Thiruvabharanam procession begins The three-day procession carrying Thiruvabharanam, the sacred gold ornaments that will adorn Lord Ayyappa during the Makaravilakku ceremony on Thursday, set off from Pandalam on Tuesday. Due to the pandemic, the number of devotees accompanying the procession has been restricted. RT-PCR negative certificates were made mandatory for those carrying the boxes | SHAJI VETTIPURAM | P5 kochi l wednesday l January 13, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 16 l late city EDITION CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOgGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ WARANGAL ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI Govt quietly accepts CJI’s formulation in contrast to its stiff opposition on Monday; no-show by farmers’ three senior advocates; tractor rally on R-Day will be peaceful, say unions SC sets up panel, pauses farm laws K A N U S A R D A @ New Delhi The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued an “extraordinary order” to stay the implementation of the three disputed farm laws and set up a panel of four agriculture experts to talk to all stakeholders and report back to the court within two months. A bench headed by CJI S A Bobde stayed till further orders the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act; Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Act; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act. “We are of the view that the constitution of a committee of experts in the field of agriculture to negotiate between the farmers’ bodies and the Government of India may create a congenial atmosphere and improve the trust and confidence of the farmers... a stay of implementation of all the three farm laws for the present may assuage the hurt feelings of the farmers and encourage them to come to the negotiating table with confidence and good faith,” the 11-page order by the three-judge bench read. The court’s order comes a day after pulling up the Centre for its poor handling of farmers’ agitation. The bench also said that while the court doesn’t want to stifle a peaceful protest, “the extraordinary order of stay of implementation of the farm laws will be perceived as an achievement” and will encourage the agitating farmers to end their protest. Unlike on Monday, the Centre represented by Attorney General K K Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta did not oppose the stay on the laws. The panel members are BKU (Mann) national president Bhupinder Singh Mann; Pramod Kumar Joshi, director, South Asia international Food Policy; agriculture economist Ashok Gulati; and Shetkari Sanghatana leader Anil Ghanwat (see box). The SC rejected advocate M L Sharma’s submission that farmers won’t talk to the panel. “If you want to agitate indefinitely, you can. Every person who is interested in solving the problem is expected to go before the committee. The committee will not punish you or pass any orders. It will submit a report to us,” it said. The court said it is concerned about the validity of the laws and also about protecting the life and property of citizens affected by protests. The bench turned down farmers’ demand that the Prime Minister should approach them to hold negotiations and said, “We cannot ask the Prime Minister... he is not a party here.” The bench was surprised to learn that none of the three senior counsel appeared for the farmer unions Tuesday . “Where is (Dushyant) Dave? Yesterday he said he will get back today with the views of farmers unions. They have not logged in P7 also,” the CJI remarked. meet The Four Wise Men Who: Bhupinder Singh Mann is the national president of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Mann) and All India Kisan Coordination Committee View: Was among a group that met minister Tomar and backed the new laws, but with some amendments; wants MSP ensured Who: Dr Pramod Kumar Joshi is an agricultural economist and director (South Asia) for International Food Policy Research Institute View: Votary of legalising MSP; on contract farming; feels it’s not govt’s job to buy/sell produce; market should determine prices Who: Ashok Gulati is an agricultural economist and former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices View: Supports farm reforms. Has urged govt to address concerns on contract farming and assurance that MSP and APMC systems will continue Who: Anil Ghanwat is the president of Shetkari Sanghatana, a Maharashtrabased organisation founded by Sharad Joshi View: Has sided with the govt but agrees it did not hold proper discussions with farmers’ organisations before bringing the laws Unions to stay away, see govt ploy H a r p r eet B aj w a @ Chandigarh Terming the four-member expert committee set up by the Supreme Court on Tuesday as progovernment and pro-agri reform laws, farmer leaders refused to appear before it and decided to continue their protests. The decisions were taken at a meeting of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of around 40 protesting farmer unions, following the SC order. Balbir Singh Rajewal, president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, Punjab (Rajewal) said, “The committee members are pro-government and thus not dependa- ble. We never asked the court to form a committee; the government is behind all this.” Calling it a government ploy, Rajewal said, “our only demand is repealing the farm laws.” He, however, said the farmer unions will attend the ninth round of talks with the government on January 15 “as we do not want to give them any excuse”. He also assured that the proposed tractor march on January 26 will be peaceful. The All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee said: “We had already said that we will not accept any committee formed by the SC for mediation.” +ve Saina barred in morning, back in play at night anm o l g u r un g @ Chennai IN what was supposed to be a return to action for some of the elite Indian shuttlers, it turned out to be a controversial drama-filled day, both on and off the court. Saina Nehwal tested positive for coronavirus, so did HS Prannoy It . looked like their Thailand Open campaign would end even before takeoff. In fact, Saina, who was supposed to play on Tuesday was forced , to sit out. But after both of them cleared their IgG antibody tests, they were cleared to participate from Wednesday . “Nehwal, Prannoy and Jansen tested positive in the PCR test but their antibody IgG was positive. A positive antibody test means a person has been infected with COVID-19 virus at some point in the past. It does not mean they are currently infected,” said a BWF statement. Kidambi Srikanth, after his nasal swab test, posted a picture of his bloodied nose on social media. He termed it ‘unacceptable’. It looked like doom and gloom for Indians at one point with BWF, putting them in the ‘high risk’ category. On the court, PV Sindhu fluffed her chance P11 after going one game up. Kamal’s letter in love of Left leaves state govt reeling E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @T’Puram Test turns bloody mess for Srikanth The batch of three pictures that Kidambi Srikanth posted on Tuesday was disturbing to say the least. A close shot of him with a bloodied nose and a couple of pictures that showed him holding tissues showing the amount of blood he had lost. It had happened after he was administered the nasal swab test EXPRESS READ Don’t extend criminal liability to mins: HC Kochi: The High Court which allowed the CBI to continue its probe into the corruption allegation against LIFE Mission, said criminal liability cannot be extended to political executives including the CM, ministers and legislatures merely on the ground that they have taken a policy decision to implement the project. P4 16 pages, including 4 pages of KOCHI Express The government found itself in a tight spot in the assembly on Tuesday after the Opposition disclosed contents of a letter from Chalachitra Academy Chairman Kamal to Cultural Affairs Minister A K Balan recommending regularisation of four contract staff of the institution for their allegiance to the ruling Left. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was quick to defend his gover nment in the episode. He said Balan had already responded to Kamal’s letter that political allegiance was not the yardstick for regularisation of contract staff. Pinarayi clarified that none of the staff has been regularised till date. Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala raised Kamal’s letter as a trump card after the UDF’s demand for an adjournment motion to discuss “large-scale back-door appointments” carried out by the LDF government was ● More on P4 turned down.
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