The Supreme Court will deliver its verdict on Wednesday on the suit filed by Tamil Nadu questioning the law passed by Kerala in 2006, constituting the Dam Safety Authority to prevent the State from raising the water level in the Mullaperiyar dam from 136 ft. to 142 ft.
A five-Judge Constitution Bench of Justice R.M. Lodha, Justice H.L. Dattu, Justice C.K. Prasad, Justice Madan B. Lokur, and Justice M.Y. Eqbal had reserved verdict in August last.
Tamil Nadu filed the suit in 2006, soon after the law was enacted within few days of the pronouncement of the judgment allowing the State to raise water level from 136 ft. up to 142 ft.
The Bench in 2010 had appointed an empowered committee headed by former Chief Justice of India A.S. Anand to go into the safety aspects and the report was submitted in April 2012.
Tamil Nadu said the law empowered Kerala’s Dam Safety Authority to reach its own findings as to the safety of the dam and to direct it to suspend or restrict the functioning of the Mullaperiyar dam or even decommission the dam and the State was obliged to comply with such directives.
It argued that by enacting the law, the Kerala had not only encroached into the province of the judiciary but had also disobeyed the apex court judgment.
By enacting the law, Kerala had nullified the judgment and usurped judicial power.
However, Kerala had justified the law on the ground that it was intended to protect the safety of its people. Kerala’s case was that the impugned law related primarily to the modification of contractual rights under an agreement created prior to the commencement of the Constitution. It restricted the rights to use within the State of Kerala and a dam constructed within the State of Kerala would clearly be within the province of Kerala’s legislature.
It said: “By enacting the Amendment Act of 2006 and fixing the storage level of Mullaperiyar Dam at 136 ft., Kerala Legislature has not overruled the judgment of this court but removed the basis of the said judgment by curtailing the legal right to store water above 136ft which flows from the 1886 agreement. The law would not become invalid merely because there was a declaration that the dam was not safe if the water level was raised beyond 136 ft.”