Justice Lalit recuses himself from hearing Haryana’s plea on SYL

New Delhi, Nov 21 (IANS) The hearing on Haryana’s plea seeking compliance of the top court’s 2002 and 2004 orders and decree on the completion of the Punjab stretch of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal was deferred on Monday as Justice Uday Umesh Lalit recused himself from hearing the matter.

As the matter was called out for hearing by the bench of Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Justice Lalit, the latter said that he can’t hear the matter.

Later senior counsel Shyam Divan, appearing for Haryana, mentioned the matter before the bench headed by Chief Justice T.S.Thakur for listing of the matter before another bench for hearing.

Haryana has moved the top court seeking the enforcement of its January 15, 2002 and June 4, 2004 order and decree of the top court. By the 2002 order, the top court had given Punjab a year’s time to complete SYL stretch falling in its territory. By the 2004 order, the top court had asked the Union government to complete the construction of SYL falling in Punjab.

Haryana has also sought the continuation of March 17 order of the five judges constitution bench appointing Union Home Secretary, Punjab Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police as the receiver of the SYL Canal, land acquired for it and all equipment, including earth-moving machinery.

The constitution bench had appointed a three member committee of receiver in the wake of Punjab assembly passing a law on returning the lands acquired for constructing the SYL.

However, the bench did not continue with its order appointing receivers after it pronounced its opinion holding that the Punjab Termination of Water Agreements Act, 2004 was unconstitutional and was intended to deny Haryana its share in the Ravi-Beas river waters.

The constitution bench had on November 10, 2016, pronounced its opinion on the Presidential reference seeking its views on the constitutional validity of the Punjab’s 2004 act.

On November 10 when the institution bench pronounced its opinion, Haryana had pressed for the continuation of the March 17 interim order but the court declined it, saying that no matter was now pending before it and Haryana has to move a separate petition.

However, the Punjab government on November 15 denotified the lands acquired four decades ago for the construction of SYL.