The Supreme Court was told by the Centre today that forming the Cauvery Water Management Board is the sole prerogative of Parliament and that any court did not have the jurisdiction to issue any direction to government on this.
“The constitution of the Cauvery Water Management Board requires the consent of both houses of Parliament and that it cannot be formed on the orders of the apex court”, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi informed a bench headed by justice Dipak Misra.
The matter will be taken up for hearing tomorrow. Meanwhile Karnataka has been ordered by the Supreme Court to stop defying its orders and confirm, by tomorrow, if it has released water from the River Cauvery to neighbour Tamil Nadu.
Setting the stage for further confrontation with the Supreme Court, the Karnataka government on Saturday filed a fresh review petition in the Supreme Court against its three recent orders on Cauvery water release to Tamil Nadu and direction for constitution of Cauvery Water Management Board by Centre.
“Undue hardship will be caused to us and there will be grave miscarriage of justice”, said the petition.
In its review petition, it said grave miscarriage of justice has been caused to it pursuant to three orders of the apex court dated September 20, 27 and September 30, by which it directed the state to release 6000 cusecs of water till October 6 and constitution of board by Centre till October 4.
Expressing serious concern at the continuing stalemate between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu on the Cauvery water sharing issue, the Supreme Court had on Friday asked the Centre to constitute a Cauvery Water Management Board within three days.
The panel’s mandate is to check the ground reality after a visit to the site and report back to the apex court on October six when the bench will hear the matter next.
The bench of justices Dipak Misra and U U Lalit asked Karnataka to release Cauvery water from October 1 to six
The bench had warned Karnataka that it was the last chance before the “wrath of law falls on the State”
WHAT IT SAYS
The review petitions said that apex court has committed an error in directing the Centre to constitute Cauvery Management Board, without considering the fact that three judges of apex court has held in 2013 that direction to constitute the board can wait and may be heard along with the civil appeal. The court has not taken the cognisance of the fact that the constitution of the Cauvery Management Board, being Legislative in character, depends upon the authority exercising the power as well as the nature of the function and obligation arising from the Legislation, it said in the review plea.
Karnataka further said the apex court is not correct in directing the constitution of board which is the subject matter of the challenge under the appeal and is pending consideration before this court specially when the board is vested with the powers and functions which are not only unnecessary and intrude into Legislative and Executive power of the state.
Continuing with its efforts to resolve the water dispute between the two southern states, the Supreme Court had on September 27 asked Karnataka to release 6000 cusecs of water for two days to Tamil Nadu and made it clear that “this is to show its bona fide”.
On that day the court had said “We just cannot imagine how in a federal structure like India a state can say it will not obey the SC order and pick up a fight with another state. It is not permissible”.
Adjourning the matter to today, the court also asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to facilitate a meeting between the executive heads of the two States and the Centre to resolve the impasse.
It is to be noted that the fresh hearing was necessitated after Karnataka government moved the court again on Monday for permission to postpone the implementation of its order to release water to Tamil Nadu till January 2017.
Rohatgi had assured the court that the Centre would attempt to resolve the issue by calling a meeting between the chief ministers of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka “in the next two days”.
“Take all steps to resolve the issue and get back by Friday. We are adjourning the matter in the interest of a peaceful resolution”, the bench told the AG.
“We are fed up with the unending litigation over sharing of Cauvery water. The situation has arisen time and again because of Karnataka's obstructionist and obstinate attitude”, Tamil Nadu’s lawyer told the court.
SC had refused to take into account Karnataka Assembly resolution not to release Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu.
The judges told the counsel for Karnataka Fali Nariman to tell chief minister Siddaramaiah that Supreme Court orders be better complied with. “We just cannot imagine how in a federal structure like India a state can say it will not obey the SC order and pick up a fight with another state. It is not permissible” the bench said.
On Monday, Karnataka moved the Supreme Court seeking a modification of the September 20th order, requiring the state to release 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu every day from September 21st to 26th.
The state claimed that it could not release any water to Tamil Nadu because it has to secure drinking water for its own needs.
In its affidavit, Karnataka said, “The Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal in its final order dated 05.2.2007 in Clause IV had allocated each party state’s share at 50% dependability – i.e. such share available only in two out of four years: but water for drinking purposes has to be supplied on priority in every year – that is to say at 100% dependability.
It is respectfully submitted that in a year of insufficient rainfall and distress, the state is nonetheless obliged to reserve for supply to inhabitants water at national standards norms (viz. 135 litres per capital per day) in urban areas and (70 litres per capital per day) in rural areas.
In discussions between representatives of government and the irrigation authorities of the state on September 16th, it was decided to take steps to ensure drinking water in Cauvery Basin to inhabitants.” So, Karnataka has asked the court to issue directions based on the stock of water before the water season ends on January 1st.
This comes from the state assembly resolution that was passed unanimously in Karnataka last week declaring that water will not be drawn from the reservoirs, except for drinking water purposes. In quick response, Tamil Nadu filed a counter affidavit stating that Karnataka’s plea for modification must not be entertained as it would dilute the court’s order. The court, in this case, has issued three interim orders so far.
First, Karnataka was asked on September 5th by the SC to release 15,000 cusecs of water per day till September 16th. This order was revised on September 12th to 12,000 cusecs of water per day till September 20th. The interim orders have come under serious criticism from all corners. Taking note of that, the court asked the Centre to set up the Cauvery Management Board within four weeks from September 20th.