Supreme Court Rebukes Delhi Government Over Water Crisis Plea Defects

GG News Bureau
New Delhi, 10th June. 
The Supreme Court sternly admonished the Delhi government on Monday for failing to rectify defects in its plea seeking a directive for Haryana to release surplus water provided by Himachal Pradesh to the national capital. This surplus water is crucial for alleviating Delhi’s ongoing water crisis.

A vacation bench comprising Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra and Justice Prasanna B Varale pointed out that the registry was not accepting affidavits due to defects in the Delhi government’s petition.

“Why have you not cured the defect? We will dismiss the petition. On the last date also this was pointed out and you did not remove the defect. Don’t take the court proceedings for granted, however important your case may be,” the bench warned. It emphasized the necessity of filing complete and proper documents, adding, “Never take us for granted. Filings are not being accepted. You straightaway hand over a series of documents in court and then you say you are suffering a deficit of water and pass an order today itself. You are raising all grounds of urgency and sitting leisurely. Let everything come on record. We will take it the day after tomorrow.”

The top court underscored its need to thoroughly review all filings before hearing the case, especially in light of widespread media coverage. “If we don’t read the files at our residential office we will be impressed by whatever the newspapers are reporting. That is not good for any of the parties,” the bench noted.

At the outset, senior advocate Shyam Divan, representing Haryana, submitted the state’s reply. The apex court questioned the timing of this submission, to which Divan responded that the registry did not permit pre-filing of the reply due to unresolved defects in Delhi’s plea.

The Supreme Court had previously observed that the acute shortage of drinking water in Delhi had become an “existential problem” and had directed Himachal Pradesh to release 137 cusecs of surplus water to the national capital. Haryana was instructed to facilitate the water’s flow.

The court stressed that there should be no politics over water and had noted Himachal Pradesh’s willingness to release the surplus water. “Since Himachal Pradesh has no objection and is ready and willing to release the surplus water available with it, we direct that Himachal Pradesh shall release 137 cusecs of surplus water available with it from the upstream so that the water reaches Hathnikund barrage and reaches Delhi through Wazirabad,” the bench had ruled.

In light of the urgency, Himachal Pradesh was directed to release the water on June 7, with prior notification to Haryana. The Upper Yamuna River Board (UYRB) was tasked with measuring the excess water reaching Hathnikund for onward supply to Wazirabad and Delhi.

During a previous hearing on June 3, the Supreme Court had called for an emergent meeting of the UYRB on June 5 to address the issue. The UYRB, established in 1995, is responsible for regulating water allocation among beneficiary states and monitoring projects up to and including the Okhla barrage in Delhi. The beneficiary states include Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, and the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi.

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