On 20th October 2020, the Punjab legislative assembly tabled 4 farming bills and a resolution against the 3 central contentious farming bills to safeguard the Minimum Support Price (MSP) and Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) and urged the central government to dismiss contentious farming bills, now enacted. State Government argued that Agriculture, Agricultural Market, and land are state affairs. The Punjab Government in its bills has mentioned maintaining the status of the Punjab Agricultural Produce Markets Act, 1961 as of before 4 June 2020. The opposition parties in Punjab assembly AAP, Lok Insaf Party, Shiromani Akali Dal supported the bills while BJP has not cleared its stance on these bills as both BJP MLAs were absent from the assembly when the bills were passed.
The bills passed by the Punjab Assembly include:
1- The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services (Special Provisions and Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2020
The Bill amends Sections 1(2), Sections 19 and 20 of the Centre’s Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020
This bill ensures MSP to the farmers for the sale of Wheat and paddy. According to this bill sale of wheat and paddy will only be valid if the buyers pay the price equivalent to or more than the MSP fixed by the central government. If anyone purchases wheat or paddy below the MSP then he shall be punished with 3 yrs of imprisonment and a fine.
- The Farmer’s Produce and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Special Provisions and Punjab Amendment Bill 2020
This bill also amends Sections 1(2), 14, and 15 of the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 to ensure that sale or purchase of paddy or wheat in the State is invalid below the MSP. It also declares the punishment for the harassment of farmers or the purchase of Farmers’ produce at a lesser price. The purchase and sale of farming goods outside the APMC will be according to the rules of APMC.
3- The Essential Commodities (Special Provisions and Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2020
This Bill amends the Centre’s The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 by improvising Section 1(2) and Section 3(1A) of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955. It ensures status quo ante as of 4th June 2020 concerning the implementation of the Central Act namely, The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
This bill protects consumers from black marketing and hoarding. While the central act handovers limitless powers to businessman and corporate houses to stock while this bill ensures the state of Punjab to order or prohibit or regulate the production, supply, distribution, and imposing stock limits under extraordinary situations, which include price rise, natural calamity, famine or any other situation.
4- The Code of Civil Procedure (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2020
This bill was introduced to provide a provision for exemption of agricultural land not exceeding 2.5 acres from Section 60 of The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, which provides for attachment or decree of varied properties, moveable as well as immovable. Proviso-b to the present Section states that the properties of the farmers such as cattle, implements, cowsheds, etc. would be exempted from attachment, but as of date agriculture land can be attached.
All these bills negating Centre’s farm laws passed in the state assembly but they still need President’s approval.