Centre promised to notify CWDT decision by December-end

The Supreme Court on Friday pulled up the Centre for dilly-dallying on notifying the final decision of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) dated February 5, 2007, even though it informed the court on December 5, 2012 that it would notify the decision by the end of December.

When Additional Solicitor General Harin P. Raval sought four weeks time for the Centre to take a decision whether to notify the ‘final decision’ or not, a Bench of Justices D.K. Jain and Madan B. Lokur told him: “It is strange. We are to be told you will take a decision in four weeks.”

Mr. Justice Jain told Mr. Raval: “Our December 5, 2012 order was very clear and you told us that the government would notify the final decision before the end of December.”

“The Cauvery Monitoring Committee (CMC) in its order dated December 7 has also recorded that the final decision will be notified by the end of December. Then what is the difficulty? Is it your argument that you are not bound by the CMC order? You produce the file, we want to see it.”

Notification approved

Mr. Raval said the Water Resources Ministry had approved the notification and it was sent to the Legislative Department in the Ministry of Law and Justice for vetting. The Law Ministry took the view that since there was an earlier decision not to notify the ‘final decision,’ the matter required further consideration.

He also drew the court’s attention to a letter written by Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar on December 24 asking the Centre not to notify the final decision.

Shettar’s contention

In his letter, Mr. Shettar said: “…we have already expressed our reservation to notify the final award of the CWDT dated February 5, 2007 under Section 6 (1) of the Inter State Water Disputes Act as well as the Constitution of the Cauvery Monitoring Board. Therefore, I request that the government of India should not take a unilateral decision to notify the final order of the CWDT dated February 5, 2007 without consulting the States of the Cauvery Basin.”

When Mr. Justice Jain said the December 5 order was passed after all the States agreed that the final decision should be notified, Mr. Raval said: “When Karnataka says something in the court and something outside and sent objections, what can we do.”

Mr. Justice Jain told senior counsel Fali Nariman, appearing for Karnataka: “we don’t want this ‘hide-and-seek’ game from Karnataka of telling something in court and taking a different stand outside the court.”

Mr. Nariman, reiterated the stand that there was no objection in notifying the final decision without prejudice to the rights of the State.

‘Extra legal reasons’

Senior counsel C.S. Vaidyanathan, appearing for Tamil Nadu, said the delay for not notifying the final decision was due to “extra legal reasons” implying political reasons. However, Mr. Justice Jain told counsel “we are not concerned with that. We are concerned with implementation of our December 5 order.”

When Mr. Vaidyanathan insisted that the CMC should meet and decide on the shortfall, the Bench passed an order directing it to meet on or before January 11 and pass appropriate orders taking into consideration the standing crops in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

The Bench granted time till January 31 to the Centre to take a decision whether to notify or not the final decision of the Cauvery Tribunal without prejudice to the rights and contentions of the States concerned.

The Bench directed the matter to be listed for further hearing on February 4, when it would be heard by a new Bench, as by then Mr. Justice Jain would retire.