With both Karnataka and Maharashtra opposing a special leave petition filed by Andhra Pradesh challenging the award of the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal-II (KWDT-II), the Supreme Court has decided to hear in July the maintainability of the SLP.
In the meantime, it will be open to Karnataka and Maharashtra to file their response to the SLP, a Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and A.K. Ganguly has said.
As per the Tribunal award submitted in December last, Andhra Pradesh will get 1,001 tmcft water; Karnataka 911 tmcft and Maharashtra 666 tmcft. When senior counsel K. Parasaran and Harish Salve, appearing for Andhra Pradesh, said the State was aggrieved over the allocation, senior counsel Fali Nariman, appearing for Karnataka, raised a preliminary objection saying the SLP was not maintainable. For, Andhra Pradesh had already filed a review petition under Section 5 (3) of the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act and the Tribunal was due to hear it in June. Until after the Tribunal rendered a decision on the review petition, the allocation could not be called a final award, which alone could be challenged, said Mr. Nariman. Senior counsel T.R. Andhyarujina, appearing for Maharashtra, said if the Supreme Court entertained this SLP, the dispute would never be settled. All points in the SLP had already been raised before the Tribunal in the review petition.
However, Mr. Parasaran pointed out that it was Karnataka which first challenged the Cauvery Tribunal award even as review petitions were pending before the Tribunal. The pendency of the review petitions before the Tribunal was not a bar to the Supreme Court entertaining the SLP. The appeals in the Cauvery case had been referred to a five-judge Constitution Bench, he pointed out.
In its SLP, Andhra Pradesh said the tribunal findings on the yield of water at various dependabilities were in violation of the principles of natural justice, and contrary to the established judicial procedure and settled principles in determining the yield of river and the length of series of years.
The entire proceedings before KWDT-II were vitiated as it acted on an impermissible method of considering 47 years for purposes of determining the yield at various dependabilities.
“The various demands projected by Andhra Pradesh include a demand for drinking water. Non-consideration of the demands vitiates the equitable allocation made by KWDT-II since it is important that drinking water should be physically accessible at a place where there is a dire requirement as these areas are either drought or fluoride affected and have no water resource to meet these demands except the surface flows of the Krishna.” The SLP said tribunal decision was arbitrary and illegal, and caused grave injustice to Andhra Pradesh.