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Posted at: Dec 15, 2016, 8:54 PM; last updated: Dec 15, 2016, 8:54 PM (IST)

No fresh, deliberate damage to SYL canal: Centre to SC

3 court receivers file status reports; next hearing in third week of Jan
No fresh, deliberate damage to SYL canal: Centre to SC
The bench is hearing Haryana’s plea for completion of the SYL canal on the Punjab side. — File photo

R Sedhuraman

Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, December 15

The three court receivers of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal have filed their reports in the Supreme Court on the ground situation. A bench comprising Justices PC Ghose and Amitava Roy today said the reports would be circulated to Punjab, Haryana and the Centre and posted the next hearing for the third week of January 2017.

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Appearing for Punjab, senior advocate Ram Jethmalani pleaded for slating the hearing after the assembly elections in the state. “After the elections, everybody will become reasonable,” he said. The bench, however, posted the case for next month.

The Union Home Secretary, one of the receivers, said in his report that a team of officials visited 10 sites along the SYL canal in Punjab and found no fresh or deliberate damage to the canal. The other two receivers, Punjab police chief and Chief Secretary, submitted their reports in sealed covers.

Appearing for Haryana, senior counsel Jagdeep Dhankar wanted to know what did the Union Home Secretary mean by saying “no signs of any deliberate damage” in two of the fresh sites visited by the official team. The other eight sites had been visited by officials on earlier occasions and during the latest visit found no further damage to the canal.

The bench is hearing Haryana’s plea for completion of the SYL canal on the Punjab side to enable it to take its share of Ravi and Beas river waters.

On November 30, the SC ordered “status quo” on the canal land and issued notice to Punjab and the Centre. The court also appointed the court receivers and asked them to file a status report.

The bench had then clarified that “for the present, nobody in possession of the lands, etc., in question as on today would be dispossessed before the next date of hearing”.

Haryana filed the SYL plea after the Punjab government returned the acquired land to the farmers through a notification issued on November 16, 2016 on the strength of a resolution passed in the Assembly and a Cabinet decision.

Haryana has questioned the validity of the November 16 notification ignoring the judgment by a 5-member Constitution Bench on November 10 holding that Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004, was in violation of the Constitution, the Inter-State Water Disputes Act 1956 and the Punjab Reorganisation Act 1966, besides being against two apex court judgments delivered on January 15, 2002 and June 4, 2004.

After the November 10 SC ruling, the Punjab government de-notified about 5,000 acres of land acquired for the canal while the state assembly adopted a resolution on November 16 for stalling canal work by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) and for demanding charges for river waters.

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