Supreme court orders on SYL:The dignity of the decree passed by court must be maintained


New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday reiterated that its order for construction of Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal should be implemented.”The dignity of the decree passed by this court must be maintained…. Whether the matter is settled or not settled, we are not bothered about it…we are bothered about implementation of our order,” a Bench headed by Justice PC Ghose said.

SYL canal at a village on Chandigarh road, near Banur

The court’s comments came after Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar told the Bench that there have been talks between Punjab and Haryana in the capital on April 20 but the outcome of the negotiations wasn’t known.

There has also been meeting of the two chief ministers with the Prime Minister, Kumar told the Bench.On behalf of Haryana, senior counsel Shyam Divan said the state had to wait for several years for the decree. He expressed the apprension that people would lose faith in the judicial system if there was further delay in execution of the decree passed in 2002.Senior counsel RS Suri, who represented Punjab and Advocate General Atul Nanda said the decree was not executable and it would require time to argue the matter.The bench posted the matter for hearing on July 11, after the summer vacation.

Justice Ghose, who is retiring on May 27, said: “My brother will be there”, alluding to Justice Amitava Roy — the other judge on the Bench.The Supreme Court had on April 12 asked the Centre, Punjab and Haryana to finish their talks on the construction of the SYL canal “as soon as it can be”, saying it will decide the matter if negotiations remained unresolved.“If it is settled, it’s okay. If it’s not, we will hear and decide it,” the Bench had said, adding, “We do not want to shut the door to an amicable solution.””Try to finish it as soon as it can be. It is an execution of a decree passed by this court. It is the duty of every citizen to obey it,” Justice Ghose had said.

Amid continued standoff between Punjab and Haryana over construction of the Sutlej-SYL canal, the Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had told the top court on April 10 that it had invited both the states for negotiations to find an amicable solution to the contentious issue.

Punjab — which had in February said the canal land returned to the landowners could not be recovered — has been requesting the SC to ask the Centre to try to bring the states to the negotiating table.

Read Also: SYL Row: Punjab BJP extends support to Congress govt

The top court had in November 2016 declared the law passed by the Punjab Assembly in 2004 terminating the SYL canal water-sharing agreement with neighbouring states as unconstitutional. It had answered in the negative all four questions referred to it in a Presidential Reference.


Loot of Punjab Waters – the (so-called) Agreements:

The Central Governments of India made ‘extra-legal and extra-constitutional arrangements’ (as these arrangements were made in violation of relevant provisions of the Indian Constitution) to allocate Punjab’s river waters to the afore-mentioned non-riparian states. These arrangements include the so-called agreements of 1955, 1976 (notification), 1981 (Indira Award) and 1986 (Eradi Tribunal). The Indian state used Section 14 of Interstate River Water Dispute Act, 1956 which was not applicable on Punjab rivers as Satluj, Beas or Ravi does not pass through Haryana, Rajasthan or Delhi. Similarly, section 78, 79 and 80 of Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966 – under which Bhakhra Beas Management Board was constituted and other arrangements to loot the river water of Punjab were made – violate the Constitutional scheme by allowing the Centre’s interference in State’s exclusive subjects.

Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, Section 5 of PTAA and Punjab’s riparian rights:

The Punjab Termination of Agreements Act (PTAA) 2004 could be termed as a “murder” of Punjab’s riparian rights by none else than the Punjab’s own state assembly and elected representatives.

On 12 July, 2004 the Punjab Assembly passed PTAA in attempt to neutralise the Indian Supreme Court’s directions to complete the construction of controversial Satluj Yamuna Link (SYL) canal before 14 July, 2004. The law was moved by a Congress Government led by Captain Amarinder Singh and it was supported by the opposition Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) and the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), thus this, the PTAA was passed unanimously by the state assembly.

Though the enactment of the PTAA had paused the issue of construction of the SYL for the time being, this law has done a larger damage. Before the enactment of the PTAA the river waters of Punjab were being robbed through illegal arrangements but since the adoption of Section 5 of the PTAA, illegal allocation of Punjab’s river water to non-riparian states has received the stamp of the Punjab Assembly.

It may appear strange, but it’s true, that in order to prevent construction of the SYL (that is supposed to carry out 34 LAF river water), the Punjab Assembly accepted and legalised the distribution of a major share of Punjab’s river water (around 147.5 LAF) to the non-riparian states of Rajasthan (86 LAF), Haryana (59.5 LAF) and Delhi (2 LAF).

It should also be noted here that according to Punjab’s ex-chief engineer G. S. Dhillon, Haryana is already getting 18 LAF (out of 34 LAF) by additional discharge from the Bhakhra Bias Management Board (BBMB) through the Bhakhra Canal. Mr. Dhillon maintains that the Hansi Butana Link canal project of Haryana aims at taking away the remaining 16 LAF (SYL) water (though extra discharge in Bhakhra Main Line to which Hansi Buntana will link at Samana area of Punjab) even without actual construction of the SYL canal.

The PTAA was declared ultra vires of the Constitution by the Supreme court of India on November 10, 2016.


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