The new farm laws were- the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, in addition to the two new laws, an amendment was made to the Essential Commodities Act, 1955. In short, had the laws been implemented there would have been an overhauling of the agri-trade and pricing, nature and mechanisms of production (contract farming), and procurement and stocking of food grains, the critical aspects of Indian agriculture which so far have had provisions of protection of farmers’ interests. The farm-laws were seen a major push in the direction to corporatize and open the agriculture to favour the big capital by compromising the interests of the farmers.
The farm laws were first passed by the Union Cabinet as ordinances in June 2020 in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic which is an immediate and emergency legislative measure adopted by the Cabinet to respond to a critical situation in the absence of an ongoing Parliament session. ‘Statement of objects and reasons of the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 (Bill No. 113 of 2020, as Introduced in Lok Sabha.) states, “However, as Parliament was not in session and an urgent legislation was required to be made, the President promulgated the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020 (Ord. 10 of 2020) under clause (1) of article 123 of the Constitution on the 5th day of June, 2020.”[1, emphasis added]. The same was applicable and mentioned in the, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and in the Amendment.
Later, the first two laws were introduced and passed in the Lok Sabha (lower house of Indian Parliament) on September 14 and 17 (2020) respectively and in Rajya Sabha (upper house) by voice vote on September 20, 2020. The Amendment Bill was introduced and passed in Lok Sabha on September 14 and 15 respectively, and in Rajya Sabha on September 22, 2020. The procedure followed in the parliament to pass the Bills was something extraordinary and a never heard one before. The government presented the Ordinances on the floor of the Lok Sabha and since it had the numbers the same were passed. However, the parliamentary convention of physical voting as it was demanded by the opposition members was not allowed instead the voice vote was taken in Rajya Sabha. The opposition accused of government of not following parliamentary norms as it did not have numbers in its favour and staged protest. This led to opposition members of the house walking out and boycotting of the proceedings and sitting on a night long protest outside the House. The President of India gave his assent on the first two laws on September 24 and on the Amendment Bill on September 26. The Central Government on September 27, 2020 promulgated these laws and they were declared to be deemed to have come into force on the June 5, 2020.