No smooth sailing for state Bill to de-notify land for SYL canal

  • Pawan Sharma, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Mar 14, 2016 09:39 IST
Under Article 200 of the Constitution, the governor can refuse assent to the Bill and reserve the legislation for consideration of the President. (HT Photo)

Punjab’s ground-altering legislation likely to be passed by the Vidhan Sabha on Monday to de-notify the entire land acquired for Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal has the potential to run into administrative and legal tangles once the Bill is presented to the governor for assent.

Under Article 200 of the Constitution, the governor can refuse assent to the Bill and reserve the legislation for consideration of the President.

In case governor Kaptan Singh Solanki refers the Bill to the President, this move will have potential to put in deep freeze the Punjab’s contentious legislation that strikes at the root of the SYL canal dispute with Haryana, ahead of assembly elections.

Frontline Punjab bureaucrats and legal advisers on Sunday gave final touches to the contours of the ‘Punjab Sutlej- Yamuna Link Canal (Rehabilitation and Re-vesting of Proprietary Rights) Bill-2016,’ which in all probability will be introduced in the Vidhan Sabha on Monday. The tricky terms and conditions of implementing the law will be notified later separately, government sources say.

After de-notifying the acquisition notification, the Parkash Singh Badal-led government will return the entire 5,376-acre land to the original owners.

While this latest SYL gambit of Punjab gover nment on river water-sharing with Haryana has already generated a political temperature in the neighbouring state, a piquant situation is set to arise before governor Kaptan Singh Solanki, who is holding twin charge of Haryana as well as Punjab, once he receives the Bill for assent.

In a clear indication that he may put Punjab’s Bill on SYL canal under legal scrutiny before giving assent became apparent when Solanki on Saturday assured a delegation led by Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar that he would first legally examine the Punjab legislation.

The stand taken by the governor on Punjab’s Bill will be significant politically as the spirit of the legislation is against the interests of Haryana, which has been demanding its share in Ravi-Beas river waters. Solanki’s moves will be watched through the political prism as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is in power in Haryana, while BJP is a coalition partner of the Akali Dal in Punjab. And, Akali Dal is a constituent of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) which is in power at the Centre.

“Even as governor Solanki is holding dual charge, there is no conflict of interest for him even if Haryana and Punjab are quarrelling with each other on river waters. Legally, the governor can delay giving assent to the Punjab Bill by raising a query or referring the legislation to the President,” a senior lawyer said.

Ever since the tenure of then Punjab governor Shivraj Patil ended in January last year, Solanki has been holding the additional charge of Punjab.

It is for the first time that the Centre has not appointed a full-fledged Punjab governor for such a long time.

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