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Another bend in Cauvery river dispute

Now Centre’s application for modification is slated for hearing on October 4 during which the review petition of Karnataka may also be taken up if it is decided to be heard in the open court. Normally review petitions are decided in the judges’ chambers
Supreme Court

After Karnataka was asked by the Supreme Court to explain its repeated defiance of orders, it released some water from the River Cauvery to neighbouring Tamil Nadu late on Monday night. This meant a yet another turn to the vexed Cauvery river water share issue between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, the Centre which had earlier accepted that a Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal would be formed told the Supreme Court that the court had no power to order for the constitution of such h comprising Justices Dipak Misra and Uday Umesh Lalit reminded the attorney general Mukul Rohtagi that it was his own commitment before the court during the earlier hearing, the AG said it was his “mistake” making such commitment and wanted modification of the court’s order of September 30 for the constitution of such tribunal.

In a sudden ‘U’ turn, Rohatgi argued that it was only a suggestion and not binding on the government. The Centre’s application for modification of the order has come even as Karnataka’s review petition seeking to modify the court order for the release of the river water to neighbouring Tamil Nadu is pending. Now Centre’s application for modification is slated for hearing on October 4 during which the review petition of Karnataka may also be taken up if it is decided to be heard in the open court. Normally review petitions are decided in the judges’ chambers.

As per the earlier order, the tribunal should have been constituted by today (October 3) as the Centre approached the court for modification of this order making it clear that the Centre wanted to just wash off its hands in the matter leaving it to the court and the contending states. Kerala and Puducherry also are parties in the case but the fierce battle is between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
When senior counsel for Tamil Nady Shekhar Naphade told the court that Karnataka has not released a drop of water, the judges asked the counsel for Karnataka whether there was at least “partial compliance” of its order. “We can understand your difficulty but there can be at least part compliance of our order”, the judges told Karnataka.

The counsel for Tamil Nadu also opposed the Centre’s plea to modify its order for constituting a Cauvery river water board. He said that there was much to it (the modification application) and much more that what met the eyes.
In its review petition, Karnataka has stated that gross miscarriage of justice has been done to the state as it has to first serve its citizens with drinking water and reserve some for lean days.

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