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SC directs Punjab to maintain status quo SYL canal

In a setback to Punjab, the Supreme Court on Thursday directed maintenance of status quo on land meant for the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, after Haryana alleged that attempts have been made to alter its use by levelling it.

The Apex Court in its interim order also appointed Union Home Secretary and Punjab’s Chief Secretary and Director General of Police (DGP) as the ‘joint receiver’ of land and other property meant for the SYL canal till the next date of hearing on March 31.

A five-judge Constitution Bench, headed by Justice AR Dave, passed the order with a hard-hitting observation that “an effort is made to make execution of the decree of this court unexecutable and this court cannot be a silent spectator”. 

It passed the order on an urgent application moved by the Haryana government, submitting that the Punjab Assembly had on March 14 passed a Bill against the construction of contentious SYL canal, providing for the transfer of proprietary rights back to the land owners free of cost.

Senior advocate Shyam Divan said the Bill awaiting Governor’s assent would negate the Apex Court’s 2004 decree, calling for unhindered construction of the canal, which will provide share of its water to Haryana. He referred to news reports with photos that JCB and earth moving equipments have been arranged for levelling the land in the Punjab part of the canal and sought ad-interim protection by appointing the 'court receiver' and restraining the publication of the assent to the bill in gazette notification.
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