The President gave his assent to the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 on September 24, as per a notification issued by the Law Ministry on Sunday. The President signed on the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 on September 26. All three bills have been notified in the official gazette on Sunday by the Law Ministry.
It emerges that President signed on two of these bills just a day after the leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad had met the President on September 23, handing him over a representation on behalf of various opposition parties that the bills had been passed unconstitutionally and should be returned. Azad had also told the President that the government should have consulted all parties and farmer leaders before bringing the farm bills. The two bills got the assent from the President on September 24, a day before the state-wide bandh call by farmer organisations in Punjab and Haryana.
The two bills had been passed in the Rajya Sabha through a voice-vote on September 20 amidst ruckus in the house. The Essential Commodities Amendment (Act) was passed in Rajya Sabha on September 22. The first law is described in the notification as one to provide for a national framework on farming agreements that protects and empowers farmers to engage with agri-business firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters or large retailers for farm services and sale of future farming produce at a mutually agreed remunerative price framework in a fair and transparent manner and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
The second law is described in the notification as one to provide for the creation of an ecosystem where the farmers and traders enjoy the freedom of choice relating to sale and purchase of farmers’ produce which facilitates remunerative prices through competitive alternative trading channels; to promote efficient, transparent and barrier-free inter-State and intra-State trade and commerce of farmers’ produce outside the physical premises of markets or deemed markets notified under various State agricultural produce market legislations; to provide a facilitative framework for electronic trading and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.