Supreme Court has issued notice in an Appeal – SLP against Delhi High Court’s dismissal of a PIL a direction to the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) and the Union of India (UOI) to price the groundwater resource in a manner that discourages its wasteful use, by mandating installation of meters for every groundwater user / installation, including on construction sites, as is done in the case of water being supplied by the Delhi Jal Board.
The PIL claims that underground water forms part of natural resources and of which Government is the guardian and has the responsibility to ensure that the same is distributed to subserve the common good. It further claimed that the wastage of this precious resource by those who have been able to obtain groundwater installations, violates Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.
Observing that groundwater is a common resource and ought to be regulated, a bench led by Justice JS Thakur asked the governments to reply within six weeks.
Appeal has been filed against the 22 April 2015 order of the Delhi High Court where it had observed:
4. In our opinion, the decision whether groundwater is allowed to be drawn free or to be made a paid commodity is a policy matter outside the domain of the Courts and it is not for the Courts to adjudicate whether it should be free or the consumers thereof be made to pay therefor to the Government
5. The counsel for the petitioner has been unable to cite any obligation of the Government to charge for the groundwater or a duty of the people to pay therefor. Similarly, the counsel for the petitioner has been unable to cite any principle on the anvil whereof it can be said that the failure of the Government to charge for groundwater is such which requires intervention of the Court.
7. There is thus no merit in the petition which is dismissed. We refrain from imposing any costs on the petitioner.