SYL: SC ruling sets Punjab political pot boiling
Supreme Court’s ruling favouring Haryana on the contentious SYL canal issue has set political temperature soaring in Punjab, with the state Congress chief Amarinder Singh quitting as MP and declaring the party MLAs will follow suit, as Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal asserted “not a drop of water” will be allowed to be taken out of the state.
A major confrontation between the Supreme Court and Punjab government also appeared a distinct possibility with the state’s SAD-BJP government asserting it would appeal to the President not to accept the advice of the apex court.
Addressing a press conference after a hurriedly called meeting of the state’s council of ministers, Badal, with son and deputy Sukhbir by his side, declared “not a single drop of water will be allowed to be taken out of the state...water comes first for us.” Sukhbir said a special session of the state assembly has been called on November 16 where the government will adopt a resolution appealing to the President not to accept the advice of the Supreme Court, which had ruled a state which is a party to an agreement cannot unilaterally terminate it or nullify the decree of the highest court in the country.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court, while disposing of the Presidential reference said,”All the questions have been answered in the negative”. The reference had been made by the then President A P J Abdul Kalam on the constitutional validity of the law passed by then Punjab government-led by Captain Amrinder Singh to nullify the court verdict and unilaterally terminating the almost three-dacade old SYL water sharing agreement.
Amarinder, Lok Sabha MP from Amritsar, also demanded imposition of President’s rule in the state and suggested holding the assembly elections in December, voicing apprehension that a “mischievous” Badal government may try to “foment trouble” following the court order.
In its judgement, a five-judge bench headed by Justice A R Dave made it clear that the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004 was “unconstitutional” and that Punjab could not have taken a “unilateral” decision to terminate the water sharing agreement with Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi and Chandigarh.