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SUPREME COURT CLEARS WAY FOR COMPLETION OF SATLUJ- YAMUNA LINK CANAL

SUPREME COURT CLEARS WAY FOR COMPLETION OF SATLUJ- YAMUNA LINK CANAL
SC nullifies Punjab Legislature Act terminating water aggreements.

The SYL canal verdict:-The court is seized of the Presidential Reference on validity of the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004, that had sought to over-ride its 2002 verdict asking the state to complete the SYL canal for sharing surplus waters of the Ravi and Beas with Haryana and Rajasthan. The SC had delivered the 2002 judgment on an original suit filed by Haryana in 1996 making Punjab a defendant.


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inter state water disputes
SC: Legislature can’t nullify judgments
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent
New Delhi, May 7

In a verdict that could have a direct bearing on pending inter-state water disputes, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled Parliament and Assemblies had no power to enact laws to nullify judicial verdicts based on facts and findings. “Under the pretence of power, legislature cannot neutralise the effect of the judgment given after ascertainment of fact by means of evidence/materials placed by the parties to the dispute,” a Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice RM Lodha held.

“A plain and simple judicial decision on fact cannot be altered by a legislative decision by employing doctrines or principles such as public trust doctrine, precautionary principle, larger safety principle and competence of state legislature to override agreements between two states,” the Bench made it clear.

The apex court made the clarification while virtually quashing a law enacted by the Kerala Assembly in 2006, primarily nullifying its verdict earlier that year allowing Tamil Nadu to store more water in the Mellaperiyar Dam across Periyar river.

“The rights of Tamil Nadu, crystallised in the judgment dated 27.2.2006 passed by this court in WPC No. 386/2001 cannot be nullified by a legislation made by the Kerala State legislature,” the Supreme Court ruled.

The other judges on the Constitution Bench were Justices HL Dattu, CK Prasad, Madan B Lokur and MY Eqbal.

The SC acknowledged that under the Constitutional principle, the legislature had the power to render judicial decisions “ineffective by enacting validating law within its legislative field fundamentally altering or changing its character retrospectively.”

But this power “has no application where a judicial decision has been rendered by recording a finding of fact... A (judicial) decision which disposes of the matter by giving findings upon the facts is not open to change by legislature. A final judgment, once rendered, operates and remains in force until altered by the court in appropriate proceedings,” the SC explained.

The Bench said it was true that the state’s sovereign interests provided the foundation of the public trust doctrine, but the judicial function was also a very important sovereign function of the state and the foundation of the rule of law. As such, the legislature had no right to cite any doctrine or principle to “directly or indirectly set aside the authoritative and binding finding of fact by the Court.”

The SYL canal verdict

The court is seized of the Presidential Reference on validity of the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004, that had sought to over-ride its 2002 verdict asking the state to complete the SYL canal for sharing surplus waters of the Ravi and Beas with Haryana and Rajasthan. The SC had delivered the 2002 judgment on an original suit filed by Haryana in 1996 making Punjab a defendant.

Mullaperiyar Dam row

    The SC held the 120-year-old Mullaperiyar Dam was safe and allowed the Tamil Nadu Government to raise the water level to 142 feet and ultimately to 152 feet after completion of strengthening measures on the dam
    It pulled up the Kerala Government for enacting a law that overruled its 2006 verdict by which it had declared the dam safe and allowed Tamil Nadu to raise the water level
    A final judgment, once rendered, operates and remains in force until altered by the court in appropriate proceedings, it said.

from:
http://www.tribuneindia.com/2014/20140508/main5.htm
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SC allows TN to increase Mullaperiyar water level


The Supreme Court quashed the law passed by Kerala Assembly on Mullaperiyar dam and permitted Tamil Nadu to raise the water level to 142 feet. File photo   
The Hindu The Supreme Court quashed the law passed by Kerala Assembly on Mullaperiyar dam and permitted Tamil Nadu to raise the water level to 142 feet. File photo


In a major victory for Tamil Nadu, the Supreme Court on Wednesday declared as unconstitutional the law passed by Kerala in 2006, constituting the Dam Safety Authority to prevent the State from raising the water level in the Mullaperiyar dam from 136 ft to 142 ft.

A five-judge Constitution Bench of Chief Justice R.M. Lodha and Justices H.L. Dattu, C.K. Prasad, Madan B. Lokur and M.Y. Eqbal, allowing the suit filed by TN permanently restrained Kerala from interfering with the rights of Tamil Nadu from raising the water level in the dam from 136 ft to 142 ft.

Justice Lodha, who wrote the judgment, also restrained Kerala from enforcing its law on Tamil Nadu. By enacting the law and fixing the storage height of the dam at 136 ft, Kerala had nullified the 2006 judgment and usurped judicial power and thus interfered with the judicial functioning.

The Bench said the Constitution envisaged separation of powers among the Executive, Judiciary and Legislature and one should not encroach into the domain of the other. Independence of the judiciary and courts alone would ensure rule of law, the Bench said.

The Bench said a legislation could be invalidated on the ground that there was a breach of separation of powers in enacting the law, though the Legislature might have the competence to do so. The Bench said “If the court finds that there was transgression of constitutional principles in separation of powers the court can declared the law void.”

The Bench said the Legislature could only amend the law but could not invalidate a judgment or a decree passed by the court. The law enacted by Kerala legislature was an attempt to interfere with the judicial functioning, the Bench said and struck the law as unconstitutional and void.

The Bench appointed a three-member committee with chairman of the Central Water Commission as the chairperson and representatives from the States of Kerala and Tamil Nadu to supervise and ensure that the water level in the Mullaperiyar dam was raised up to 142 ft.

Eight-year wait ends

To allay the apprehensions of Kerala, though none exists, the Bench said the committee should make periodic inspection of the dam, before the monsoon and during the monsoon and take all steps necessary for the safety of the dam. The Kerala government was directed to allow Tamil Nadu to carry out all repairs and take all other steps for the safety of the dam. On a suit filed by Tamil Nadu, the apex court in 2006 permitted the State to raise the water level from 136 ft to 142 ft. Within 15 days of the verdict, Kerala enacted a law and constituted Dam Safety Authority to prevent Tamil Nadu from raising the water level beyond 136 ft. In April 2006, Tamil Nadu filed a fresh suit to declare the law as unconstitutional. On Wednesday, after eight years the apex court decreed the suit in favour of Tamil Nadu.


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