Punjab passes bills against farm laws

Punjab became the first state in the country to legislatively counter Centre’s contentious farm laws when its assembly unanimously passed on Tuesday three agriculture bills, along with another bill protecting the state’s farmers from attachment of their land holding up to 2.5 acres in any recovery proceeding by any court in the state.

The assembly also passed a unanimous resolution seeking immediate annulment of the Centre’s three agri-marketing laws and promulgation of a new law to protect minimum support price and ensure continuance of procurement of foodgrains by the Centre through FCI and other agencies. The four bills, tabled by CM Captain Amarinder Singh, were passed by a voice vote.

Punjab’s bills essentially seek to amend the provisions of the three central laws and, among other things, provide for imprisonment of not less than three years and fine for a person who “harasses/ compels a farmer to sell his agricultural produce below MSP”.

Seeking to protect the interest of farmers, farm labourers and those engaged in ancillary and incidental activities related to production, sale and marketing of agricultural produce, the amendments ensure that no sale or purchase of wheat or paddy shall be valid unless the price paid for it is equal to or greater than the MSP.

Punjab’s bills also restore the primacy of Agriculture Produce Market Committee Act over the central legislations. They also protect consumers from hoarding and black marketing of agricultural produce.

The four bills, tabled by chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, were passed by a voice vote with the two BJP MLAs skipping the special session.

“If the constitutional head fails to sign the four amendment bills passed in the assembly for the welfare of farmers, the Punjab government is ready to take legal recourse,” the CM said after the meeting, adding that he was not afraid of being dismissed by the Centre.

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