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Sacked Delhi lawyer says stand taken in SC had Delhi Jal Board’s nod

Claims Kejriwal did a U-turn due to political considerations; Delhi govt had taken identical stand in 2006 through an affidavit the Supreme Court

punjab Updated: Apr 23, 2016 19:33 IST
Pawan Sharma
Pawan Sharma
Hindustan Times
Now filled, the SYL canal earlier where former prime minister late Indra Gandhi laid its foundation stone at Kapuri village near Ghanour Town in Patiala District.
Now filled, the SYL canal earlier where former prime minister late Indra Gandhi laid its foundation stone at Kapuri village near Ghanour Town in Patiala District. (HT file photo)

Fired by the Arvind Kejriwal government for taking a pro-Haryana and anti-Punjab stance on the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal dispute, Delhi government’s former advocate Suresh Tripathy on Wednesday said Delhi Jal Board (DJB) chief executive officer (CEO) had approved the contentious submissions placed before the Supreme Court.

“I will place the evidence before the constitution bench on Friday to prove that I had given the written submissions on behalf of the government of Delhi after routing them through the Delhi Jal Board CEO. It is bogus and absurd to say that the submissions were not approved by the competent authority, the CEO,” the lawyer, who was sacked as the Delhi government counsel, told Hindustan Times over telephone.

Read more: SYL canal: AAP sacks lawyer for siding with Haryana against Punjab in SC

The hot-button water dispute is before the apex court which is holding hearings on the Presidential reference about the validity of the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004.

After backing Haryana and blaming the advocate for taking anti-Punjab stance, the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has told the Supreme Court that it will file a fresh affidavit opposing Haryana on the SYL canal.

This flip-flop by the Kejriwal government has given a much-needed ammunition to the ruling Akali Dal which considers the rookie AAP as the main threat in the run-up to Punjab assembly elections due in January.

Read more: Kejriwal against SYL canal: ‘Punjab has no spare water’

The eight-page written submissions filed “by and on behalf of government of NCT Delhi,” reads: “Act of Punjab is outright negation of the principle of our Preamble of the Constitution…It is inherently divisive and incompatible with the unity and integrity of the nation…such agreements would be inconsistent with the basic feature of federalism and would lead to national disunity…”

“The act of Punjab,” the Delhi government had said, “if sustained as lawful would set a dangerous and unhealthy precedent…Punjab does not have legislative competence to make law with respect to inter-state agreement….”

Read more: Affidavit favouring SYL: Sukhbir accuses Kejriwal of double standards

Tripathy said his submissions in question were also in tune with the 2006 affidavit of then Delhi chief secretary filed in the apex court. “But the Delhi government, due to impending Punjab elections, can go to any extent now,” Tripathy said, pointing out that what he had filed was “written submissions” and not “affidavit”.

Everybody in the DJB, he said, knew about the stand being taken through the submissions.

“Now, what Kejriwal is saying is false. Day before filing the submissions, I had sent the document through mail (April 7 at 5pm) to the DJB member RS Tyagi with a request to forward this to CEO Keshav Chandra,” the advocate said.

As Punjab raised heat and dust over Delhi government’s stand soon after court hearing on April 8, the advocate along with the jal board CEO and member were summoned by the Kejriwal government to the secretariat for a meeting.

“During the meeting, water minister Kapil Mishra forced the CEO to disown the submissions. The DJB member had forwarded the mail to the CEO. Both had seen my mail. In fact, the day before the submissions, Haryana knew about Delhi’s stand and had released more water to the national capital. Kejriwal’s move to disown the submissions was guided by political compulsions,” Tripathy said, describing his sacking by the Kejriwal government as “dangerous and sad development.”

AAP has always supported Punjab: Sanjay Singh

AAP national spokesman and in-charge of Punjab party affairs Sanjay Singh on Wednesday reiterated in response to a media question on the SYL canal issue that the party has always been supporting the cause of Punjab and would continue to do so in future.

From left: AAP leaders Sucha Singh Chhotepur, Ashish Khetan, Kanwar Sandhu, Sanjay Singh and Bhagwant Maan at a press conference in Chandigarh on Wednesday. (Karun Sharma/HT )

“I will say it a thousand times that the AAP is completely against the construction of the SYL canal as Punjab has no water to spare,” he said. “The Congress was the architect of the SYL canal by laying its foundation stone and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) was instrumental in its construction. Both the Congress and the SAD are deliberately blaming the AAP for the SYL only to avert people’s attention and are not serious to resolve the issue for once and for all. Though the AAP has never been in the picture on the SYL issue, it will never let these two political parties play petty politics on Punjab river waters and would continue to safeguard Punjab’s interest,” he said.