‘Final order of tribunal places a burden on us’

Karnataka on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court for expediting the hearing and adjudication of the appeals filed by Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala against the final decision of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal issued on February 5, 2007 in the interest of the States concerned.

The State, in its application, said that “the final order of the tribunal has placed an enormous burden on Karnataka to release 192 tmcft of water at Biligundlu, the inter-State border of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.”

It said: “The tribunal after recording a finding that groundwater available in the delta region of Tamil Nadu was of the order of 20 tmcft (rejecting Karnataka’s contention based on international reports that 129 tmcft was available in Tamil Nadu), failed in its final order (the enforceable part of the order) to account for the same when determining the quantum of water (192 tmcft) Karnataka has to ensure to Tamil Nadu.

“The estimation of water requirement for areas under Grand Anicut as 55 tmcft is ex-facie erroneous since the only evidence of the requirement for areas under the Grand Anicut is in Tamil Nadu’s Mettur report of the year 1921, which estimates the requirement as 42 tmcft.”

Karnataka said that numerous attempts made earlier by the parties to get the appeals listed before a Bench of three judges had so far failed.

It said that in the last hearing on October 18, 2011, the Bench said that let these appeals be listed for final disposal before an appropriate Bench in the February, 2012, but thereafter the matter had not been listed so far.

The State said, “The release of 192 tmcft at the inter-State border Biligundlu is founded on an one-sided colonial and pre-constitutional agreement of February 18, 1924 between the Maharaja of Mysore, ruler of the then vassal State of Mysore on the one hand and the Governor of the British Presidency of Madras on the other, ratified by the extra-legal paramount power through the Secretary of State for India in Council.”

It said that “ignoring the constitutional bar to enforceability arising from Article 363 of the Constitution or otherwise, the tribunal in the final order wrongly held that the bar of Article 363 or otherwise did not apply to the proceedings before it ignoring again the provisions of Article 262 of the Constitution and its interpretation by this court the direction that a quantity of 192 tmcft should be ensured by Karnataka in a normal year has been oppressive.”

It said, “It is in the overall interest of Karnataka and the overall interest of justice to the States concerned that the Civil Appeals of all the three States should be heard at the earliest, so that the vital issues of contention get finally and authoritatively determined by this court.”