Home Fashion Vogue Override Centre’s farm laws, Sonia asks Congress-ruled states

Override Centre’s farm laws, Sonia asks Congress-ruled states

NEW DELHI: In an attempt to lend a sharper edge to its opposition to the new farm laws, Congress has directed states where the party is in office to override the legislations by resorting to a key constitutional provision that allows states to frame their own laws on subjects on the concurrent list under certain circumstances. Party president Sonia Gandhi on Monday asked states to explore passing laws that will negate the provisions of the central farm laws, under Article 254(2) of the Constitution, party general secretary K C Venugopal said. Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said there was a precedent to states resorting to the said constitutional provision to overrule central laws. “As FM, Arun Jaitley got states to resort to Article 254(2) of the Constitution to override provisions of the 2013 land acquisition law, a law he had fully supported as LoP in RS,” Ramesh tweeted. There were, however, differences within Congress with some party strategists saying approaching the Supreme Court against the farm laws may not be useful. Their fear is that if the laws are upheld by the apex court, it could take the sting out of the controversy about jurisdictional issue of the Centre encroaching on states’ turf. But a growing number of petitions are being filed in the SC with some represented by Congress lawyers. Ramesh’s reference was to the late BJP leader’s view that state governments could decide on exemptions from the consent and social impact clauses of the UPA-era land acquisition law in areas like national security, rural infrastructure, affordable housing, industrial corridors and infrastructure projects. This came about after Narendra Modi government’s attempts to dilute the law after it assumed office in 2014 ran into strong political opposition. At the time, the Modi government had said easing “impractical” land acquisition had been the demand of most CMs but Congress opposed the move. With the majority the opposition then enjoyed in Rajya Sabha, the bill was stuck. There is, however, a key provision in states being able to pass a law that negates a central Act on a concurrent list subject — it must receive the assent of the President, something Jaitley had pointed out. Congress discussed the legality of the move with in-house lawyer Abhishek Singhvi before issuing the direction to chief ministers. Senior Congressmen, however, also pointed to the presidential assent rider, saying this was a crucial proviso in states framing their laws under Article 254(2). They said any state law overruling the central farm laws was bound to be rejected by the home ministry in its advice to the President. Sources said despite the inevitability of any laws passed by Congress-ruled states being blocked by the Centre, the party strategy was sound. They said the idea behind the direction to chief ministers was more to make a political point by further stressing the opposition to central farm laws recently passed by Parliament, thereby aligning the party further closely with farmers. According to a senior leader, the row is striking a chord with the farming community across the country and measures are required to keep hammering home the point about the “negative provisions” of the central laws. The land bill controversy in 2014-15 saw the UPA legislation being criticised for poor drafting and conditions that made land acquisition very difficult.
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