NEW DELHI: Four well-known lawyers – Dushyant Dave, Prashant Bhushan, Colin Gonsalves and H S Phoolka – on Tuesday did a vanishing act before the Supreme Court less than 24 hours after promising to get back with the response of farmer unions on their willingness to appear before the proposed committee on farm laws.
Bhushan, Gonsalves and Phoolka had told a bench headed by CJI S A Bobde on Monday that Dave was leading the quartet and would apprise the SC about the views of the farm unions which had engaged him as counsel. Dave, who had initially informed the court that the farmers would not hold a tractor rally on the Republic Day, had sought time till Tuesday for taking instructions from the farmers.
None of the four logged in to the video-conference hearing in virtual court number 1 till the end of the nearly one and half-hour long proceedings on Tuesday. It was then the turn of the CJI to vent his anguish at the lack of courtesy on the part of four seasoned lawyers who, it was felt, could at least appear before the court, as promised, and apprise it about the stand of the unions.
“Members of the bar, who are first officers of the court and then the counsel for their clients, are expected to show some loyalty (towards the court). You will appear before the court when it suits you and not come if it does not suit you. You cannot do that,” the CJI said.
The CJI recalled that on Monday Dave fairly said that his clients are not going to hold tractor marches. “It is then we said why can’t the farmers not appear before the committee when they have agreed to meet representatives of the government. If you (farmers) want to solve the problem, you can do it by talking and negotiating. Otherwise, you can go on agitating for years,” he said.
Appearing for a citizen of Delhi who wants roadblocks due to protests to be cleared and farmers be given a designated place, senior advocate Harish Salve said, “Nobody should use the judicial process to achieve a political objectives. They thought there would be suspension of farm laws and at the same time they would not participate in the committee proceedings. What the Supreme Court had said is that it will keep implementation of the laws in abeyance to build confidence and make the process move forward through the committee.”
The CJI-led bench said, “We want to solve the problem (arising from the enactment of the farm laws). We want to know the ground situation. That is why the committee is being set up. It will talk to all stakeholders and give us a report. Based on the report, we will proceed (to hear the petitions) and determine the validity of the report.”
“The government has a vested interest to say that it will support the farm laws. So someone sensible should go before the committee and tell his grievances against farm laws,” the CJI said.