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Supreme Court gives last chance to Karnataka to release Cauvery water

The Supreme Court on Friday gave Karnataka a last chance to release 6000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu between October 1, 2016 and October 6, 2016 before the “wrath of law falls on the State”.

The apex court simultaneous asked the Centre to set up the Cauvery Water Management Board by October 4 so that the Board can visit the Cauvery sites to check the ground realities. The apex court called for a report on October 6, the next date of hearing.

The court slammed Karnataka for “flouting its orders and creating a situation by which the majesty of law is dented”.

Invoking its limitless powers under Article 144 of the Indian Constitution to enforce its orders, a Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and U.U. Lalit warned Karnataka in its order that it was “bound to obey the orders of the Supreme Court”.

“On a plain perusal of Article 144, it is clear as crystal that all authorities in the territory of India are bound to obey the orders of the Supreme Court and render assistance and aid for the implementation of the orders of this court,” the Supreme Court noted in the order.

The hearing comes a day after talks hosted by the Union Water Ministry between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to find a common ground and resolve the Cauvery water dispute failed.

The hearing saw Karnataka counsel and senior advocate Fali Nariman refusing to espouse the cause of his own client. Mr. Nariman said he was also an officer of the court and did not want to press further Karnataka’s case in defiance of the repeated orders of the Supreme Court to release water.

He read out a letter to him by Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramiah on September 29, saying that Karnataka stands by its September 23 resolution to not share Cauvery water as it was the “will of its people”.

Mr. Nariman also read out his reply to Mr. Siddaramiah, saying that in that case he would confine to reading out the letter of the Chief Minister and not argue the matter further in court.

Tamil Nadu counsel and senior advocate Shekhar Naphade bluntly told the court that there was “no point arguing the case before this court”.

“Last time also we had said there was no point to any meeting. We have been treated so shabbily. We don’t want to place anything more before this court,” Mr. Naphade expressed the State's anguish at Karnataka's repeated defiance of the apex court orders.

Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi, who had taken the initiative for talks between the two States, said the Centre also had nothing to say on the impasse.

It was then the Bench pressed forward it’s suggestion to form the CWMB quickly.

The Bench ordered the Centre to send communications to the three States concerned — Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka — and the Union Territory of Puducherry to send in their nominations for their representatives.

The court said the Board should be constituted by Tuesday next and then forthwith travel to the Cauvery sites to see for themselves the situation on the ground.

Meanwhile, it ordered Karnataka to release 6000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu from October 1 to October 6.

“We are granting this opportunity as the last chance and we repeat we are passing this order despite the resolution by the joint House of the State Legislature of Karnataka,” the Bench emphasised in its order.

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