Cauvery row: SC to see if pre-1956 pacts relevant

Cauvery row: SC to see if  pre-1956 pacts relevant

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would consider if the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal should have gone into river water agreements between the then Madras Presidency and erstwhile ruler of the Mysore State in 1892 and 1924 in determining the quantum of water for Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and others.

A three-judge bench presided over by Justice Dipak Misra started final hearing on civil appeals filed by Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry against the final decision of the tribunal of 2007.

As senior advocate F S Nariman, representing Karnataka made his preliminary submission including background of the water sharing dispute, the bench also comprising Justices Amitava Roy and A M Khanwilkar said, “We will decide whether the tribunal should have gone into those agreements and if those agreements still survived after the Constitution came into force.” “The question is if the agreements between Mysore ruler and Madras Presidency could be relied upon even after the (new) states came into existence by an Act of Parliament in 1956,” the bench said.

The bench also said it would look into legality of the tribunal’s reliance on the Cauvery water sharing practice started since 1799 between the provinces. “We would consider if the tribunal’s decision was based on the principles of common sense, equity and justice,” the bench said, indicating that they would take three weeks time to deliver the judgement in the pending dispute.

The court, which put the matter for further hearing on March 21, said it would wish the counsel from states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala and the Union Territory of Puducherry to wrap up their advancing of arguments by April 11. Meanwhile, the court refused a plea made by senior advocate Shekhar Naphade on behalf of Tamil Nadu, for deciding its application against Kerala's move to build check dams across the Bhavani river and its tributaries.

In a related decision, the court decided to de-tag an original suit filed by Andhra Pradesh in connection with the dispute after the counsel of different states agreed for it. Andhra Pradesh has raised the issue of sharing water of tributaries of the Cauvery river as the state was part of the erstwhile Madras Presidency.

The Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal, set up on June, 2, 1990, announced its final order in 2007 allocating 419 tmcft water to Tamil Nadu and 270 tmcft to Karnataka. Kerala was given 30 tmcft and Puducherry got 7 tmcft. The tribunal had come to a conclusion that total availability of water in Cauvery basin stood at 740 tmcft.
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