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PUNJAB CHIEF Minister Parkash Singh Badal shot off a letter to President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday, seeking an audience with him, along with the state council of ministers, on the issue of SYL canal following Thursday’s Supreme Court judgment on the presidential reference relating to the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004. Deciding on the presidential reference, a five-member Constitutional bench of the Supreme Court on Thursday had declared the Act passed by the Punjab Assembly in 2004 as invalid.
Legitimate and constitutional right over its river waters is a question of life and death for each and every Punjabi today and for all time to come,” Badal wrote in the letter, while pointing out that the “people of Punjab demand nothing that is not constitutionally theirs”.
Referring to the SC judgment, Badal said the “advice” of the court had raised serious apprehensions in the minds of the people of Punjab. “We respect the Hon’ble court. But, we respect the Constitution of India even more. The Constitution of India clearly forbids the Government of India from arrogating to itself the right to adjudicate on distribution of river waters among states,” wrote Badal, adding that grave injustice had been done to Punjab by the Union government by “violating this Constitutional clause”.
In a blame game between Akali Dal and Congress as to who first paved the way for starting the controversial project, Akali Dal blames the Union government led by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for starting the digging of a canal at Kapoori in Patiala on April 8, 1982, and accuse her of “forcing” the tripartite agreement in 1981 for sharing of river waters from Punjab.
A decision to seek a meeting of the Punjab Cabinet with the President was taken during a meeting of the Cabinet on Thursday. An emergency session of the Punjab Assembly has also been called on November 16 to discuss the issue of SYL canal following the SC order. The Punjab advocate general has been entrusted with studying the court order and come up with legal options available.
In a development related to the SYL issue and emergency meeting of the Assembly on November 16, Punjab has requested extension in the deployment of 10 companies of CRPF till November 19. The companies were to remain deployed in Punjab till November 12 in the wake of November 10 Sarbat Khalsa at Talwandi Sabo, which was eventually cancelled. “We have sought an extension of the deployment for one more week,” said Punjab Director General of Police Suresh Arora.