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. 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.