The think-tank of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has decided that if the Supreme Court (SC) verdict on the contentious Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal dispute is “anti-Punjab”, the state cabinet will pass a resolution to stop the chief secretary from implementing the order, it is learnt.
The apex court is likely to pronounce its order on the 2004 presidential reference on water-sharing row between Punjab and Haryana on Thursday.
To thrash out a legal and political strategy, the SAD held an emergency meeting of its core group on Wednesday night. The meeting that lasted nearly three hours was chaired by chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.
Top SAD sources say if the verdict goes against the state, the cabinet will meet at 6 pm on Thursday and pass a resolution, stopping the chief secretary from executing the court order.
The government understands that to implement its order, the SC will issue the necessary direction to the chief secretary.
Punjab advocate general Ashok Aggarwal was tasked to prepare a draft that will be passed by the cabinet in the form of a resolution to refrain the chief secretary from executing the SC verdict.
The strategy of the SAD is to buy time and, in the meantime, escalate the legal tussle over the court order.
A SAD source present in the meeting said: “Not implementing the court order will be a contempt of the court. But the CS, as per the law, is also bound to follow the cabinet direction. This move may lead to another round of litigation. The government will not resign if the verdict is against Punjab’s interests. The CM has decided to fight it out legally and politically”.
Badal, who has termed the construction of the SYL canal as a ‘death warrant’ for the entire state, reportedly said in the meeting that he had made it clear to the BJP leadership also that he will not accept any anti-Punjab judicial verdict on the water dispute with neighbouring states.
In another indication of confrontation, the SAD in a statement said that any agency trying to usurp Punjab’s share in river waters will not be allowed to enter Punjab. “It was decided that the SAD will not allow even a drop of river waters of Punjab to go to any other state,” SAD said.
The party also accused late prime minister Indira Gandhi and state Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh, who had invited her to lay the foundation of SYL canal at Kapoori, of “robbing the river waters of the state.”