Apex court slams govt for failing to provide house to tribunal chief

Apex court slams govt for failing to provide house to tribunal chief

The Supreme Court on Tuesday reiterated its displeasure at the Centre’s failure to allocate a government bungalow to the Chairman of Mahadayi Inter-State Water Dispute Tribunal, despite its availability.

A bench of Justices R M Lodha and A R Dave gave time to Attorney General G E Vahanvati to settle the issue after he promised to personally take up the matter with higher authorities.The court wanted to know what came in the way of the government making the allocation after being notified that four bungalows were available in Type VIII category.

The bench reminded the Centre that they had passed an order and yet the government kept taking “shelter” under policy.“We have already held that policy cannot override statutes,” the court said, adding that the Rules framed under Section 13 of the Inter-State River Water Disputes Tribunal, 1956 explicitly made provision for accommodation for the chairman.

The court on October 1, had given the Centre four weeks time to file an affidavit giving details of the number of bungalows available under  Types VII and VIII.

“Some more time has been sought for filing the affidavit but we are not convinced by the request. We asked the Attorney General to appear. It has been brought to our notice that the Secretary to the Union Government had prepared the affidavit and verified it on October 15 but could not file it,” the court noted, posting the matter for further hearing to November 5.The court was unhappy with a letter written by the directorate of estate, Water Resources Ministry on April 20 this year stating that according to policy, the tribunal chairman and members were not eligible for accommodation under general pool. 

The court was hearing an interim application filed by advocate A Subhashini on behalf of Goa, pointing out that non-availability of accommodation had affected the functioning of the tribunal headed by former SC judge Justice J M Panchal.