From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : APMC Act
Mains level : Paper 3- Agri bills and their implications for the farmers.
Agri-bill passed by the Parliament resulted in the protest from farmers from several states. The bills have also been challenged on the legal footing as well. This article explains how the bills will benefit the farmers and also examines the legal basis used for their passage.
States trying to nullify the agri bills passed by Parliament
- Parliament has passed three bills on agriculture reform. This has evoked protests, largely in Punjab and Haryana.
- Taking recourse to Article 254 of the Constitution, the Punjab government has passed its own bills to nullify some provisions of the central acts.
- Similar action by the Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan governments seems to be on the anvil.
Legal justification for Parliament passing the laws related to agriculture
- The Constitution has placed agriculture on the state list.
- Various petitions have also been filed in the Supreme Court claiming that the central laws infringe upon the jurisdiction of state governments.
- However, it is the Centre which decides and announces support prices for major crops for the entire country.
- It also decides issues such as bank loan waivers.
- International agreements and multilateral trade in agricultural products also fall in the Union government’s domain.
- Agricultural and dairy products, in fact, had a prominent role in India not joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
- Entry 33 in the concurrent list limits the power of states in agriculture, by empowering both governments to legislate on production, trade and supply of a range of agricultural foodstuffs and raw material.
Use of Article 254 to bypass Central law
- The Punjab bill has set in motion the process of states taking refuge under Article 254 to pass their own pieces of legislation.
- All state bills that seek to nullify central acts have to be approved by the President after they have received the consent of the governor of the state.
- Reformist chief ministers and astute policy planners should grab this opportunity and encourage investment in private infrastructure to create supply chains and give the farmer the benefit of demand-led prices.
- They should also take appropriate action to create institutional mechanisms, such as farmer producer organisations or aggregators, to ensure greater farmer participation.
It would be in the interests of the farming community and state governments to give the much-delayed reform measures a fair chance by giving them access to competitive purchases, affording better prices.