Contending that Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shivappa Shettar and six others had brazenly and wilfully disobeyed the September 28 order to release 9000 cusecs of water, the Tamil Nadu government on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against them.
Besides the Chief Minister, others against whom contempt plea is sought are: Basavaraj S. Bommai, Minister of Water Resources; S.V. Ranganath, Chief Secretary; D. Satya Murty, Secretary, Water Resources Department; M. Bangara Swamy, Chief Engineer (Inter-State Waters), Water Resources Development Organisation; Shankar Gowda, Superintending Engineer, KRS Dam, Mysore, and Vijay Kumar, Executive Engineer, Cauvery Neervari Nigam Limited, Bangaore, Karnataka.
(On October 12, 2002 the Supreme Court had issued contempt notices to the then Karnataka Chief Minister S. M. Krishna; State's Water Resources Minister H. K. Patil and State Chief Secretary A. Ravindra on a petition from Tamil Nadu seeking contempt action against them for rejecting the court order to give Tamil Nadu 9,000 cusecs of Cauvery water daily. The court had observed, “We are prima facie of the view that a deliberate non-compliance of the orders had taken place and it is contempt. If an elected government says because of law and order problem, it cannot comply with our order, then let it go. You have come to that. These man-made situations to flout court orders should stop. You get political mileage out of it and we will not allow that. Later they tendered unconditional apology.”)
In the present application, Tamil Nadu said, “With deep regret and utmost humility, the State is bringing to the notice of this Court, the brazen, wilful, deliberate defiance of the orders passed by this court by the Respondents and the unconstitutional and contumacious conduct indulged in by them with deliberate intent to undermine the dignity and respect of the highest court of the land and of high constitutional office holders.”
Tamil Nadu, further, pointed out that on October 8, counsel for Karnataka wanted the court to defer hearing of its application till October 12 and counsel did not seek stay of the September 28 order directing release of 9,000 cusecs of water till October 15. It said, “It is obvious therefore that they knew that they have to comply with the orders passed by this Court and had proceeded on the premise that they would do so. Several protests, rallies / bandhs were instigated and orchestrated by interested partisan and parochial interests in the Cauvery Basin districts of Karnataka opposing the release of water to the State of Tamil Nadu ever since the order was passed on September 28. As a culmination thereof, after the hearing of the case on October 8, several statements were made by the Chief Minister to the effect that no water would be released to Tamil Nadu. Thereafter, the releases to Tamil Nadu from the reservoir in KRS were stopped at 7 p.m. from October 8 on the instructions of the Chief Minister and other high dignitaries of the State of Karnataka.”
Tamil Nadu said, “The Karnataka government and its functionaries, including the Respondents, appear to believe that they can defy, with impunity, the orders of this Court and treat it with contempt. It would indeed be a sad day for the democracy and the rule of law in the country if they can get away with such disregard and defiance. The prestige and dignity of this Court is at stake and if the political and executive wing of a State Government believes that their partisan interests should prevail over the interests of and the integrity of the nation, and the due implementation of the orders of this Court and the Constitutional provisions, the result would be total anarchy and the very foundation of constitutional democracy, independent judiciary and continuance of quasi-federal structure of the Constitution would be in jeopardy…”