The Supreme Court is likely to pronounce on Thursday, November 10, its verdict on the presidential reference of 2004 on the controversy relating to sharing of water from the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal by states including Punjab and Haryana.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by justice AR Dave, who is demitting office on November 18, reserved the verdict on May 12 after the Centre maintained its earlier stand of 2004, that the states concerned should settle their disputes on the matter by themselves. The Centre had said it was not taking sides and was maintaining a neutral stand in the matter in which the court has recorded the stand of other states — Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir.
During the hearing of the case, while Punjab assembly passed a law to return the land acquired on its side for the construction of SYL canal, the Haryana government approached the apex court which directed the status quo to maintained.
Punjab has earlier said the apex court was not bound to answer the presidential reference made at the instance of the Centre which had no power to resolve the dispute.
The Parkash Singh Badal government has submitted that a fresh tribunal be set up to resolve all disputes with other states including Haryana on all aspects, which will also cover the riparian rights and the dwindling flow of water. It had said a fresh tribunal was sought in 2003, about 18 months before the 2004 law that annulled all inter-state pacts, to review the 1981 Longowal Accord on river water-sharing in view of depleting flow and other changed circumstances.
The water-sharing agreement was among Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir. On Haryana’s demand, Punjab has said that after its creation in 1966, it had become a riparian state of the Yamuna and was getting its share. At the same time, it had lost its riparian rights after it was carved out of Punjab.