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बेसिक इंग्लिश का दूसरा सत्र (कक्षा प्रारंभ : 22 अक्तूबर, शाम 3:30 से 5:30)
Q. SC on Punjab’s law to terminate river water agreements: Comment onrecent judgement of Supreme Court on Presidential reference about Punjab’s law to terminate river water agreements.
Nov 12, 2016 Related to : GS Paper-2

Ans :

Introduction-

Recently a five judge constitutional bench ruled that 2004’s Punjab legislative act to terminate all previous agreements on sharing the waters of the Ravi and the Beas with its neighbouring states as illegal. The court ruled that Punjab’s legislative assembly illegally designed the act to terminate 1981 agreement entered into among Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan to re-allocate the waters of Ravi and Beas in overall national interest and for optimum utilisation of the waters.

Background-

  • The problem in river water sharing between Punjab and Haryana has been started since 1966, when Haryana was carved out of Punjab and made separate state. 
  • In December 1981, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan entered into an agreement to share between them the waters of the Ravi, the Beas and the Satluj.
  • The agreement also said the waters would be shared with Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir. It was agreed that Punjab would construct the Satluj-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal in its state within two years.
  • Construction of canal started by laying foundation by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in April 1992. However, the project never got completed.
  • With the rise of terrorism in Punjab, the SYL canal became a sensitive issue and politicians started squabbling about water-sharing .
  • However, the Supreme Court, in January 2002, directed Punjab to continue the SYL canal construction process and ordered it to make the canal functional within a year.
  • But in 2004, Punjab Legislative assembly by passing act terminated all previous agreements on sharing the waters of the Ravi and the Beas with its neighbouring states.
  • Then apprehending trouble, then President A.P.J Kalam sought the Supreme Court's opinion on the 2004 Act under Article 143 (1) of the Constitution.

Analysis-

  • According to judiciary Punjab reneged on its solemn promises by terminating its 1981 agreement with Haryana and Rajasthan to discharge itself of the obligation to construct the SYL Canal. 
  • Its objective of Punjab assembly was to overcome the 2004 decree passed by the Supreme Court directing it to complete the canal work expeditiously. 
  • Court while comparing it with previous verdicts relating to the Cauvery and Mullaperiyar disputes, reiterated the principle that a State cannot, through legislation, do an act in conflict with the judgment of the highest court which has attained finality.
  • The recent verdict by a five-member Bench is a timely reminder that it would be destructive of the rule of law and federalism if a State were to be allowed to usurp judicial powers by nullifying a verdict that has rendered findings on both fact and law. 
  • Hence Punjab government should be abide by the judgement of Supreme Court and it is its duty to allow the completion of the SYL Link Canal, so that Haryana can utilise the share of water allocated to it, cannot be frustrated any more.
  • If Punjab feels aggrieved, then instead of resolution or passing acts, it should opt for negotiation and discussion with other parties to find the solution.  

Conclusion-

India is federal country and all riparian states have rights on the water flows through their land. Due to narrow political interest by political parties, we have witnessed various water disputes among various states and many such cases are pending before apex court. The recent judgment on presidential reference is one of the most important steps in ensuring rule of law against arbitrary actions of Punjab government. Instead of litigations or unilateral resolutions aggrieved parties must opt for negotiations with other parties with the help of centre.


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