PM can review water release order, says SC

Apex court expresses unhappiness over ongoing agitations

PM can review water release order, says SC

The Supreme Court on Monday indicated that the prime minister, who heads the Cauvery River Authority (CRA), can convene its meeting to review the apex court order asking Karnataka to comply with the CRA’s direction to release 9,000 cusecs of water daily to Tamil Nadu.

The court’s brief order came after senior Karnataka counsel Fali S Nariman submitted that Karnataka was not in a position to release any more water and that it has exceeded the stipulated releases.

“We will not be able to release anything more. It is physically impossible to release water,” he told the court.

A Bench of Justices D K Jain and Madan B Lokur passed the brief order on a request made by Nariman and said it would not come in the way of the prime minister-headed body in deciding the review plea made by the upper riparian state.

At the outset, Nariman submitted that the State had at times exceeded the stipulated daily release of 9,000 cusecs of Cauvery water.

However, he said the court should clarify its previous order that it would not come as impediment before the CRA in deciding the review plea of the State. “We want only direction that the order should not prevent or preclude the prime minister from reviewing the order,” Nariman said.

On September 28, the court had directed Karnataka to release water to Tamil Nadu till October 15 as directed by the CRA.

The court, however, seemed unhappy with the on-going agitations across Karnataka. “All these agitations don’t serve any purpose. They spoil the good (atmosphere),” the court observed.

Appearing for Tamil Nadu, senior advocate C S Vaidyanathan contended that there was no power of review and the chairman of the CRA could not do it on his own. He said it was a very sensitive issue and the chairman cannot pass order independently.

On this, the court observed: “What is sensitive is the light of the farmers. What is being made sensitive is something we don’t want to comment upon.”

The court deferred the hearing on the application filed by Karnataka, seeking modification or stay of the order passed to release 9,000 cusecs water daily as per the September 19 direction of the CRA.

The Bench agreed with Nariman’s contention that the last paragraph of its order was capable of conveying this impression that the CRA’s decision had got a “seal of approval.”
Vaidyanathan, however, submitted that the court’s order should not be seen as conferring power on something for which there was none.

“We can’t confer any power on the executive head,” the court remarked. The counsel for Tamil Nadu, again, submitted, “the court’s clarification should not be used as a handle that chairperson has the power to review the CRA’s order.”

The court posed the matter for further hearing on October 12.

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