Madras High Court orders notice to Centre on petition challenging Dam Safety Act

DMK MP S Ramalingam's petition challenged the vires of the Dam Safety Act 2021 on various grounds including the legislative competence of the Parliament to legislate the Act.

Published: 11th January 2022 12:01 PM  |   Last Updated: 11th January 2022 12:01 PM   |  A+A-

Madras High Court.

Madras High Court.

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Tuesday, January 11, 2022, ordered notice to the Centre on a petition challenging the ‘legislative competence’ of the Parliament in enacting the Dam Safety Act, 2021.

The petition filed by DMK Lok Sabha Member S Ramalingam, representing Mayiladuthurai constituency, came up for hearing before the first bench of Acting Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and justice PD Audikesavalu.

Senior counsel and DMK’s MP P Wilson appeared for the petitioner. He contended the Parliament had no legislative competence to legislate laws on List II entry 17 of the Constitution and it is against ‘cooperative federalism’.

He also sought the court to restrain the Centre from constituting the Dam Safety Authority and the National Committee for Dam Safety as contemplated in the Act.

After hearing the submissions, the bench ordered notice to the Centre and directed it to file the counter-affidavit by three weeks. The matter was adjourned for three weeks.

The petition challenged the vires of the Dam Safety Act 2021 on various grounds including the legislative competence of the Parliament to legislate the Act whereas the subject is in State’s domain.

It alleged the Act has the effect of taking control over all major dams in the State and the Union is taking steps to constitute National Committee on dam safety and National Dam Safety Authority.

 The states will completely be denuded with the control over dams located inside and outside their territory under the Act, the DMK MP stated.

The Dam Safety Act, 2021, enacted in December, met with stiff resistance from the opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha. They objected to various provisions including the setting up of the National Committee on Dam Safety which will have only seven representatives from the States.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK president MK Stalin too had opposed the Act saying it is aimed at usurping the powers of the States and an attack on the federal principles.

The State has been grappling with legal fights over its due share of water from the inter-State rivers including Cauvery, Palar and Periyar. The Central Act is considered to deal a big blow to it regarding dam maintenance and water supply.


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