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Supreme Court Rejects Punjab’s Plea on Recusal ; Haryana Judge to opt-out Sutlej Yamuna Link Hearing

The Supreme Court today rejected the Punjab Government’s objection to Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, who hails from Haryana, being part of a five-member Constitution Bench hearing the Presidential reference on the validity of the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act  2004.

Sutlej Yamuna Link Hearing

The Centre today continued to question the logic behind the 2004 Act under which Punjab sought to cancel its agreements with neighbouring states, particularly Haryana, for sharing the Ravi, Beas and Sutlej waters. The other states involved in the reference are Rajasthan, Delhi, Himachal and J&K, besides the Centre.Arguing for the Centre, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar said if Punjab felt the flow of water in these rivers had dwindled, it could have reduced the share of other states on a pro rata basis, instead of trying to wriggle out of its commitments altogether. “We are rejecting this application,” the Bench headed by Justice Anil R Dave told senior advocate Ram Jethmalani who argued for Punjab. The others on the Bench are Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose, Shiva Kirti Singh and Amitava Roy.

Jethmalani said Punjab wanted Justice Goel to opt out of the Bench as six SC Judges had done so in such sensitive cases in the recent past  because they hailed from one of the states involved in the litigation over sharing of river waters. Punjab, in its application, had named the six Judges as Justices JS Khehar, HL Dattu and SS Nijjar (both retired), J Chelameswar, NV Ramana and Kurian Joseph. All had opted out without giving a chance to any of the states to raise any objection, Jethmalani said.“Judges decide cases without any bias, love and affection,” the Bench said. Jethmalani said “everything has become so dirty in politics these days” and as such Justice Goel’s recusal would save a lot of embarrassment. via


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