Taking up two public interest litigations on the farmers’ protest march to Delhi, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday issued notices to the central, Punjab and Haryana governments to file status reports by February 15.
A bench comprising acting chief justice Gurmeet Singh Sandhawalia and justice Lapita Banerji asked the Union and state governments to file status reports on the farmers’ agitation by Thursday. The high court also asked the petitioners to implead the Delhi government as a party to the lawsuits.
The high court had advised for an amicable resolution of the disputes and suggested identification of areas for the farmers to hold their demonstrations.
Various farmers organizations started to march to New Delhi on Tuesday to press their demands, including demanding a legal guarantee to minimum support prices (the price at which the central government buys food grains from farmers) for all crops, the implementation of the Swaminathan commission’s formula, full debt waiver for farmers, pension for farmers and labourers, and withdrawal of cases against farmers during the 2020-21 protest.
One of the PILs was filed by advocate Uday Pratap Singh, a resident of Amravati Enclave in Haryana’s Panchkula. The “unlawful sealing” of the border between Haryana and Punjab, particularly at Shambhu near Ambala, by Haryana authorities was done with the apparent objective of preventing farmers from exercising their constitutional right to assemble and protest peacefully, the petitioner said.
The road blockade was not only causing inconvenience to residents but also hindrance in the movement of ambulances, school buses and pedestrians, he said. The diversion of traffic has increased traffic on alternative routes, causing delay, he added.
The petitioner sought directions to lift restrictions imposed by invoking section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and suspension of mobile internet services and bulk SMSes in several districts including Ambala, Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Jind, Hisar, Fatehabad and Sirsa.
The second petition was filed by advocate Arvind Seth, resident of Sector 5, Mansa Devi Complex, Panchkula. Seth sought directions to states and the Union government to ensure that all the national and state highways and railway tracks in Punjab and Haryana were not blocked by the farmer’s protest and immediate action be taken against the agitators as per the provisions of National Highway Act, 1956.