultural education and research, protection against pests and prevention of plant disease." No. 27 says that trade and commerce within a state also fall under State purview.

How then, one wonders, the Central Government is railroading these laws in the Parliament calling them Agriculture Reforms? If Agriculture needs reforms, let the State enacts its own law, consulting its own farmers. We won't get any farmer agitation that way. Each State can sit with its farmers and work its policies.

Even the Mandi issue will be addressed if the Centre stops encroaching on the Federal Structure. In Bihar, the farmers were okay with the closure of Mandis (agriculture marketplaces). In Punjab, we have a powerful Mandi System. So Bihar can opt-out of it, and Punjab, whose farmers want it, can work with the State authorities to empower it. 

The whole issue is standing on the Central Govt's stubbornness, not recognizing the Constitution and bullying the State Governments to tow the line. They should have guided the local governments to amend local laws based on local realities. By not respecting the Constitution's boundaries, it appears they were not even authorized to bring these laws into effect. 

Now let us move on to the Farmers protesting against these laws. I am reading much weird stuff like why are they sitting on roads, why are they protesting when a legitimate government has made these Acts for them.

We have to understand here what our Constitution, the law of our land, says about this. Article 19(1)(a) guarantees the freedom of speech and expression; Article 19(1)(b) assures citizens the Right to assemble peaceably and without arms. Article 19(2) imposes reasonable restrictions on the Right to assemble peaceably and without arms.

If the farmers, who are without any arms, who had not participated in any violence since June when the protests started, are being bullied by the Mainstream Media and the Indian State, it's wrong.

The Farm Laws might be wrong or right in the language. We can argue against them or for them. You cannot tell the farmers that they cannot protest. The tear gases, the use of barriers, water cannons, and the police's brute force are entirely wrong. It also belies the intentions of the State. If it is openly harassing the protestor, how can one believe that it has their best interests in the heart? Again, a suitable place agreeable to all sides should be allocated to the protestors to conduct a peaceful protest. 

You don't need to be an expert to figure out that the Fundamental Right of Peaceful Protest is being violated here. It is not about picking aside. It is about going by the Constitution. India might be the largest democracy on this Planet. But it is only so if we follow what the Constitution has laid down for us.

Tushar Mangl

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