Notification likely to be issued shortly; the post has been vacant since April 2012

The Centre will soon appoint Justice B.S. Chauhan, a Judge of the Supreme Court, as Chairman of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal to take up pending applications.

The tribunal has been without Chairman since April 2012, when Justice N.P. Singh resigned on health grounds. Justice Singh was appointed a few days before his superannuation as a Supreme Court judge in December 1996.Final award

The tribunal gave its final award on February 5, 2007. Thereafter, the Tamil Nadu government filed applications for certain clarification on the award and sought some directions. Petitions filed by the party States and the Centre under Section 5(3) of the Inter State River Water Disputes Act, seeking an explanation or guidance, have been pending before the tribunal since 2007.

Since only a sitting Supreme Court judge on the verge of retirement can be appointed as Chairman, the Centre has been requesting the Chief Justice of India to suggest a suitable judge; but the efforts of the earlier Chief Justices at finding a successor to Justice Singh did not fructify.

However, the present Chief Justice, P. Sathasivam, recommended the name of Justice Chauhan, who is due to retire on July 1 this year. He has accepted the offer.

The Ministry of Water Resources has completed the process of appointment and sent the file to the Union Law Ministry for issuing a notification, which highly placed sources say is expected to be issued shortly.

The tribunal was constituted on June 2, 1990. By an interim award issued on June 25, 1991, it directed Karnataka to release 205 tmcft each year to Tamil Nadu. Of this quantum, Tamil Nadu was to release 6 tmcft to Puducherry. The Cauvery River Authority was constituted in 1998 to ensure proper implementation of the interim award.

After holding sittings for more than 500 days, over 17 years, the tribunal gave its final award in February 2007. For Tamil Nadu, the tribunal recommended 419 tmcft (against the demand for 562 tmcft); Karnataka 270 tmcft (465 tmcft); Kerala 30 tmcft; and Puducherry 7 tmcft. The actual release of water by Karnataka to Tamil Nadu will be 192 tmcft a year. From it, Tamil Nadu will release 7 tmcft to Puducherry.

Review petitions

Since applications were filed for a review of the final award, the tribunal continued to function. As Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala filed appeals against the award in the Supreme Court, the tribunal was unable to take up the review applications. In February 2013, the Centre notified the final award.