Cauvery water dispute: SC directs Karnataka to release 12,000 cusecs per day to Tamil Nadu

New Delhi: Asking both the states to ensure that "law and order" prevails, the Supreme Court on Monday modified its earlier order on sharing of Cauvery water, directing Karnataka to release 12,000 cusecs instead of 15,000 cusecs per day till 20 September to Tamil Nadu.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Rejecting Karnataka's plea seeking placing in abeyance for a week its earlier order, the court asked the executives to ensure compliance.

The apex court bench, which sat on a holiday, was critical of the language used in the fresh plea of Karnataka seeking to keep in abeyance the 5 September order asking it to release 15,000 cusecs water per day to Tamil Nadu.

"In the affidavit of urgency in support of taking up of the application for hearing, if we allow ourselves to say so, is absolutely disturbing and to say the least, totally deprecable...That apart, the application for modification contains certain averments which follow the tenor of similar language which cannot be conceived of to be filed in a court of law, seeking modification of an order.

"Agitation in spontaneity or propelled by some motivation or galvanized by any kind of catalystic component, can never form the foundation for seeking modification of an order," a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and U U Lalit said, adding the Executive cannot take the plea of "law and order" for not obeying the judicial order unless it is modified.

The citizens cannot become "law unto themselves", it said.

"We are inclined to modify the order dated 5 September, 2016, to the extent that the State of Karnataka shall release 12000 cusecs of water per day and the said direction, shall remain in force till 20 September, 2016.

"We expect the inhabitants of states, namely, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, shall behave regard being had to the respect for law and order and the Executive of both the states are under constitutional obligation to see that the law and order prevails," it said and fixed the plea for hearing on September 20 after the supervisory committee adjudicates it.

It said there was no room for non-compliance unless the order is modified.

"Concept of deviancy has no room; and disobedience has no space. The citizens cannot become law unto themselves. When a court of law passes an order, it is the sacred duty of the citizens to obey the same. If there is any grievance, they are obligated under the law to take recourse to permissible legal remedies. The tenor of application filed by Karnataka does not reflect so, but, on the contrary, demonstrates otherwise. We decry it," it said.

Referring to the September 5 order, the apex court said, "It is clear as noon day that Karnataka, as a good gesture, had offered 0.86 TMC, that is, 10000 cusecs of water per day and out of the said water, Tamil Nadu was required to release water proportionally to the Union Territory of Puducherry.

"Today, the prayer is to keep the entire order in abeyance. The prayer for abeyance does not commend us. Wereject the same," it said.

The bench rejected the plea for keeping the order in abeyance on the ground of prevailing law and order situation in Karnataka and considered the submission of senior advocate F S Nariman, appearing for the state, that the fresh plea was not "happily worded".

Karnataka, in its plea, had referred to "spontaneous agitations in the various parts" of the state and had sought an order from the apex court saying that normal life has been paralysed due to protests that have also led to large-scale destruction of public and private properties.

"We must again, despite the repetition, note the acceptance with anguish and regret by Nariman that pleading in the application and also in the affidavit filed for urgency, are not appropriate.

"However, as Nariman has expressed regret and we have blamed the state authorities and stated that it is the duty of the Executive to maintain law and order and see that the order of the court is complied with, we do not intend to say anything further on that score," it said.

Karnataka vociferously highlighted that it also facing drinking water crisis, besides the fact that "sufferings of the farmers are immense".

Nariman also accused Tamil Nadu of unnecessarily raising the issue of agony of farmers and said that moreover, the total water in the reservoir in Karnataka is less than that of the total water in the reservoir in Tamil Nadu.

He said that Karnataka has released approximately 84,168 cusecs of water at Biligundulu from 5 September to 12 September and by the end of today it may exceed one lakh cusecs.

Rebutting the submission, senior advocates Shekhar Naphade and Rakseh Dwivedi, appearing for Tamil Nadu, said that it was evident that Karnataka has released "only the inflows received by it and the depletion in storage (of Karnataka) is due to its own drawal and not on account of release to Tamil Nadu as alleged by Karnataka".

Fifty TMCs of water are required to be stored by Tamil Nadu for the purpose of sustained relief for the relevant period, they said, adding that it has made an "internal arrangement for its own protection" and Karnataka can neither question it nor flout the final order on release of water.

The court said that it would hear the matter on 20 September again after the supervisory committee decides it.

The supervisory committee is an expert body and it was constituted on 22 May, 2013 and is required to take a decision in conformity with the final order of the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal, it said.

Updated Date: Sep 12, 2016 18:55 PM

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