SC seeks info on setting up Cauvery Management Board

SC seeks info on setting up Cauvery Management Board

The top court had on February 16 raised the 270 tmcft share of Cauvery water for Karnataka by 14.75 tmcft.

The Supreme Court on Thursday told the Union government to inform by May 8 about steps taken up for framing a draft scheme for distribution of Cauvery river water among Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.

The top court declined to grant 10 more days time to the Centre as Attorney General K K Venugopal submitted that the draft scheme could not be finalised as the prime minister and other ministers are busy in campaigning for Karnataka elections scheduled to be held May 12.

The court also orally warned the Karnataka government of serious consequences if the state did not release 4 tmcft water by May-end. It later asked the Karnataka government to tell how much water has been released by it.

Hearing a contempt plea filed by the Tamil Nadu government against Union government’s officers, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud told Venugopal that the Centre should have by now finalised the draft scheme. The court had earlier given the Centre time till May 3 for it.

“The draft scheme has to be placed before the Cabinet and the prime minister and other ministers are busy in Karnataka elections,” he responded.

Venugopal also explained the Karnataka chief minister has on April 26 written a letter, asking for a committee to be set up comprising all states’ officials.

Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, representing Tamil Nadu, contended the Union government is taking people from Tamil Nadu for a ride. “Elections in Karnataka are on May 12. The Union government does not want to do it. This is end of cooperative federalism and the Rule of Law. How can they take such a brazen stand?” he asked, terming it a partisan stand of the Centre.

The court, however, said, “The scheme should have been furnished by now. The states have got no role now. Even if you have not been able to frame the scheme, the water must continue to be released.”

As the Tamil Nadu’s counsel contended that the state was being given stepmotherly treatment and temperature, other than due to season, is rising over there, the bench cautioned the Karnataka government, represented by senior advocate Shyam Divan, that it will issue a suo motu contempt against the chief secretary if water is not released as per the schedule.

Divan, for his part, said there has to be some semblance of communication, letter or otherwise to the state on contempt petition. “What for suo motu contempt be issued against us?” he asked.

The court, however, asked the Karnataka government to inform how much water has been released by it.

It put the matter arising out of the contempt petition for non-compliance of the apex court’s judgement on February 16, for consideration on May 8.