SC slams Centre, calls it 'in contempt' for sitting on Cauvery scheme
08 May 2018
The Supreme Court today reprimanded the Union government, saying it was in "sheer contempt" of the February judgment on Cauvery water sharing for not framing the scheme required for implementation of water distribution between Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Union Territory of Puducherry.
The court directed the union water resources secretary to appear before it on 14 May with a draft of the Cauvery management scheme for implementation of its verdict on water sharing between the four states.
"We do not want to come back to square one. Once judgement has been delivered, it has to be implemented," a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud told the Centre.
The SC also ordered the Union water resources secretary to remain personally present in court on 14 May at 10.30 am with the draft scheme on the Cauvery water sharing mechanism and supervising authority.
During the hearing, counsel for Tamil Nadu Shekhar Naphade took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the delay in framing the draft scheme, saying, "someone boasts that he works 24x7 for the citizens".
On February 16, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court pronounced the judgement on the Cauvery water dispute between Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala and Puducherry.
The bench directed Karnataka to release 177.25 TMC of water, instead of the 192 TMC to Tamil Nadu. It also directed the Centre to constitute a Cauvery Management Board (CMB) in six weeks.
However, the Centre failed to form the CMB within given time frame. Following this, on 9 April, the top court asked the Centre to frame a draft scheme by 3 May, which the latter failed to do.
Attorney General K K Venugopal once again claimed the draft scheme was ready but was not approved by the cabinet since the ministers were busy due to elections in Karnataka. He also urged the court to hear the matter after Karnataka elections are over.
Referring to the violence and deaths that followed the Supreme Court order in the SC/ST case, Venugopal said the presentation of a scheme before the elections can create a law and order problem in Karnataka just before the polls.
Nine persons has died after violent protests broke out in various parts of the country against the SC/ST verdict that barred immediate arrest of those facing allegations under the law meant to protect members of the community.
The CJI said court was not willing to let the matter linger and said that the Centre cannot abdicate its duty to frame the scheme.
“By now the authority should have framed the scheme. It can’t go on like this. What you have done is sheer contempt,” the bench said.
“As per the judgment it’s the duty of the authority to implement the decree. The executive authority has to deal with it. How much water problem is being faced by which state, only the authority can decide it. You are under obligation to implement the judgment,” the CJI told the Centre.
Venugopal assured the court that once the scheme is ready, water shall be released as per the SC judgment.