Even as Karnataka made it clear that it would be “physically impossible” for it to release water any more to Tamil Nadu, the Supreme Court told the State on Monday that “all these agitations [in Karnataka against water release] don’t serve any purpose. Sometimes, they may spoil a good case”.
After hearing senior counsel Fali Nariman, appearing for Karnataka, a Bench of Justices D.K. Jain and Madan B. Lokur asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is the chairperson of the Cauvery River Authority (CRA), to decide on Karnataka’s application for a review of the CRA’s September 19 order that the State release 9,000 cusecs to Tamil Nadu daily from September 20 to October 15.
Meanwhile, the Bench put off until October 12 the hearing of Karnataka’s petition for a stay/modification of the Supreme Court’s September 28 order, directing that the State release 9,000 cusecs as per the CRA order.
This followed Mr. Nariman’s submission that the State was expecting an order from the Prime Minister on October 9 on its application for a review of the CRA order.
He, however, said the Supreme Court’s September 28 order would come in the way of the Prime Minister taking a decision on “our application.”
Senior counsel C.S. Vaidyanathan, appearing for Tamil Nadu, said the CRA had no power to review its order and requested the Bench not to pass any order. However, the Bench said: “Mr. Fali Nariman … has sought that the hearing on the Karnataka’s application … be deferred till October 12 as the State is expecting some order by the chairperson of the CRA on the review petition filed by it. He, however, apprehends that our order dated September 28 may come in the way of the chairperson of the CRA in taking a decision … Accordingly, while deferring the hearing till October 12, we clarify that the September 28 order shall not in any way be an impediment to the chairperson in taking a decision …”
Mr. Vaidyanathan said Monday’s order should not be construed as a handle to say the Prime Minister had the power to review the CRA’s order. Justice Jain told him: “In a way, we have incorporated the CRA’s order [into] … our order. When a review petition is before the CRA, we can’t tell the PM you don’t have the power. What all we say is let the PM take a decision either way.”
Earlier, Mr. Nariman said that from September 12 to 19, Karnataka released 95,012 cusecs to Tamil Nadu as against 80,000 cusecs ordered to be released; from September 20 to October 7, it released 255,072 cusecs, and the cumulative excess amounted to 13,072 cusecs. “This morning [Monday morning], over 12,000 cusecs” had been released, and physically it would not be possible for us to release anything more. The surplus releases could be adjusted.”
Before parting, Justice Jain told Mr. Nariman: “All these agitations don’t serve any purpose. Sometimes, they may spoil a good case.” The Bench posted the applications of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for further hearing on October 12.
In its application, Karnataka said: “Consequent to the release of water from the reservoirs in Karnataka, farmers in the districts of Mysore, Mandya, Hassan have taken to picketing, and even threatened to seize, the dam. Strong perceptions of the farmers are that any release from the reservoir would affect their standing crops which are their only livelihood.”