The Centre today told the Supreme Court that it was maintaining a “neutral” stand in the tussle between Punjab and Haryana over sharing of water through the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal.
“We are neutral. We cannot take a stand,” Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar told a five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice A R Dave which conducting a hearing on the Presidential Reference pertaining to Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004.
The Solicitor Generals statement came after Punjab Government, through its senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan, said the Centre has to make its stand clear and it cannot leave the matter upto the states to be decided.
Taking note of the SGs statement, the bench, which also comprised Justices P C Ghose, Shiva Kirti Singh, A K Goel and Amitava Roy, said “if they knew the answer, why would they have made the reference.”
Dhavan said it was not just an issue of water sharing and the entire reference involved a question of policy.
On March 14, the Centre had said in the hearing on Presidential Reference that “the Centre will not take any side”.
On the same day, Punjab Assembly had passed the bill against construction of contentious SYL canal providing for transfer of proprietary rights back to the land owners free of cost.
However on March 17, the apex court directed maintenance of status quo on land meant for SYL canal, after Haryana alleged that attempts have been made to alter its use by levelling it.
The apex court in its interim order had also appointed Union Home Secretary and Punjabs Chief Secretary and Director General of Police (DGP) as the joint receiver of land and other property meant for the SYL canal till further order.
The legislation — Punjab Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal (Rehabilitation and Re-vesting of Proprietary Rights) Bill, paves way for denotifying 5,300 acres of land acquired in Punjab side for 122 km SYL canal of which 92 km falls in Haryana side.
( Source – PTI )