Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar welcomed Supreme Court’s decision on Thursday to hold as “unconstitutional” the 2004 law passed by Punjab to terminate the SYL canal water sharing agreement with neighbouring states.
“I welcome the Supreme Court verdict. It is natural justice,” he told reporters here.
In its judgement the apex court made it clear that the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004, was “unconstitutional” and Punjab could not have taken an “unilateral” decision to terminate the water sharing agreement with Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi and Chandigarh.
“The Supreme Court has given its decision on this vital issue after 12 years and it is a result of the persistent efforts made by the present state government,” he claimed.
This judgement has brought smile on the face of every Haryanvi because the state would get its legitimate share of surplus water of 3.5 million acre feet (MAF) from the Ravi-Beas River, he said.
“People have been eagerly waiting for this decision since long but it was kept lingering because of laxity by previous governments,” the Chief Minister alleged, adding it was gift to the people on Haryana’s golden jubilee year.
The Supreme Court judgement was in favour of Haryana on four points for which Presidential Reference was sought.
Elaborating, Khattar said, “These points included whether the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004 and its provision were in accordance with the Constitution of India. If the Act and its provisions were in accordance with Section 14 of Inter-State Water Disputes Act 1956, Section 78 of the Punjab Re-organization Act 1966 and a notification issued in 1976 there under.”
“Besides, if Punjab has validly terminated the agreement dated December 31, 1981 and all agreements related to the Ravi-Beas waters and has discharged from its obligation under the said agreements,” he said.
The points also included whether in view of the Act, Punjab is discharged from its obligations flowing from the judgement and decree dated January 1, 2002 and judgement and order dated June 4, 2004 of the Supreme Court, he added.
The Haryana Assembly had recently unanimously passed a resolution condemning Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s statement that Punjab and its residents will not accept any verdict against the state’s interest on river waters.
On November 1, in his ‘Punjabi Suba’ address, Badal had said the state was ever ready to make any sacrifice to safeguard its legitimate share of river waters.