Chandigarh: The Supreme Court on Thursday doled out a massive blow to Punjab over the controversial issue of Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, terming the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004 as ‘unconstitutional.’ The five-member SC bench comprising Justices Anil R Dave, PC Ghose, S K Singh, AK Goel and Amitava Roy, made the ruling while answering the Presidential reference sent to the apex court seeking its opinion if the 2004 Act was in consonance with the legal and Constitutional provisions.
The Bench, however, rejected Haryana’s plea for extending the status quo order passed on March 17, 2016, directing Punjab not to notify the law meant for returning about 4,000 acres of land acquired for the construction of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link SYL canal. The agreement is about sharing water with Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi and Chandigarh.
The decision set in motion a kind of political tsunami in poll-bound Punjab with the Congress lawmakers led by their state chief Captain Amarinder Singh deciding to resign from their parliamentarian and legislative positions en masse, while the principal ruling party-Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-reiterating the resolve not to spare any drop of river waters ‘come what may’.
Ironically, the two arch rivals were found accusing each other of the wrong decisions taken in the past, while the Aam Aadmi party (AAP) and other fronts came up with allegations against both the parties. AAP leaders claimed that the Congress and the SAD were equally responsible for the SYL fiasco.
Late on Thursday evening, Punjab Cabinet held a special meeting where it was decided to call a special session on the issue on November 16. While resolving to call on President of India Pranab Mukherjee requesting him not to accept the advice of the Supreme Court, the Cabinet decision said that Punjab does not have a single drop of water to spare.
The Cabinet also held the present PPCC Chief Amarinder Singh responsible for inviting then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to start the digging of the canal at Kapoori in his own Parliamentary constituency of Patiala. On the other hand, Captain Amarinder, in his resignation sent to the Lok Sabha Speaker, stated that it was ‘a mark of protest against the deprivation of the people of my state of the much-needed Sutlej river water.” He also mentioned that the party MLAs have also sent their resignations to the Speaker, Punjab Assembly, and would meet him Friday morning to personally hand over their papers.
Amarinder challenged the AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal to clarify his stand on the SYL issue in the wake of the Supreme Court verdict amid his party seeking the resignations from ruling benches too. However, in reply to that Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal asked: “Why should we run away? This entire resignation drama has been created by the Congress party.”
According to 5-JUDGE APEX COURT BENCH
The Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004 is ‘unconstitutional’ and Punjab could not have taken a ‘unilateral’ decision to terminate the water sharing agreement with Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi and Chandigarh.
SC judgment implies that the 2004 Act was not in consonance with the apex court judgement of 2003 which had mandated the construction of the SYL canal that has been stalled.
SC BENCH felt
The bench headed by Justice A R Dave, which also included Justices P C Ghose, Shiva Kirti Singh, A K Goel and Amitava Roy, was unanimous in holding that all the five questions of Presidential reference have to be answered in the negative.
By the 2004 Act brought by then Congress government led by Captain Amarinder Singh, the state had sought to nullify the SC verdict by stopping the construction of SYL.
The judgment came on the presidential reference of 2004 on the controversy relating to sharing of water from SYL canal by the north Indian states.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice A R Dave, who is demitting office on November 18, had reserved the verdict on May 12.
The bench rejected Haryana’s plea for extending the status quo order passed on March 17, 2016, directing Punjab not to notify the law meant for returning about 4,000 acres of land acquired for the construction of SYL canal.
Khaps warn Punjab
Chandigarh: Haryana Khap leaders have warned Punjab to abide by the Supreme Court’s verdict on SYL canal or face the music. Khap leaders, who were in Chandigarh on Thursday, threatened to disconnect all roads and highways linking Punjab with Haryana and Delhi, if Punjab government failed to honour apex court judgment on SYL canal.
No water for others: Sukhbir
Come what may, we will not allow even a single drop of precious river water of Punjab to go outside the state. The state government is committed to protecting the interest of Punjab because of water being the lifeline of the state.”
Sukhbir Singh Badal, Deputy Chief Minister
Will fight for rights: Captain
I have decided to quit as a member of the 16th Lok Sabha from Amritsar constituency in Punjab with immediate effect as a mark of protest against the deprivation of the people of my state of the much-needed Sutlej river water.”
Captain Amarinder Singh, PPCC president
We will benefit by syl: Khattar
Supreme Court decision paves the way for bringing Haryana’s legitimate share of 3.5 million acre feet (MAF) from surplus Ravi Beas waters to its parched lands through SYL canal. It will ensure more equitable distribution of water in the state.”
Manohar Lal Khattar, Chief Minister, Haryana
AAP against sc opinion: PHoolka
After formation of government, AAP will not allow to implement the Supreme Court’s opinion in Punjab. History is evidence of the fact that the water crisis of Punjab is a creation of then Indira Gandhi led Congress government at the Centre.
H S Phoolka, AAP leader
For more news updates Follow and Like us on Facebook