SC to hear TN's plea for contempt action against Centre on Apr 9

The Supreme Court on Monday assured Tamil Nadu that it will get its due share of Cauvery river water. It also agreed to hear a plea for contempt action against the Centre for "wilful disobedience" of its February 16 order to formulate a scheme within six weeks on water allocation among the riparian states.

A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra posted the application filed by Tamil Nadu for consideration on April 9 after advocate for Tamil Nadu G Umapathy made a plea for an urgent hearing.

The counsel contended that the Centre did not act on 'framing of scheme' as per the decision of the apex court. He insisted Cauvery Management Board and Cauvery Water Regulation Committee could not be constituted by March 30, the time-frame fixed by the court.

The CJI orally observed that the term "scheme" used in the judgement does not mean Cauvery Management Board only. Whatever the nomenclature of the implementing authority, the judgement giving every interested state its due share of the river water has to be complied with, he said.

The Union government had on Saturday filed a plea before the court seeking three more months to implement the judgement on distribution of Cauvery river water, saying framing a scheme after announcement of Karnataka Assembly elections may evoke public outrage as Cauvery water sharing was an emotive issue.

'Wilful disobedience'

In its application, Tamil Nadu, for its part, sought contempt action against Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha and Water Resources Secretary U P Singh. The top court had on February 16 directed additional intake of 14.75 TMC ft of Cauvery water for Karnataka by reducing the overall quantum for Tamil Nadu. It had upheld the principles adopted by the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal in its decision on February 5, 2007 on distribution and allocation of the river water among states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.

"In the absence of any cogent reasons in not constituting Cauvery Management Board and Cauvery Water Regulation Committee within the time-frame and not taking any substantial step amounts to wilful disobedience of the judgement of this court," Tamil Nadu had said.

Ensuring timely release of water is apparent in the judgement and any delay would prejudice farmers of the state, it contended.

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