SC notices to Centre, 6 states
on SYL issue
New Delhi, August 2
A Constitution Bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) R.C. Lahoti, while issuing notices to the Union Government, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir, directed the Centre and Chief Secretaries of these states to submit affidavits with “statements of facts and law” applicable to the matter within six weeks.
The Bench having Mr Justice N. Santosh Hegde, Mr Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, Ms Justice Ruma Pal and Mr Justice S.N. Variava as the other judges, declined to comment on the plea of Attorney-General Milon Banerji, seeking issuance of a public notice on the Presidential reference as had been done by the court in the Ayodhya matter.
After giving details of the circumstances which prompted the UPA government to make the four-point Presidential reference on the validity of the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004, abrogating all water accords with neighbouring states, Mr Banerji made a plea for a public notice.
Issuance of a public notice in a case of wide public interest entitles any person or organisation to become a party to it.
When Mr Banerji made a reference to the Indo-Pak Water Treaty in the context of the Act passed by Punjab, the court refused to take note of it, saying that any argument on any question of fact or law would be heard only after receiving the replies from the Centre and the states concerned.
“There is no use of arguments at this stage as notices have to be issued” the CJI observed.
The four-point reference made by President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on July 22, has sought the court’s opinion on
(i) Whether the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004, and the provisions thereof are in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
(ii) Whether the Act and its provisions are in accordance with the provisions of Section 14 of the Inter-State Water Dispute Act, 1956, Section 78 of the Punjab Re-organisation Act, 1966, and the notification of March 24, 1976, issued there under.
(iii) Whether the State of Punjab has validly terminated the agreement of December 31, 1981, and all other agreements relating to the Ravi-Beas waters and is discharged from its obligation under the said agreements.
(iv) Whether in view of the provisions of the Act passed by Punjab on July 12 it is discharged from its obligation flowing from the Supreme Court judgements of January 15, 2002, and of June 4, 2004, in the SYL case.
While terminating the accords with neighbouring states the Punjab Government had taken a stand that the agreement of December 31, 1981, and other agreements relating to the Ravi-Beas waters had become difficult to be honoured by it under the changed circumstances as it did not have any surplus water to share with other states.
Punjab had also raised the questions over the validity of Section 14 of the Inter-State Water Dispute Act, 1956, Section 78 of the Punjab Re-organisation Act, 1966, which deals with the sharing of waters with Haryana.