Published On: Sun, Nov 13th, 2016

Experts divided over implementation of SC verdict in SYL case

New Delhi, Nov 13: It took around 12 years for the presidential reference on the SYL canal case to be decided by the Supreme Court, but uncertainty over implementation of the verdict continues as experts are divided over the feasibility of its execution.

While those supporting the verdict are of the opinion that there is no other option but to construct the remaining part of the canal on the Punjab side, others are of the view that change in circumstances in the last 5-6 decades have posed hurdles in the enforcement of the verdict.

“The verdict of the Supreme Court is the opinion on question of law. The advisory opinion is also a declaration of law. In the SYL case, the declaration of the law is that the Punjab Termination of Agreement Act, 2004 was not valid.

“There is no option for the President to accept or not to accept. His job is over,” senior advocate Govind Goel said.

Holding a contrary view, senior advocate R S Suri, who represented Punjab, said the state cannot be left “remedy-less” in the water pact as there is a deficiency in quantity which used to be there when the SYL canal pact was signed.

“The most important thing for Punjab is the constitution of the tribunal to settle the dispute. Punjab cannot be left remedy-less as all the agreement on water sharing are of 1940s and 1960s and already there is 20 per cent less water available.

“The question that is required to be addressed is water has to be re-allocated. Since all the treaties and agreement were of 40s and 60s, there is a need for new series of treaties,” he said.

Echoing a similar view, senior advocate and Rajya Sabha MP K T S Tulsi said, “The problem is that if you force the agreement, virtually whole of Punjab will turn into a desert. Almost 113 out of total 140 tehsils are already water-stressed. Most of them are dependent on ground water.”

He also said the verdict of the five-judge bench on the issue was not binding on the Centre as it was delivered under advisory jurisdiction.