Supreme Court decision after considering status report

The Supreme Court on Wednesday extended till February 29, 2012, the tenure of the Empowered Committee headed by former Chief Justice of India A.S. Anand to go into certain issues in the Mullaperiyar dam dispute between Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

A five-judge Constitution Bench, comprising Justices D.K. Jain, Mukundakam Sharma, R.M. Lodha, Deepak Verma and C.K. Prasad, extended the tenure taking into consideration the status report submitted by the Empowered Committee and the fact that its term was due to end on October 31.

The Bench asked the committee to submit its report to the court by February 29, 2012.

Senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan, who appeared for Kerala, wanted the court to refer the applications filed by Tamil Nadu to the committee.

Earlier, the Bench referred to the status report wherein it was mentioned that the Centre was yet to respond to the committee's request for appointing a consultant and asked senior counsel Ashok Bhan, appearing for the Centre, whether approval had been granted or not.

Mr. Bhan told the court that the request was under process and he had no further instructions and the court could pass appropriate orders.

Annoyed at this response, Justice Jain told counsel: “We don't assemble here for fun. There is no senior counsel from the Centre and the present counsel doesn't have any instructions. Your Ministry wants the court to pass orders. Everyday, we hear the government saying the court passed orders. The Centre wants it. Then they say it is overreach by the court.” The Bench directed the Centre to pass orders on the committee's request in two weeks. It said that applications filed by Tamil Nadu opposing Kerala's stand on construction of new Mullaperiyar dam would be taken up for hearing after the committee submitted its report.

When senior counsel Vinod Bobde, appearing for Tamil Nadu, referred to the Kerala Governor's address in the Assembly that construction on the new dam would commence before December, Justice Jain observed: “These statements are made out of compulsions. There are no meanings attached to it.”

Justice Lodha said, “As and when physical activity on construction of a new dam takes place you [Tamil Nadu] can come to us.”