States Should Settle Dispute on SYL By Themselves: Centre to SC

New Delhi
States Should Settle Dispute on SYL By Themselves: Centre to SC

The Centre today told the Supreme Court that it is maintaining its stand of 2004 taken on the sensitive Satluj-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal case and wants that both Punjab and Haryana should settle their disputes on the matter by themselves.

"In 2004, the then Attorney General appearing on behalf central government has said that he does not wish to make any statement nor is willing to file any affidavit. We are maintaining the same stand on the reference and want that states should settle their dispute by themselves," Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar told a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Justice A R Dave.

The bench, also comprising Justices P C Ghose, Shiva Kirti Singh, A K Goel and Amitava Roy, which is hearing the Presidential reference on SYL dispute, reserved its verdict on the issue and asked the parties to file the written submissions, if any, in seven days.

The Solicitor General further said that if Punjab has terminated the agreements, then it clearly means it does not want to provide water to other states.

To this, the bench said that the argument of Punjab is that unless it is determined, they would continue with the existing arrangements.

"If status quo is maintained then and what will the Tribunal decide and what Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and other states are getting today and what they were getting earlier were same, then there is no need for adjudication of the matter. If agreements are terminated, then no Tribunal is required to adjudicate the matters," the SG said.

The Centre had in past few hearings had also said that it was not taking sides and was maintaining a neutral stand.

During the ongoing hearing when Punjab Assembly had passed a law to return the land acquired on its side for the construction of SYL canal, Haryana government had approached the apex court which had directed status quo.

It had also appointed appointed the Union Home Secretary and Punjab's Chief Secretary and Director General of Police (DGP) as the 'joint receiver' of land and other property meant for SYL canal.

Senior advocate Indira Jaisingh, appearing for Delhi government, told the bench they want to withdraw the earlier affidavit filed in the court.

"Our stand is that Delhi's right of its share of water be protected under the law. All existing rights be protected. For us, the matter of concern is that the allocation of water should be protected. We are not going into the controversy of Punjab and Haryana over the canal," she said.

Earlier, on April 25, a lawyer, who was sacked for making the stand of Delhi Government allegedly without instruction on SYL canal case, had told the apex court that Aam Aadmi Party government's ground for his removal was a "blatant lie".

Delhi government had earlier replaced advocate Suresh Tripathy as its standing counsel in the apex court for filing the written submission in the SYL matter claiming that the stand of supporting Haryana in the dispute was taken by him without any instruction.

Isolated by other stakeholders over the dispute over water-sharing of SYL canal, Punjab had earlier said that the apex court was not bound to answer the Presidential reference made at the instance of the Centre which had no power to resolve the dispute.

The Parkash Singh Badal government has submitted that a fresh Tribunal be set up to resolve all disputes with other states including Haryana on all aspects, which will also cover the riparian rights and the dwindling flow of water.

It had said that a fresh Tribunal was sought in 2003, about 18 months before the 2004 law, to review the 1981 Longowal Accord on river water-sharing in view of depleting flow and other changed circumstances.

The water-sharing agreement was between Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir.

On Haryana's demand, Punjab has said that after its creation in 1966, it had become a riparian state of the Yamuna and was getting its share. At the same time, it had lost its riparian rights after it was carved out of Punjab.

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