The Supreme Court today lashed out at the Counsel of the Delhi government for not curing defects in the Writ Petition filed by it seeking reliefs in relation to the problem of water scarcity in the national capital.

The Vacation Bench of Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra and Justice Prasanna Bhalachandra Varale was hearing a petition filed by the Delhi government seeking a direction to Haryana to release the surplus water provided by Himachal Pradesh to the national capital to mitigate its ongoing water crisis. Pertinently, on the last date of hearing, the defect in filing was pointed out, and Advocate on Record (AoR) Shadan Farasat had assured the Court that the defects would be cured so that e-filing could be done in the matter.

At the outset, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Vikramjeet Banerjee, appearing for the Union and Counsel for the State of Haryana, submitted before the Bench a copy of the report by the Upper Yamuna River Board (UYRB) and the status/compliance report.

However, Justice Mishra questioned why these documents were being submitted physically instead of being uploaded online. The Counsel for Haryana explained that the documents could not be uploaded due to the Delhi government’s failure to cure the filing defects.

Justice Mishra expressed frustration and remarked, "All such heavy reports you are filing in court now...why are you not removing the defects? We will dismiss this petition. On the last date also, this was pointed out, and you did not remove the defects. You don't take the court proceedings for granted."

In response, the Counsel for the Delhi government apologized.

Justice Mishra said, "How so ever important your case may be. When a statement is made in the Court that the defects will be removed, and you have not removed them. We will simply dismiss this on this ground. Don't take us for granted."

"I apologize, My Lord. I will call it up today itself. From our side, all defects have been cured. I will follow up with the Registrar. I will ensure that everything is...," the Delhi government's Counsel submitted.

To the submission, Justice Mishra said, "Shall we record your statement? Then if it is found incorrect, that you have not removed the defect. Learned Counsel for the petitioner submits that the defects have been removed. Office to verify, if the defects are not removed, the Petition shall be dismissed."

The Counsel reiterated that all necessary corrections had been made and the documents had been uploaded. He emphasized that further processing was pending with the registry and assured the Court that nothing was pending from their end.

"Raising all kinds of urgency and sitting quite leisurely," Justice Mishra remarked.

Taking note of the submissions, the Bench ordered, "The Status report and Affidavits are not placed on record because the defects in the Petition are yet to be removed. Learned Counsel for the Petitioner submits that the defects have already been removed and further process shall be taken so that the matter is defect free. Post the matter day after tomorrow."

After dictating the Order, Justice Mishra further said, "We don't want everything to be handed over in court. We want to read the files because there are so many things being reported in the newspaper; if we dont read, then we will be impressed by whatever the newspapers are reporting and that is not .....on parties, that we are passing orders passed on newspaper reports."

Accordingly, the Court adjourned the matter for further hearing on June 12.

On June 6, taking note of the minutes of the meeting of June 5 held by the Upper Yamuna River Board (UYRB), the Court had directed the State of Himachal Pradesh to supply 137 cusecs of water through Haryana on June 7 to curb the problem of water scarcity in the national capital. The Court had further directed the State of Haryana to facilitate the process. "The State of Haryana is directed to release the water tomorrow. A status report be submitted on Monday (June 10) with compliance report." The Vacation Bench also clarified that there shall be no wastage of water in Delhi. "We are conscious of the fact that there is water scarcity in Delhi, we direct that there shall be no wastage of water," it had said.

Earlier, the Court had noted the agreement among the Counsels representing the Centre, Delhi, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh regarding the urgency of the situation. All parties acknowledged the need for a collaborative, non-adversarial approach to resolve the water scarcity issue faced by Delhi's citizens. The Vacation Bench had directed an emergent meeting of the Upper Yamuna River Board (UYRB) to be held on June 5 so that the problem of water scarcity in the national capital is properly addressed.

"During the course of hearing, all the parties have agreed that there should be a non-adversial approach to the scarcity of water face be the citizens of Delhi. All the parties (SG Mehta, AAG of State of HP, AAG of Haryana...) agreed that there shall be an emergent meeting of "Upper Yamuna River Board" on June June 2024, to address the issues agitated in the Suit so the problem of scarcity of water for the citizens of Delhi shall be properly addressed," the Bench had said.

"Post the matter for June 6, along with the minutes of the meeting of the board and the suggested steps to be taken by the stakeholders to solve the problem," the Bench had ordered.

Cause Title: Government of NCT of Delhi v. State of Haryana [Diary No. 25504 / 2024]