Decided on January 11,2002



- (1.)The State of Haryana has filed the present suit, under Article 131 of the Constitution of India, impleading the State of Punjab as defendant 1 and the Union of India as Defendant 2, for the following reliefs:
"(A) pass a decree declaring that the order dated 24-3-1976, the agreement of 31-12-1981 and the settlement of 24-7-1985 are final and binding inter alia on the State of Punjab casting an obligation on Defendant 1 to immediately restart and complete the portion of the sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal Project as also make it usable in all respects, not only under the aforesaid order of 1976, agreement of 1981 and settlement of 1985 but also pursuant to a contract established by conduct from 1976 till date; (b) pass a decree of mandatory injunction compelling Defendant 1 (failing which Defendant 2 by or through any agency) to discharge its/their obligations under the said notification of 1976, the agreement of 1981 and the settlement of 1985 and in any case under contract established by conduct, by immediately restarting and completing that portion of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal Project in the State of Punjab and otherwise making it suitable for use within a time-bound manner as may be stipulated by this Hon'ble Court to enable the State of Haryana to receive its share of Ravi and Beas waters; (c) award costs of the present suit to the plaintiff and against defendant 1; and (d) pass such other or further order or orders to such directions as a this Hon'ble Court may deem fit and proper in the facts and circumstances of the case and to meet the ends of justice. "it has been averred in the plaint that Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal is in fact, the lifeline of the farmers of Haryana and the livelihood of the farmers depends on the water, which is not only a natural resource, but a valuable national asset and completion of the aforesaid canal, would enable the State of haryana to receive its share of waters of Rivers Ravi and Beas. The plaintiff-State has averred that after the partition of India in 1947, the emergence of two independent countries - India and Pakistan, division of the waters of River Indus and its tributaries became an international issue and in the year 1960, the Government of India signed a treaty with Pakistan called the Indus Water Treaty of 1960. Under the aforesaid Treaty, the waters of the three eastern rivers, namely, Sutlej, Beas and Ravi were acquired for unrestricted use in India, to the exclusion of Pakistan and towards consideration, the Government of India agreed to make a fixed contribution of Pounds Sterling 62. 06 million (equivalent to about 110 crore rupees) to pakistan. In a meeting of the beneficiary States, namely, the State of Punjab, as it existed then, the State of Kashmir, the State of Rajasthan and the State of PEPSU, which meeting had been convened by the Government of India on 29-1-1955, a workable agreement was arrived at for development and utilization of the waters of Rivers Ravi and Beas and under the said agreement, the share of the undivided Punjab was 5.90 MAF. When there was a bifurcation of the erstwhile State of Punjab into two separate States of punjab and Haryana w. e. f. 1-11-1966 under the Punjab Reorganisation Act of 1966, special provisions had been made with regard to the rights and liabilities of the successor States in relation to the water from the Bhakra nangal Project and the Beas Project, Section 78 of the Punjab Reorganisation act, 1966, deals with such rights and liabilities of the successor States. Dispute arose between the two States of Punjab and Haryana as to their respective share of water which had earlier been allocated to the erstwhile state of Punjab and in the meeting called by the Government of India, a decision was taken on ad hoc basis that 35% of water would go to Haryana and 65% to Punjab, pending finalisation of the dispute. The State of Haryana approached the Government of India in October 1969, invoking its jurisdiction under Section 78 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966. A committee was appointed by the Central Government, which reported that haryana would be entitled to 3.78 MAR Even the then Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission had examined this question and had recommended that Haryana would get 3.74 MAP and Punjab would get 3.26 MAF, while delhi would get 0. 20 MAF. A notification, ultimately was issued on the 24-3- 1976, allocating the surplus Ravi-Beas waters between the two States of punjab and Haryana. Under this order, 3.5 MAF had been allotted to the plaintiff-State. The State of Haryana, not being a riparian State, the water allocated to it has to be drawn by digging a canal. By the existing arrangement for carrying waters of River Sutlej through the Bhakra Main line Canal, it is not possible to draw water allocated to the State of Haryana under the order of the Government of India dated 26-3-1976. The State of haryana proposed that a link canal called the Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal be constructed in the territories of the State of Punjab and Haryana, so that the state of Haryana could draw its allocated share of water. The plaintiff-State has averred that the length of Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal was 214 kilometres out of which 122 kilometres is in the territory of Punjab and 92 kilometres is in the territory of Haryana. The alignment of the proposed canal was alongside the Nangal Hydel Channel and the Bhakra Main Line Canal. The chief Minister of Haryana had requested the Prime Minister of India by his letter dated 23-4-1976 that the Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal should be completed by June 1978. After several rounds of discussion, the two States had agreed upon the alignment of 30 kilometres of SYL Canal adjoining haryana within the territory of Punjab and in fact the State of Punjab accepted money for that purpose. The State of Punjab issued various notifications for the acquisition of the land for the purposes of constructing the canal. The State of Haryana, on its part started construction of the canal in its territory. The Haryana portion of the canal stood completed in June 1980 but the State of Punjab adopted dilatory tactics on the construction of the canal on one pretext or the other. As the canal within the State of Punjab had not been constructed, the State of Haryana filed a suit in the Supreme court in the year 1979, being Suit No. 1 of 1979. The State of Punjab filed a suit in this Court under Article 131 of the Constitution, challenging the validity of the orders of the Government of India dated 24-3-1976 and also challenged the vires of Section 78 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, which was registered as Suit No. 2 of 1979. During the pendency of the aforesaid two suits, an agreement was entered into between the States of Haryana, punjab and Rajasthan in the presence of the Prime Minister of India on 31-12-1981. Under the said agreement, the net surplus of Ravi-Beas waters were estimated at 17.17 MAF and that stood allotted as 4.22 MAF to Punjab, 3.50 MAF for Haryana, 8.60 MAF for Rajasthan, 0. 20 MAF for Delhi water supply and 0. 65 MAF for Jammu and Kashmir. Clause (IV) of the said agreement provided:

"(Iv) The Sutlej-Yamuna Canal Project shall be implemented in a time-bound manner so far as the canal and appurtenant works in the punjab territory are concerned within a maximum period of two years from the date of signing of the agreement so that Haryana is enabled to draw its allocated share of waters. The canal capacity for the purpose of design of the canal shall be mutually agreed upon between Punjab and haryana within 15 days, failing which it shall be 6500 cusecs, as recommended by the former Chairman, Central Water Commission. "the said clause also provided that the suits filed by the State of Haryana and the State of Punjab should be withdrawn, without any reservations whatsoever but subject to the terms of the agreement and accordingly both the State Governments applied for withdrawal of the suits. This Court allowed the suits to be withdrawn by order dated the 12th of February, 1982. The alignment of the canal within the State of Punjab was proposed to be changed, to which the State of Haryana also agreed. The State of Punjab started construction of canal but the progress was rather slow. The State of punjab also released a white paper on the 23rd of April, 1982, highly appreciating the agreement which had resulted in an increase of 1.32 MAF of the water to the share of Punjab. On 5-11-1985, the Punjab Legislative assembly passed a resolution, repudiating the agreement of 31-12-1981. On the 24th of July, 1985, a settlement was arrived at between the then Prime minister of India and late Sant Harchaand Singh Longowal, the then President of Akali Dal, commonly known as the "punjab Settlement", and the said settlement also contained an express provision that the construction of SYL canal would be continued and completed by the 15th of August, 1986. In accordance with the terms of the settlement, more particularly clause 9.1, the issues relating to the usage, share and allocation of the Ravi-Beas waters were referred to the adjudication of a Waters Tribunal, under the notification dated 2-4-1986. The Tribunal submitted its report to the Central Government on the 30th of January, 1987 and the Tribunal also indicated in its report that punjab should complete its portion of SYL Canal expeditiously. In July 1990, the construction of the canal within the State of Punjab was completely stopped but by then, over 90% of the construction had stood completed. Failure on the part of the State of Punjab to construct SYL Canal within its territory, has prevented the State of Haryana from utilizing the water allocated to its share. The plaintiff State has further averred that more than rs 600 crores have been spent on the construction of SYL Canal in the punjab territory, which is in addition to Rs 250 crores spent for the construction of the canal within the Haryana territory. Non-completion of syl Canal has debarred over three lakh hectares of irrigation potential created in the State of Haryana and the said State is losing agricultural production of over eight lakh tonnes per annum. According to the plaintiff, if the canal would have been completed in 1983, as envisaged, then the State of haryana would have been in a position to produce an additional 100 lakh tonnes of foodgrains, the value of which would work out to Rs 5000 crores. When the State of Punjab did not carry out the construction of SYL Canal, the State of Haryana sought for intervention of the Union of India and the prime Minister of India convened a meeting on the 20th of February, 1991. In the said meeting, the Prime Minister directed that arrangements should be made for the Border Roads Organisation to take over the work in the minimum time possible and the work should be dealt with on an emergency footing. At that point of time, there was no political government in the State of Punjab and it was under the President's Rule. In July 1995, the State of punjab circulated a white paper, clearly expressing its intention not to proceed with the work of the construction of SYL Canal and took a stand that haryana's share of the water should be delivered through the existing Bhakra canal System, which is an absolute impossibility. The plaintiff, thereafter filed the present suit for the relief as already stated.

(2.)Defendant 1 State of Punjab had filed its written statement, raising several preliminary objections. It is contended that the dispute clearly falls within the scope of the Inter-State Water Disputes Act, 1956 and consequently the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is barred on a combined reading of Section 11 of the Inter-State Water Disputes Act and Article 262 of the Constitution of India. It is further contended that the validity of the order dated the 24th of March, 1976 as well as agreement dated 31-12-1981 has been challenged before the Ravi-Beas Waters Tribunal and the report of the said Tribunal has not become final inasmuch as the application filed by the state of Punjab under Section 5 (3) of the Act has not yet been disposed of. It has been further stated that the plaintiff-State has no legal right to invoke article 131 of the Constitution and further, the suit must be held to be barred by limitation. The further stand of Defendant 1 is that the earlier suit filed in the year 1979, having been withdrawn without leave of the Court, the present suit is barred under Order 23 Rule 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure as well as under Order 2 Rule 32 of the Supreme Court Rules. According to Defendant 1, no legal right can be said to have accrued to the State of Haryana under the notification dated 24-3-1976 and further the agreement dated 31-12-1981 is invalid. It is also contended that the said agreement of 1981 stands superseded by the settlement of 24-7-1985. According to Defendant 1, the terms and conditions contained in paragraph 9.3 of the Punjab Settlement was only a unilateral concession made by Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, and it was never intended to be a legal obligation, binding on the State of punjab. Defendant 1 admitted in the written statement that the issues arising from paragraphs 9.1 and 9.2 of the self-same Punjab Settlement were referred to the adjudication of the Ravi-Beas Waters Tribunal. But paragraph 9.3 had not been referred to any Tribunal and it was merely a concession given by the said Harchand Singh Longowal. Defendant 1 does not dispute the observations of the Tribunal in its report dated 30-1-1987, relating to the aforesaid paragraph 9.3, but contends that such observations were in fact beyond the jurisdiction of the Tribunal. According to Defendant 1, the plaintiff's claim to have share from the Beas Project would not exceed 0. 9 maf and that quantity of water would always be made available through the main canal, which is in existence and functioning. The said Defendant 1 also averred that the State of Haryana is getting an additional water supply through River Yamuna under the agreement dated 12-5-1994, between the states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi and Himachal Pradesh and, therefore, there is no need for SYL Canal in any event. It has been further averred that Haryana is already getting 1.62 MAF of water in Ravi- beas waters through the existing canal system of Bhakra Main Line/narwana branch and the present system is fully capable of conveying the said quantity of water. Consequently, there is no need for SYL Canal. Defendant 1 further contends that in Section 78 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, there has been no reference to River Ravi and, therefore, question of conveying any water from River Ravi through SYL Canal does not arise. According to this defendant, the claim of the State of Haryana, over and above the allocations made in the Beas Project were neither legal nor proper and were only for extraneous considerations. According to the State of Punjab, water of River ravi does not find mention in any scheme resulting from the Beas Project and, therefore, any order containing allocation of Ravi water to the plaintiff- state is invalid. Defendant 1 has also averred that only the supplies from river Beas are being transferred to Bhakra reservoir. According to Defendant 1, the allocation of 3.5 MAF to Haryana would deprive the State of Punjab of irrigation facilities to lakhs of acres of land, which are being irrigated in the state of Punjab. So far as the issuance of a white paper is concerned, defendant 1 has averred that the same was a political decision of the Chief minister at that time and did not bind the State and at any rate, the subsequent resolution of the Punjab Legislative Assembly, repudiating the earlier agreement clinches the matter. So far as the construction of SYL canal already undertaken in the State of Punjab is concerned, it has been averred that the State had to undertake the same under duress and the said work was stopped because of turmoil in the State and when the militants killed a Chief Engineer and Superintending Engineer. Defendant 1 admitted that there has been an expenditure of Rs 520 crores on the construction of syl Canal in the Punjab portion and further admitted that there has been a recurring expenditure on establishment, which money the Government of india pays to the State of Punjab. According to Defendant 1, no cause of action has accrued to the plaintiff to file the present suit, invoking Article 131 of the Constitution and at no stage, the State of Punjab committed itself to the construction of SYL Canal.
(3.)Defendant 2 Union of India in its written statement, took the stand that relief claimed by the plaintiff can be only against the State of Punjab and there is no obligation on the part of the Government of India to take up the construction work of SYL Canal. According to Defendant 2, the Union of india had already discharged its obligation by pursuing and directing the government of Punjab for early completion of the Punjab portion of the canal. It has been further averred that the Union of India had constituted the ravi and Beas Waters Tribunal, which gave its interim report on the 30-1-1987 and the final report of the Tribunal is awaited. It has also been reiterated in the written statement that the Ravi and Beas Waters Tribunal in its interim report had observed that this canal is the lifeline of the farmers of haryana and unless it is expeditiously completed, Haryana will not be in a position to utilize the full quantum of water allocated to it. The said defendant has also averred that the concept of a carrier for Haryana's share in surplus Ravi-Beas waters was envisaged in the inter-State agreement of 1981. Further, the Central Government determined the rights and liabilities of the successor States in accordance with Section 78 of the Punjab Reorganisation act, 1966 and allocated 3.5 MAF of surplus Ravi-Beas waters to Haryana as per the Government of India notification dated 24-3-1976. The said defendant has stated in the written statement that the Union of India made its best efforts to settle the issue. On the question of amount of money, defendant 2 has averred that the Union of India has provided Rs499.12 crores to the Government of Punjab till March 1994 for completion of the punjab portion of SYL Canal. It has also been stated that due to non- completion of SYL Canal by Punjab, the State of Haryana is not able to utilize its full share of Ravi-Beas waters. The Union Government has also stated that it is essential that the Punjab portion of SYL Canal is completed at the earliest. The said defendant has further averred that construction of SYL Canal is solely the responsibility of the Government of Punjab and the Union of India has made all efforts including the financial assistance to the State of punjab for early completion of the canal. The said defendant has finally stated that while the Government of India will continue to play its role for the settlement of dispute between the two States,' the alternative relief claimed in para (b) of the plaint against the Government of India is not tenable and the same is liable to be rejected.

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