It will work out modalities and evolve procedure to be adopted

The five-member Empowered Committee headed by the former Chief Justice of India, Justice A.S. Anand, to go into the safety of the Mullaperiyar dam meets here on Monday for the first time after it was constituted pursuant to the orders of the Supreme Court on February 18.

Besides Justice Anand, the members are Justice K.T. Thomas, retired Supreme Court Judge representing Kerala; and Justice A.R. Lakshmanan, retired Supreme Court Judge, representing Tamil Nadu; and the former Secretary to the Ministry of Water Resources, C.D. Thatte; and retired Chief Engineer, Central Water Commission, D.K. Mehta, both representing the Centre.

Highly placed sources told The Hindu that being the first meeting, it would work out the modalities and evolve the procedure to be adopted for the committee. “It is purely an internal meeting. We will first study the order and decide how to proceed further,” the sources said. Asked whether the States would be asked to make submissions or present their case, they said: “Everything would be decided only on Monday. It is premature to say anything at this stage.”

By the order dated February 18, the Supreme Court, acting on a suit filed by Tamil Nadu, directed the constitution of the committee and said the panel would submit its report in six months after considering all aspects, including Kerala's demand for a new dam as well as the safety of the existing one.

Subsequently Tamil Nadu filed an application for recall of the order contending that the relief it asked for in the suit concerned only the question whether Kerala's law was ultra vires the Constitution or not. But the committee had been delegated even judicial powers, which were an exclusive jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.

On March 30, a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Justice D.K. Jain, in a brief order said, “In our view, no ground has been made out for recall of our order. Accordingly the application is dismissed.” Justice D.K. Jain orally observed, “We don't pass orders to make somebody happy or unhappy. We pass orders on the basis of what we feel is right.” The Bench included Justices B. Sudershan Reddy, Mukundakam Sharma, R.M. Lodha and Deepak Verma.