Karnataka government moved the apex court in the morning for permission to postpone the implementation of the Supreme Court order to release Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu till January 2017. It said it has come to court after witnessing its people’s “acute situation of distress” due to scarcity of drinking water.
The State, represented by SC advocate Mohan Katarki, reproduced the unanimous resolution passed by both Houses of the State on September 23, 2016, that no water should be taken from its reservoirs except to meet the drinking water requirements of the people of the State, including the entire city of Bengaluru.
In short, Karnataka wants the Supreme Court to modify its September 20 order directing the State to release 6000 cusecs of Cauvery water every day to Tamil Nadu till September 27. It said this amount of water, for the time being, would have to be treated as “arrears” to be paid back to Tamil Nadu by the end of the season.
Within hours of the filing of this application, Tamil Nadu hit back by filing an application of its own followed by an urgent mentioning in the post-lunch session before a Bench led by Justice Dipak Misra. The Bench agreed to list the application on September 27.
Tamil Nadu asked the apex court to not entertain any one of Karnataka’s pleas until it complied with each and every one of the series of three orders the Supreme Court passed in September for release of Cauvery water. It called Karnataka’s manoeuvres as a “conscious refusal” to release water to Tamil Nadu.
“Court’s dignity at stake”
“The State of Karnataka is acting as judge in its own cause and refusing to comply with the orders passed by this court by consciously failing to ensure the release in spite of the matter being sub-judice before this court,” the Tamil Nadu application filed by advocate G. Umapathy said.
Tamil Nadu countered that Karnataka’s stand that it required the entire storage of water in its four reservoirs to meet drinking water requirements was “totally untenable”.
Tamil Nadu highlighted how Karnataka had issued an Ordinance in 1991 to stall the release of Cauvery water. On that occasion, the Supreme Court, while quashing the ordinance, had termed Karnataka’s move as “an invitation to lawlessness and anarchy”.
It said the State’s ordinance was seen by the apex court as “a manifestation of a desire on the part of the State to be a judge in its own cause and to defy the decisions of the judicial authorities”.
Tamil Nadu said the Supreme Court should enforce its orders in order to prevent any “evil consequences to the federal structure”. The partisan interests of a State cannot be allowed to prevail over the interests of other States.
“The prestige and dignity of this Court is at stake,” Tamil Nadu countered.