Cauvery water row: Don’t invite wrath of law, Supreme court warns Karnataka

Fali S Nariman withdraws as Karnataka counsel, citing its refusal to comply with the court's earlier orders.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Published:October 1, 2016 4:05 am
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Warning the Karnataka government against the “wrath of law”, the Supreme Court Friday directed the state to shed its defiance and release 6,000 cusec (cubic feet per second) of Cauvery river water to Tamil Nadu every day from October 1-6.

Despite the court directives on September 6, 12, 20 and 27, Karnataka has failed to release water to the lower riparian state.
“Unfortunately, the state of Karnataka is flouting the order and, in fact, creating a situation where the majesty of law is dented… Karnataka should not be bent upon maintaining an obstinate stand of defiance, for one knows not when the wrath of law shall fall on one,” said a bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Uday U Lalit.

The court took umbrage at the fact that Karnataka did not release water although it had been ordered it to do so irrespective of the resolution by the state legislature against it.

“We repeat at the cost of repetition that we are passing this order despite the resolution passed by the Joint Houses of State Legislature of the State of Karnataka… We are sure that Karnataka, being part of the federal structure of this country, will rise to the occasion and not show any kind of deviancy and follow the direction till the report on the ground reality is made available to this court,” it said.
The court further asked the Union government to set up by October 4 the Cauvery Management Board, which will make assessment of ground realities in the river basin areas and report back to the court by October 6.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi informed the bench about the impasse, and said no breakthrough could be achieved in the meeting chaired by the Water Resources Minister and attended by the Karnataka chief minister and the Tamil Nadu PWD minister.

Rohatgi agreed to the court’s suggestion to constitute the Cauvery Management Board, as directed by the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal, by October 4. The bench directed Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Kerala to nominate their members to the board by Saturday.
On his part, Tamil Nadu’s counsel, senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, said, “We are not saying yes or not to any order of the court. We have been treated shabbily. Any order passed by the court is not going to be obeyed by Karnataka.”

Karnataka’s counsel, senior lawyer Fali S Nariman, also apprised the bench of his communication with Chief Minister S Siddaramaiah wherein the jurist has impressed upon the state to honour the court order and release the water. In response to Siddaramaiah’s inability to do so, Nariman said he would not be able to make any submission on behalf of the state in the court.

At this, the bench said, “We must appreciate the stand taken by Nariman. This behoves the officer (all lawyers are treated as such) of the court in light of the tradition of the bar.” The court will hear the case next on October 6.