Taking Karnataka to task for repeated "defiance" by flouting its orders for release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu, Supreme Court today asked it to discharge 6,000 cusecs water from tomorrow till October 6, warning no one would know when the "wrath of the law" would fall on it.
The apex court gave the last opportunity to the Siddaramiah government to release 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu from October 1-6, despite a unanimous resolution passed by both house of Assembly.
"Karnataka despite being a state is flouting the order and creating a situation when the majesty of law is dented. We would have proceeded to take steps for strict compliance of the order but we have directed Cauvery Water Management Board to first study the ground realities and submit a report," a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and U U Lalit said.
"Karnataka shall not be bent upon to take an obstinate and stand of defiance as one does not know when wrath of the law will fall upon them," the bench said while directing the Centre to constitute the Cauvery Water Management Board by October 4.
It ordered all the stakeholders - Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Pudduchery - to give names by 4 pm tomorrow of their representatives to be included in the board which would be chaired by the Union Water Resources Minister.
"We assume that Karnataka being a part of the federal structure of the country shall live upto the occasion and not show any deviancy till report of ground reality is submitted by the Cauvery Water Management Board," the court said.
The bench reminded Karnataka that it is bound by Article 144 of the Constitution and "aid in compliance" of the order of the Supreme Court.
"On plain reading of Article 144, it is clear as crystal that all authorities are bound to work in aid of Supreme Court and they are bound to obey the orders of Supreme Court but unfortunatelyKarnataka being a state is flouting the orders of the court," the bench said.
At the outset, senior advocate F S Nariman, representing Karnataka, referred to the communications between him and the Chief Minister Siddaramiah.
Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Tamil Nadu, expressed anguish on behalf of the state, saying Karnataka has already made up its mind that it is not going to comply with the apexcourt directions.
Naphade said "they (Karnataka) have consciously decided
to defy the orders of Supreme Court. We have been treated shabbily in this matter. We don't want to say anything and the court may pass any order it wants".
On other hand, Nariman said Karnataka Chief Minister has called an all-party meeting after the Supreme Court passed its order on September 27. The meeting reiterated that the "will of the people of the state should be respected" and no water can be released, he said.
Referring to the contents of his letter to the Chief Minister, Nariman told the bench that he has unequivocally said he would not argue for Karnataka till the orders of Supreme Court are complied with.
He said today he will not make any submission on behalf of Karnataka, a move which was hailed by the bench which said Nariman's stand of "unhesitatingly beholds the right tradition of the bar".
During the hearing, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi appearing for Centre, gave details of the meeting between Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaia and Tamil Nadu PWD Minister Edappadi K Palaniswamy.
He said no consensus was arrived as Tamil Nadu stuck to their stand that they needed water, while Karnataka said they were helpless in this matter.
The bench asked the AG how far the Centre has proceeded in setting up the Cauvery Water Management Board as directed by the court.
AG said it could be constituted in 4-5 days and the apex court orders will be complied.
"The management of Cauvery water has to be done by the Board. We are doing some arithmetic calculation on how much water to be released and when to be released with the regard to the award of tribunal," the bench said.
The apex court directed that once the Cauvery Water Management Board is constituted by the Centre, a team shall visit the sites to take a prima facie view of the ground reality and submit a report.
It directed that communication to the three states and the Union Territory should be sent by today so that they send the names of their representatives by tomorrow.
On September 27, the apex court had asked Karnataka to release 6,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu till today despite its assembly resolution, but had called for a political solution to the impasse by convening of a meeting of Chief Ministers of the two states and the Centre.