New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday told the Delhi Jal Board to refrain from filing a flurry of petitions in connection with its dispute with Haryana government for not releasing sufficient water to the capital.
The top court’s observation came while dismissing the DJB’s plea seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against high-level officers in the Haryana government for wilful disobedience of the February 1996 order.
At the outset, senior advocate Vikas Singh, representing the DJB, read out an earlier order of the top court. As a bench headed by Justice L. Nageswara Rao queried: “Please, tell us what is the contempt?”, Singh said the water level at Wazirabad should be kept full.
The bench, also comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, told Singh to “please advise the government to refrain the government from filing petitions after petitions”.
“This is the 4th petition,” it said.
Singh contended that why should Delhi not file petitions, when it is entitled to as Haryana is not supplying water, which is required. He added Delhi is dependent on water from Yamuna River, but Haryana is saying that they will use the water for agriculture but not give it to Delhi for drinking purposes. He emphasised that there is definitely shortage of water as per top court’s order, which is sufficient for contempt.
To this, the bench said: “We don’t want to get into all this. You tell us how is there a contempt?”
Singh contended that 80 cusecs was supposed to come through the river, but “not a single cusec reached us and the upper Yamuna board says, ‘we cannot do anything'”. “They actually have no teeth,” he added.
As the bench again asked: “You tell us, how it is contempt?”, Singh replied contempt is there because Wazirabad was meant to be kept full and he had nothing more to say.
Senior advocate Shyam Divan, representing the Haryana government, urged the court to dismiss the plea, stating that the DJB keep coming to the court without any basis, and termed it complete abuse of process.
Divan added subsequent to the Supreme Court judgement, huge infrastructure has come up and now it is up to the Delhi Jal Board, how much water to direct to its plants. He submitted that Haryana is releasing more than 1,000 cusecs of water, as per the Yamuna River Allocation Board.
“We are supplying water required from us, sometimes more,” he added.
Divan also said Delhi has control over the local infrastructure, and they can keep the Wazirabad pond full, if they want to.
Dismissing the DJB’s contempt petition, the top court stressed that it should engage with the Haryana government and negotiate with them on the matter.