Tamil Nadu on Wednesday filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking contempt of court proceedings against Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shivappa Shettar and four others for “brazen and wilful” defiance of the court’s February 7 order to release 2.44 tmcft of Cauvery water.

“Tamil Nadu, with deep regret and utmost humility, is bringing to the notice of this court the brazen, wilful, deliberate defiance of the order… by the respondents and the unconstitutional and contumacious conduct indulged in by the respondents with deliberate intent to undermine the dignity and respect of the highest court of the land,” it said.

Karnataka deliberately started releasing about 2,000 cusecs from the Krishna Raja Sagar (KRS) dam so that it could plead that it had complied with the order. But in effect, it has wilfully disobeyed the order by releasing a very low quantum from the KRS and Kabini reservoirs. The realisation in the Mettur dam was 127 cusecs as on February 12, the petition said.

If the situation persisted, the realisation of 2.44 tmcft at the Mettur dam would take about 220 days, “which is neither the purport of, nor the directions contained” in the order, it said.

The petition cited Mr. Shettar as the first respondent, followed by Minister for Water Resources Basavaraj S. Bommai (second); Chief Secretary S.V. Ranganath (third); D. Satya Murty, Principal Secretary, Water Resources Department (fourth); and P.G. Gurupadaswamy, Secretary, Water Resources Department (fifth). It held them directly responsible for the implementation of the order. “Unless a sufficient quantum, in the order of 12,000 cusecs, is released from the KRS and Kabini reservoirs forthwith, it will not be possible to realise 2.44 tmcft at the Mettur reservoir within the next few days. … Karnataka is, therefore, duty-bound to implement and comply with the order… in letter and in spirit so that the 2.44 tmcft is received by Tamil Nadu within a reasonable period of three to four days,” the petition said.

“Karnataka is wilfully disobeying the orders of this court and defeating the objective for which it was directed to replenish the Mettur dam with 2.44 tmcft. It is stated that the State government and its functionaries, including the respondents, appear to believe that they can defy with impunity the orders of this court and treat them with contempt. The prestige and dignity of this court are at stake, and if the political and executive wing of a State government believes that their partisan interests should prevail over those of the nation, and the due implementation of the orders of this court and the constitutional provisions, the result will be total anarchy, and the very foundation of constitutional democracy and independent judiciary, and the continuance of the quasi-federal structure of the constitution will be in jeopardy. … such an act of defiance by the respondents has precipitated a situation in which the governance of the State is not being carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution,” the petition said.

“… Tamil Nadu and its inhabitants have been put to immense suffering and misery by such inhuman and unconstitutional action of the respondents. The available storage in [the] Mettur [dam] will not be sufficient even to meet the drinking water requirements and other communal needs in the coming months,” Tamil Nadu said.

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