Constitutional Validity of Farm Bill 2020

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Written by: Ms Devshree Dangi

The Indian Constitution separates the powers of the Union and the states for making laws and using this power there have been many laws which the state made in the subject matters enumerated in List II provided under schedule 7 of Indian Constitution.

Recently three farm bills have been passed by the parliament and got the assent of the President of India on 27th day of September 2020.

The laws on agriculture in India were in need of amendment because it had not been amended for a very long period of time. The Government of India found it to be a matter of national interest and introduced three farm bills with new reforms in the agricultural sector.

The three farm bills are “Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce ( Promotion and facilitation) Act, 2020, The Farmer’s (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Service Act, 2020, The Essential Commodities (amend) Act, 2020.”

Though the Parliament alone can make laws for the whole territory of India these three bills are highly criticized on the basis of unconstitutionality or constitution validity.

The constitution in its schedule VII provides three lists containing subjects on which the Centre and the states can make laws separately.

It is provided by the constitution of India that the Centre cannot make laws on the subjects included in the state list and the states cannot make laws on the subjects included in the union list. There is another list called the concurrent list that includes the subjects on which both the states and Centre can make laws.

Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce ( Promotion and facilitation) Act, 2020

These farmers produce trade and Commerce (promotion and facilitation) Act, 2020 has been introduced with an aim to create a system where the farmers and traders can freely produce, sale and purchase. This farm bill gives freedom of trade to the farmers. Earlier the farmers had to sale their produce in-state Mandis but now after this bill has passed they are free to sell they produce even outside the Mandis.

The Farmer’s (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Service Act, 2020

This Farmer’s (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Service Act, 2020 bill has been introduced with an aim to increase the farmer’s income by contract farming. This bill allows the farmers to enter into contract farming traders and Companies. Furthermore, it has been provided in this act that in case of a dispute between the farmer and the party to contract there is an effective dispute resolution mechanism that will look after the dispute.

The Essential Commodities (amend) Act, 2020

This Essential commodity (amend) Act, 2020 has brought an amendment to the existing essential commodities act. This Act has provisions to remove commodities like cereal, pulses and oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of the essential commodity.

Powers of legislature to make laws

Seventh schedule of the Indian Constitution

The constitution of India in its seventh schedule provides three lists which include these subjects on which the Centre and the States can make laws separately. There is a list provided in the seventh schedule of the Indian Constitution called the concurrent list which has the subjects on which both the Centre and state can make laws.

The union list has ninety-nine subjects, the state list has 61 subjects and the concurrent list has 52 subjects.

The subject “agriculture” is included in the state list’s entry number 14 for which the states have the power to make laws concerning agriculture. The subject “trade and Commerce of goods” is included in concurrent list entry number 33 for which the Centre has the power to make laws concerning with the trade and commerce in the agricultural sector.

But Centre has no power to legislate on subjects enumerated in-state list under ordinary circumstances but there are certain conditions that allow the union parliament to make laws even on the subjects contained in the state list.

Article 248 of the Indian Constitution

Indian Constitution in Article 248 gives the residuary power to the union to make laws in the subjects enumerated in List II and List III that is State and Concurrent list.

The courts can decide whether the subject on which the union wants to use its residuary power falls under the residuary power or not.

Article 249 of the Indian Constitution

Under Article 249 of the Indian Constitution, the Union has the power to make laws on the subjects enumerated in state list when it’s the concern of National interest.  It is provided that if the Council of States has declared by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting that it is necessary or expedient in the national interest that Parliament should make laws with respect to any matter enumerated in the State List specified in the resolution, it shall be lawful for Parliament to make laws for the whole or any part of the territory of India with respect to that matter while the resolution remains in force.

The parliament made laws on the subject enumerated in state list was of the National interest. So there was nothing unconstitutional on the part of Parliament that it made laws concerning with the National interest. The laws made by the Central Government are good in nature and should be properly interpreted.

The Constitution of India has already separated the powers of the State and the Centre to legislate. But at the same time, Constitution empowers the Union with Residuary Power to make laws and this power of Union is limited and cannot be misused as the Courts are given the power to decide whether the subject matter falls under the Residuary power or not.

All three Farm Bills passed by Parliament are constitutionally valid and appropriate. The only problem is that the people who have influence over the people of India or have popularity are misleading the laws and interpreting it in the wrong way. But if these laws will implement in a way that the government promised, it will surely benefit the farmers with what they deserve.


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