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Taking neutral stand on SYL, Centre tells SC

The Centre on Thursday told the Supreme Court that it was maintaining a “neutral” stand in the tussle between Punjab and Haryana over sharing of water through the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal.

“We are neutral. We cannot take a stand,” Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar told a five-judge Constitution Bench, headed by Justice AR Dave, which is conducting a hearing on the Presidential Reference pertaining to Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004.

The Solicitor General’s (SG)statement came after the Punjab government, through its senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan, said the Centre has to make its stand clear and it cannot leave the matter upto the states to be decided. Taking note of the SG’s statement, the Bench said, “if they knew the answer, why would they have made the reference.” Dhavan said it was not just an issue of water-sharing and the entire reference involved a question of policy.

On March 14, the Centre had said in the hearing on Presidential Reference that ‘the Centre will not take any side”. The same day, the Punjab Assembly had passed the Bill against the construction of contentious SYL canal providing for transfer of proprietary rights back to the land owners free of cost.
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