Cauvery dispute: Section 144 imposed in Bengaluru till 30 September following SC order

Section 144 was imposed in Bengaluru till 30 September midnight on Tuesday after the Supreme Court directed Karnataka to release 6,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu for three days, ANI reported.

"We direct the state of Karnataka to release 6000 cusecs of water from tomorrow i.e. 28 September, 2016. We are sure that the state of Karnataka shall obey the order without any kind of impediment, obstruction or any other attitude till we take up the matter on September 30," a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and U U Lalit said.

Refusing to go into the issue of non-compliance of its earlier orders by Karnataka for the time being, the court said the water, released so far, will be adjusted in the "eventual adjudication" and Tuesday's order should be complied with "despite the resolution that has been brought on record".

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

"We have issued this direction keeping in mind the deliberation that has taken place and, therefore, we think it appropriate that the state of Karnataka shall follow the order passed by us," the bench said.

"We ingeminate and repeat at the cost of repetition that the direction for release of water has been passed for the coming three days despite the resolution passed," it said.

During the hearing, Nariman came out with all guns blazing, saying "we simply cannot comply with the directions. We accede to the prayers of Tamil Nadu and we should not be heard till end of the (monsoon) season."

The bench said it will hear the state and then asked Karnataka whether the order would be complied at the end of the season.

"Only God knows" was the response of Nariman who said it depended on how much rain the Cauvery basin received due to the north-eastern monsoon.

In its plea before the apex court yesterday, Karnataka had sought modification of its order asking it to release 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu, saying it could release the water only by the end of the year, as it first needs to provide for its own state for drinking purposes.

The Karnataka assembly had last week passed a unanimous resolution during a special session directing the state to release the water only for drinking purposes to Bengaluru and regions surrounding Cauvery basin.

Seeking Centre's assistance for finding a politica solution to the impasse by bringing both chief ministers on the negotiating table, the bench said that it is not the case that this court "cannot adjudicate or pass appropriate orders in accordance with law".

"We have asked for this not because this court cannot adjudicate or pass appropriate orders in accordance with law to maintain and sustain the rule of law and majesty of law which are elan vital of our constitutional law, but prior to that we have thought it appropriate that there has to be discussion" giving regard to the conceptual federalism prevalent in "our democratic body polity", it said.

Senior advocates F S Nariman and Shekhar Naphade, representing Karnataka and Tamil Nadu respectively, agreed to the suggestion mooted by the court for the meeting of heads of two states with the central authorities.

While the order was being dictated by the bench, Nariman, appearing for Karnataka, vehemently opposed any direction asking the state to release water, saying there was "no logic in it" and the order amounted to "a direct confrontation".

Blaming Karnataka's "obstructionist and obstinate" attitude for the impasse and non-compliance of the apex court directives, Naphade, appearing for Tamil Nadu, submitted: "On instruction, I am saying that the state (Tamil Nadu) is fed up. We are simply tired of this litigation. We are not getting what is our legitimate rights."

"We are in a federal structure and in a democracy like India, no state can say it will not obey the Supreme Court's order. You cannot pick up fight with everyone. It is not about Karnataka or Tamil Nadu or any state, there has to be federal cooperativism," the bench said, asking both states to cooperate in finding a solution to the water feud.

The bench, on being repeatedly pursued by Tamil Nadu to get its orders enforced, said, "Have patience for few days.

This is not an ordinary litigation. Let us see how things shape up."

At the outset, the Tamil Nadu counsel said the 20 September order of the apex court asking Karnataka to release 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery water per day to Tamil Nadu has not been complied with and rather, "in complete defiance, a resolution has been passed by their state assembly that it cannot spare water for us."

The counsel for Tamil Nadu said, "Karnataka should not be heard till it complies with the orders."

Naphade said Tamil Nadu was fed up of this litigation and urged the apex court to exercise its "extraordinary" powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to enforce its orders.

Rebutting the submission, Nariman said that monthly installments of water, to be released to Tamil Nadu, can only be assessed at the end of the season and right now, there was insufficient water in Karnataka's reservoirs.

"There is no dispute that monthly allocation is not fixed. That is why the Cauvery Management Board was to decide how much is the rainfall and how much water could be released.

We can understand the difficulties of the state (Karnataka). What is your (Karnataka) suggestion for compliance of directions," the bench observed.

Noticing the conflicting positions of both the states, the bench, which had asked the Attorney General to stay back in the courtroom, came out with the suggestion that he should facilitate a meeting between the heads of the states with the Centre to find a solution to the logjam and apprise it of the outcome on 30 September, the next date of hearing.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Sep 27, 2016 21:19 PM

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