NOTWITHSTANDING THE Punjab government’s stand of defying the Supreme Court ruling on the sharing of Ravi-Beas waters with its neighbouring state, Haryana is confident that now it is the end of the road for Punjab where the Supreme Court would ensure execution of its decree as it did in case of the Cauvery water dispute by ensuring that Karnataka released water to Tamil Nadu.
“Our execution petition is already pending with the Supreme Court since 2004 which would now be revived. Even in case of the Cauvery water dispute, Karnataka was reluctant to comply with Supreme Court’s directions. But the Apex Court ensured execution of its decision. Though it has been implemented partially till date, the Supreme Court is still monitoring the case,” said Haryana Advocate General Baldev Raj Mahajan.
Mahajan said there was no confusion over whether the SC’s ruling was advisory or binding on the President as the Apex Court had earlier passed the decree in Haryana’s favour and now reiterated that it is executable. Mahajan is of the view that as of now, the five-judge constitutional bench has decided that its decree and judgment passed in 2002 and 2004 are executable and the Punjab government cannot discharge it from its obligation. Now, the execution petition would be listed before a bench comprising two judges.
Asked about his reaction to any move by Punjab to bring in a Bill to override the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004, Mahajan said that even the Supreme Court has made it clear that the state cannot pass an Act in conflict with the judgment of the highest court which has attained finality. “Otherwise in a federal structure, if a state is permitted to enact law to nullify the decree or judgment of the Apex Court, it would result in dangerous consequences,” added Mahajan.
Punjab Advocate General Ashok Aggarwal though said, “This Supreme Court order under Article 143(1) of the Constitution of India in advisory jurisdiction is not a judgment. It is an opinion and an advice only. Such advice is never binding on the President. It is certain and settled law.” He said that now it is the discretion of the President whether to accept the advice, decline it or send the matter again to the Supreme Court for further clarification.
Questioned about Punjab government’s next step, Aggarwal said that a legal team, including him, has been constituted to go through the SC order. “It is only after we scan the judgment that we will be able to share some outline of the thought by tomorrow evening,” he expressed, adding that it would take time to take the issue to a logical conclusion. He further stated that the legal team would only render advice to the state government and finally it was up to the latter to accept it, ignore it or take a third view.
Questioned about various state leaders’ comments, including Badals, that not even a drop of water would be shared with Haryana, Aggarwal said, “If any individual member of a political party expresses his opinion, irrespective of the fact that he is holding a government position also, it is not a government opinion. If it is a government opinion, then show me the letter or notification or order on file by the government.”