India's Supreme Court yesterday ordered an indefinite stay on the implementation of new agricultural laws that have triggered widespread protest from farmers, saying it wanted to protect farmers and would hear their objections.
For more than a month, tens of thousands of farmers have camped on the outskirts of New Delhi, the capital, to protest against reform measures that they say benefit large private buyers and harm growers.
Chief Justice Sharad Bobde told a hearing the Supreme Court would set up a panel to hear the farmers' grievances.
"We have the power to make a committee and the committee can give us the report," he said, ordering the stay for an undisclosed period on the laws passed in September. "We will protect farmers."
Farm leaders said their demand for a full repeal of the laws remained unchanged. They thanked the top court for positive review.
India says the laws aim to modernise an antiquated farming system, bedevilled by wastage and bottlenecks in the supply chain. But farm leaders say the reforms are an attempt to erode a longstanding mechanism that ensures farmers a minimum support price for their crops.
The government has said there was no question of dropping the reforms and eight rounds of talks have failed to find common ground. The two sides are set to meet again on Friday.