Bansal, PM discuss stand on Punjab water pact termination act

Union Water Resources Minister today understood to have discussed with Prime Minister the possible stand of the Centre before SC on legality of an Act which anulled Punjab`s Ravi-Beas river water sharing agreements.

Last Updated: Jul 07, 2010, 22:08 PM IST

New Delhi: Union Water Resources Minister P K
Bansal today understood to have discussed with Prime Minister
Mammohan Singh the possible stand of the Centre before Supreme
Court on legality of an Act which anulled Punjab`s Ravi-Beas
river water sharing agreements with neighbouring states.

The meeting comes days before the apex court fixes a date
to hold regular hearing on the Presidential reference on the
legality of the controversial Punjab Termination of Agreement
Act, 2004.

So far, the Centre has not taken any stand on the issue
as it felt that since a Presidential reference was already
pending before the SC to decide on the legality of the
agreement, there was no need to file any statement indicating
its position.

In September, 2004 the then Attorney General had stated
that "for the present, the Union of India does not propose to
file any statement inasmuch as all the relevant facts form
part of the Presidential reference on record".

In the next hearing held on February 28, 2005, by when
all the state governments had filed their statements, the AG
had stated that "Union of India does not propose to file any
additional statement or document."

Sources said, with Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh
Badal recently demanding "royalty" from states for using
Ravi-Beas waters, the Centre felt that it may have to take a
stand before the apex court on the sensitive issue.

It is learnt that in today`s meeting, Bansal discussed
with the PM on whether to take a stand at all on the issue and
the possible stand of the Centre if it files a statement
before the Supreme Court.

The then President A P J Abdul Kalam had on July 22, 2004
made a reference to the apex court, asking it to adjudicate if
the Punjab Termination of Agreement Act was constitutionally
valid.

Among other things, the Supreme Court has been asked to
rule if the controversial Act is in accordance with the
provisions of Section 14 of the Inter-State Water Disputes
Act, 1956 and Section 78 of the Punjab Re-organisation Act,
1966.

PTI