“This could be because of next year’s Assembly elections in Karnataka”

Tamil Nadu on Monday blamed the Centre for the Cauvery Monitoring Committee (CMC) not taking a decision on the ‘distress formula’ and said this could be because of next year’s Assembly elections in Karnataka.

Senior counsel C.S. Vaidyanathan told a Bench of Justices D.K. Jain and Madan B Lokur, quoting the last order passed by the CMC, that “the rainy season and the agricultural season are so well known and it is rather strange for the CMC to suggest that there is any doubt or ambiguity, which requires clarification, and which the CMC is purportedly unable to decide.”

Counsel said, “It is apparently an excuse for the CMC in not taking a decision and giving directions regarding release of water to Tamil Nadu in respect of the shortfall during the southwest monsoon as per the orders of the Supreme Court.”

The Bench was hearing an application from Tamil Nadu for a direction to the Karnataka Government to release 30 tmcft of water to save the samba crop stating it had already lost the kuruvai.

Senior counsel Fali Nariman, appearing for Karnataka, said the CMC, being a technical expert body, should be allowed to take decisions and the court should not pass any ad hoc orders.

To a question from Justice Jain, Mr. Nariman conceded that this year was one of the worst deficit years.

When Mr. Justice Jain asked, “What is Karnataka’s reaction on release of water” Mr. Nariman said, “Violently no as a counsel would react.”

At this stage Mr. Vaidyanathan intervened and explained how the CMC, for “strange reasons,” had passed its previous order without addressing the issue of deficit.

“It is total abdication of responsibility and the CMC had given extraordinary reasons for not deciding the question of distress formula. We don’t know the real reason, may be they don’t want to give directions because Karnataka is going to have elections next year.”

When Mr. Justice Jain told counsel not to drag in such matters, Mr. Vaidyanathan said, “But it is a fact, what else can you say.”

He said, “The contention of Karnataka that the ‘season’ ends only on January 31 and it is only thereafter that the distress should be determined, clearly means that Tamil Nadu will lose the standing crops.”