The Haryana government is likely to file an interlocutory application (IA) on Thursday before the Constitution bench of the Supreme Court, seeking orders to restrain the Punjab government from enacting a law by which the land acquired for the construction of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal will go back to the original owners.
The state government will also seek the appointment of a receiver to take custody of the SYL land, besides directions for maintaining status quo. The Punjab assembly on March 14 passed a the Punjab SYL Canal (Rehabilitation and Re-vesting of Proprietary Rights) Bill, 2016, for this purpose. The Bill is waiting assent from governor Kaptan Singh Solanki, who holds the dual charge of Haryana.
The five member Constitution bench headed by justice Anil R Dave is hearing the Presidential reference on the validity of the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act enacted in July 2004 to annul all inter-state agreements relating to the sharing of Ravi-Beas waters, including the December 1981 tripartite agreement signed by the chief ministers of Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan.
Sources said the interlocutory application to be moved before the Constitution bench on Thursday will also seek the appointment of a receiver, preferably a central government entity, to take custody of the SYL land. Haryana will take a stand before the Constitution bench that Punjab’s move to enact a legislation is contemptuous of apex court’s orders of June 4, 2004, whereby the Supreme Court had directed the Union government to mobilise a central agency to take control of the canal works from Punjab within a month from June 4, 2004; and that Punjab must hand over the works to the central agency within two weeks thereafter. The apex court had also directed that an empowered committee be set up within four weeks to coordinate and facilitate the early implementation of the decree, and representatives of both Haryana and Punjab be made part of it.
“The construction of the remaining portion of the SYL canal, including the survey; preparation of detailed estimates, and other preparatory works such as repair, desilting, clearance of vegetation etc., are to be executed and completed by the central agency within a time that the committee will determine. The Centre and the Punjab government should provide adequate security to the central agency staff,” the apex court had ruled.
“We conclude this chapter with a reminder to Punjab that great states have a temper superior to that of private litigants and it is to be hoped that enough has been decided for patriotism, the fraternity of the Union, and mutual consideration to bring it to an end,” the Supreme Court had said.