SC asks Centre to submit Cauvery draft scheme

The Supreme Court on Monday pulled up the Union government for failing to frame a scheme for implementing its February 16 judgement on sharing Cauvery river water by Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry.

The top court ordered the Centre to submit a draft scheme on May 3. The court directed both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka governments to ensure that people maintained peace till it put the stamp of approval on the final scheme.

"We have passed our judgement after much study and difficulty. They are bound to frame a scheme. They are obligated to do it. Our order has to be complied with. We want the water to be released as per our order," a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said.

Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, representing the Tamil Nadu government, submitted that the scheme to be framed according to the judgement, has not been done by March 30.

He was arguing on an application filed by the state for seeking contempt action against top officials of the Union government.

Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, submitted that so far, the Union government has sent notices to the four states and sought their opinions on framing the scheme.

"They (states) have got no roles. That stage is gone. This can't happen," the bench said.

Naphade then submitted that the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal had directed setting up of the Cauvery Management Board. He said the state was suffering due to non-release of water.

On this, the bench said, "The tribunal's order has now got merged with our judgement."

"We can't monitor the matter for a long time. We do not know why you did not do it (frame the scheme) and why you did not show your resolve to do it. You file a scheme, we will issue directions to implement it," the bench told Venugopal.

The court gave the top law officer time till May 3 to submit a draft scheme.

The Union government had earlier filed an application seeking three more months to work out the modalities of water-sharing, citing the Karnataka elections on May 12 and saying the issue had an "emotive" value over there.

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