As Jats agitating for OBC status threatened to stop water and petroleum supply to Delhi, the Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the governments of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan to ensure that supply of essential commodities to the capital was not disrupted.
A bench of Justice Altmas Kabir and Justice Dalveer Bhandari passed the order after the Delhi government standing counsel Najmi Waziri submitted during an urgent hearing that Delhi could face disruption of supplies of essential commodities such as water, milk, vegetables and petroleum products. "It is needless to say that the state governments shall take every step in this regard," the bench said.
Observing that disruption of essential supplies or goods and amenities will cause "severe problems and hardship for the inhabitants of Delhi," the SC gave liberty to the three states to take the help of the central government, if needed, to implement its order.
While agreeing that citizens have right to protest, the SC emphasised that "such right does not extend to disruption of free movement of people and supply of essential goods and services to the detriment of the interest of the public at large."
The court directed that a copy of its order be served on the chief secretaries, resident commissioners and standing counsels of the three states in question for necessary action.
Waziri, who argued the petitions of Delhi Jal Board and Indian Oil Corporation, told the court that the agitators had threatened to disrupt supply of water to Delhi through the Upper Ganga Canal via Murad Nagar regulator in Ghaziabad and from the Western Yamuna Canal via Munak regulator in Sonepat of Haryana.
As Waziri drew the court's attention to the agitators' threat to disrupt supply of petroleum products from the refineries at Panipat and Mathura, it ordered the three state governments to ensure that operation of the two refineries and transportation of petroleum products was not affected. The bench took strong exception to Uttar Pradesh and Haryana chief ministers' "support" to the Jat agitation. "We are constrained to pass the order having regard to the statements made by the highest functionaries of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh indicating support to the agitation," it said.