Today's Paper

SC pulls up Centre for not framing Cauvery scheme

The Supreme Court on Tuesday rapped the Centre for showing “sheer contempt of court” by not framing the Cauvery draft scheme, but adjourned the case to May 14, well after the crucial polling day for the Karnataka Assembly election.

Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal asked a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra for 10 days’ time to add the “finishing touch” to its draft scheme and get the nod of the Union Cabinet.

Mr. Venugopal had in a previous hearing said the Prime Minister and all the Ministers were busy campaigning in Karnataka, which is going to the polls on May 12. This is despite the fact that the Supreme Court had, on April 9, categorically directed the Centre to frame the draft scheme by May 3 to prove its bona fide resolve to end the 200-year-old dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Directive to official

The next court hearing comes on the eve of the counting day on May 15. The Bench ordered the Union Water Resources Secretary to be present with the draft scheme on May 14.

Delay in implementation

The court did not go into pleas and counter-pleas by Tamil Nadu and Karnataka over the release of Cauvery water. The Chief Justice said this may only retard the implementation of the judgment and the nitty-gritty of water-sharing should be looked into by the authority which would be put in place by the Centre as per the scheme.

The court refrained from intervening in this issue for the time being.

In the last hearing, the court had queried whether Karnataka had complied with the releases during the months from February to April, 2018. Tamil Nadu on Monday said Karnataka could “easily spare” four tmcft water for the month of May.

Karnataka had responded by filing its counter within hours, saying it had already released 116.697 tmcft to Tamil Nadu at the inter-State Bilingundlu border despite this being a distress year for the third consecutive year. It said Tamil Nadu had already received an excess of 16.66 tmcft.

The Centre has taken the position that the four riparian States of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry were not on the same page as regards the formation of the Cauvery Management Board. It had referred to a letter written by Karnataka Chief Minister against the constitution of the Board.

Centre’s duty: T.N.

Arguing for Tamil Nadu, senior advocate Shekhar Naphade said the Centre was ultimately “duty bound” to implement the direction of the Supreme Court on February 16, 2018 to frame the scheme to provide for the Cauvery Management Board and the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee.

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