Setback for Punjab as SC strikes down law axing water-sharing

Setback for Punjab as SC strikes down law axing water-sharing

Senior Advocates Ram Jethmalani and RS Suri appeared for Punjab while Shyam Divan and Jagdip Dhankar appeared for Haryana.

At the initiative of the then Congress government headed by Captain Amarinder Singh, the Punjab Assembly had unanimously passed the law terminating all the agreements with the states of Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Chandigarh and Delhi on the sharing of Sutlej-Yamuna river water.

Describing the SYL judgement by the apex court as a "major blow to the people of Punjab", Amarinder said here he had always fought for their legitimate right on this issue and continues to stand by them at this critical juncture in the state s journey.

The Bench led by Justice Anil R Dave, reading out the verdict in the court, said that all the questions referred to it by the President have been answered in negative.

Haryana had filed an application against the move to return the land acquired for the SYL canal, pleading for its hearing along with the Presidential reference on the 2004 PTA Act under which Punjab had unilaterally terminated its inter-state river water sharing agreements.

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A five-judge Constitution Bench answered the Presidential Reference, opining that Punjab cannot terminate the agreement unilaterally and its 2004 Act was hence unconstitutional.

A five-judge constitution bench was heading this case and ruled on the validity of a law in 2004 enacted by Punjab.

Haryana, which has a BJP government since October 2014, is awaiting the apex court verdict on the water sharing issue. Amarinder Singh, the party's chief ministerial candidate, said he will resign as MP.

The Parkash Singh Badal government had 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.

Punjab government has called an emergency meeting today to discuss the situation. Punjab has a Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance government since 2007.