The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed Karnataka to release 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery river water daily to Tamil Nadu from Wednesday for three days, ignoring the resolution passed by the state legislature against it.
“We are sure that Karnataka shall obey the order without any kind of impediment, obstruction or any other attitude,” a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and U U Lalit said, though Karnataka’s counsel, senior advocate F S Nariman, maintained that it would be difficult to release water due to the legislature’s resolution passed on September 23.
As Tamil Nadu’s counsel senior advocate Shekhar Naphade contended that the state suffered due to the obstinate attitude of Karnataka, the bench said, “We have a federal structure. Every state has to understand that you can’t fight with everyone. There has to be federal cooperation.”
The court asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to suggest ways to end the “impasse” and resolve the dispute between the two states, as both Houses of the Karnataka legislature had passed the resolution saying they will draw Cauvery water only for drinking. He sought two days’ time and agreed to convene a meeting of the top executives of the two states.
“Can we say the central government will mediate,” the bench asked him. To this, Rohatgi said, “I can facilitate the meeting of the executives of the two states.” The court put the matter for further consideration on September 30.
“We think it appropriate that Karnataka shall follow the order passed by us. We ingeminate and repeat at the cost of repetition that the direction for release of water has been passed for the coming three days despite the resolution passed,” the bench said.
The court did not agree to a plea by Karnataka’s counsel Nariman, supported by Harish Salve, for not mentioning the legislature’s resolution in its order. This was strongly objected to by Tamil Nadu’s counsel Naphade who contended, “A party which defies the order says don’t record it... We are at the end of our tethers. We are simply tired and fed up with it. Our legitimate right is being denied. We don’t have the means to fight it,” he said.
The bench, however, advised him, “Let’s wait for three days and see how things shape up.” “We have asked for this (meeting) not because this court cannot adjudicate or pass appropriate orders in accordance with law to maintain and sustain the rule of law and majesty of law which are elan vital of our constitutional law, but prior to that we have thought it appropriate that there has to be discussion, regard being had to the conceptual federalism prevalent in our democratic body polity,” the bench recorded in its order.
At the outset, Nariman submitted that the matter should be deferred to a date in November or December, as by then Tamil Nadu would receive the North-East monsoon. He said the water released to Tamil Nadu should be computed at the end of the season. He also submitted that Tamil Nadu’s plea for not hearing Karnataka should be acceded to.
Tamil Nadu’s counsel termed the plea “procrastination”. “If the court feels they (Karnataka) are entitled to be heard despite defiance, I have no problem,” he said. “We can understand the difficulty faced by you. You passed the resolution but that’s another matter... you make some effort to release water,” the bench told Karnataka’s counsel.