Counsel defends law enacted by Kerala

The decision taken by the Kerala Legislature to restrict the water level in the Mullaperiyar dam at 136 ft in view of safety considerations was not a matter for adjudication by the judiciary, asserted senior counsel Harish Salve, in the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Appearing for the State of Kerala, he defended the law enacted by the State and said, “Where the legislature of a State is satisfied that there is a need to curtail the use or storage of a water reservoir to protect its citizenry and elects to enact legislation as a precautionary measure, the legislation cannot be said to be in excess of the legislative competence of the State.”

Making his submissions before a five-judge Constitution Bench, comprising Justices R.M. Lodha, H.L. Dattu, C.K. Prasad, Madan B. Lokur and M.Y. Eqbal, the counsel said, “Kerala Legislature has imposed precautionary measures by placing pro tem restrictions on the storage level of the dams mentioned in the Second Schedule to Sec 62A (2) of the Kerala Amendment Act of 2006 and the said restrictions are based on the legislative wisdom of the Kerala legislature.”

When Justice Lodha asked how 136 ft was arrived at for safety, Mr. Salve said the Kerala government had the right to constitute a committee for afresh look into the matter. If the committee had said the water level had to be reduced or the dam de-commissioned, it could do so.