The Centre on Thursday told the Supreme Court that it is maintaining its 2004 stand on the sensitive Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal case and wants that both Punjab and Haryana should settle their disputes on the matter by themselves.
“In 2004, the then attorney general appearing on behalf of the central government had said that he does not wish to make any statement nor is willing to file any affidavit. We are maintaining the same stand on the reference and want that states should settle their dispute by themselves,” solicitor general Ranjit Kumar told a five-judge constitution bench headed by justice AR Dave.
The bench, also comprising justices PC Ghose, Shiva Kirti Singh, AK Goel and Amitava Roy, which is hearing the presidential reference on SYL dispute, reserved its verdict on the issue and asked the parties to file the written submissions, if any, in seven days.
The solicitor general further said that if Punjab has terminated the agreements, then it clearly means it does not want to provide water to other states. To this, the bench said that the argument of Punjab is that unless it is determined, they would continue with the existing arrangements. “If status quo is maintained then and what will the tribunal decide and what Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and other states are getting today and what they were getting earlier were same, then there is no need for adjudication of the matter. If agreements are terminated, then no tribunal is required to adjudicate the matters,” the SG said.
The Centre had in past few hearings also said that it was not taking sides and was maintaining a neutral stand.
During the ongoing hearing when the Punjab assembly had passed a law to return the land acquired on its side for the construction of SYL canal, the Haryana government had approached the apex court which had directed status quo.
Senior advocate Indira Jaisingh, appearing for the Delhi government, told the bench they want to withdraw the earlier affidavit filed in the court. “Our stand is that Delhi’s right of its share of water be protected under the law. All existing rights be protected. For us, the matter of concern is that the allocation of water should be protected. We are not going into the controversy of Punjab and Haryana over the canal,” she said.