Taking a serious note of the committee formed to resolve the Centre-farmer deadlock being called biased, the Supreme Court on Wednesday told farmers that no one can malign the committee members and the panel would proceed with or without their participation.
After advocates Dushyant Dave and Prashant Bhushan representing farmers told their decision to not appear before the committee, a bench headed by CJI S A Bobde said, "We can't force you to appear before the committee, it's totally your decision. But you can't malign people like this and cast aspersions on them and the court. Why do you need to brand people like this? How can you play with people's reputation like this? We have serious objections to them being called biased."
Earlier, farmer leaders had raised objections over the members of the Supreme Court-appointed committee, as all the members were already in favour of farm-laws.
The top court also made clear that the committee has been asked to submit the report and it will continue to work with or without the protesting farmers' participation.
Hearing a plea filed by farmers' group Bhartiya Kisan Union Lokshakti and Kisan Mahapanchayat asking to reconstitute the panel, Justice Bobde said, "How you decided that all the panel members are disqualified? How do you come to that conclusion? These panel members are the brilliant minds of the agricultural fields and are experts and if you do not want to appear, then don't."
Clarifying over the 'bias' comment, the court said that the committee has no power to take decisions, and was formed only to listen to the concerns of farmers, The Times of India reported.
Earlier, on January 14, Bhupinder Singh Mann, chief of the All India Kisan Coordination Committee and one of the committee members, recused himself from the panel. After which attorney general KK Venugopal, who appeared for the Central government, was asked to respond over the plea of the vacancy in committee.
The apex court also refused to entertain an application by Delhi Police to restrain farmers from taking out a rally on Republic Day but said that if the farmers get permission to take out the rally, then a promise should be made that the rally will be peaceful.
"You are the authority, the executive of the country, and you decide whatever action should be taken. We will see later," the court said.
Meanwhile, the farmers have begun the preparations for the tractor parade on the outer ring road on Republic Day. It has been told by the farmers that their protest would be disciplined and peaceful.