The first division bench comprising the Acting Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice PD Audikesavalu passed the direction on hearing R Sankaranarayanan, Additional Solicitor General of India and Senior counsel P Wilson who appeared for the petitioner.
The petitioner prayed to nullify the Dam Safety Bill, submitting that it is ultra vires to the constitution and also usurps the powers of the State.
"The Parliament lacks the legislative competence for enacting legislation to control the dams. As per Entry 17 in the State List II under the 7th schedule of the Constitution, the Centre has no powers to pass legislation for taking the control of dams. As per the Constitution, the dam is a subject which squarely falls within the legislative domain of the state government," Wilson argued.
He further noted that provisions of Entry 56 in List I allows the centre to control the inter-state rivers only.
"The pith and substance of the legislation challenged involves control over the superstructure of the dam, i.e., the building along with the land upon which it Is built, along with the operation of the dams which runs counter Entry 17 in List II," Wilson argued.
Wilson also noted that Act has deliberately had the word dam in a vague way to grant more powers to the union government to control any dam as a specific dam.
He further wanted a direction to restrain the centre from constituting the national dam safety authority and national dam safety committee as proposed in the impugned Act till the disposal of this matter.
On recording the submissions, the ACG asked the ASG whether the centre has formed any such committee and authority. Since the ASG replied in the negative, the bench ordered not to proceed with any such moves till the petition is disposed of.
As the judges directed the union to file a counter-affidavit, the ASG took notice on behalf of the union government.