NEW DELHI: Pulling up Centre for not drawing up the scheme to implement its judgement on the distribution of the Cauvery water among states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry, the Supreme Court on Monday directed it to place a draft scheme by next month.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said, “We are surprised that the Centre has not taken any steps. The Centre must place a draft scheme before us by May 3 so that a final stamp is put on it to end the controversy.”
The court also asked states to maintain peace until Centre frames the scheme.
Attorney General K K Venugopal appearing on behalf of Centre requested the bench to give time beyond 12 for framing of the scheme because of the forthcoming assembly elections in Karnataka next month, but the bench refused to extend the time.
“Directions of this court should have been complied by you. You are bound by it. We are surprised that it was not done. Why didn't you come to us earlier if you had any confusion,” CJI told Venugopal.
AG cited the clarification application filed by the government and said that there were divergent views about the purport of the scheme and thus, the court’s clarification was required to understand whether the scheme has to be strictly in terms of the order by the Cauvery Water Tribunal.
But the bench retorted that the tribunal's order was merged with the Supreme Court judgment.
“Why do you talk about the Tribunal's order now? We said a comprehensive scheme and you must frame it. It cannot happen every time. You submit a scheme to us and then we will put our stamp of approval,” said the bench.
During the hearing, senior advocate Shekhar Naphade appearing on behalf of Tamil Nadu government said law and order situation is getting worse in the state and are anguished at Karnataka for not releasing the water.
The bench said it acknowledge the concerns and will make sure that the court orders are strictly implemented.
On this, CJI assures that Centre will first submit draft report which will be shown to states and then only they will ask for its implementation.
Naphade also contended that the scheme must provide for an authority so that the apex court’s order is implemented.
The bench said that the present scheme was different from the earlier management board and that a fresh one has to be drafted by the Centre.
“We cannot monitor implementation of our order throughout the year. That is why we said a scheme must be framed. Tamil Nadu must get its water,” observed the court.
Today’s order came on a contempt petition filed by the Tamil Nadu government, which accused the Centre of doing little to follow the court’s directions to set up a Cauvery water management board and monitoring authority within six weeks of the February 16 judgement.
Centre had filed a petition in the court on March 31 seeking an extension of three months for implementing the order on water sharing.
The court, in its verdict, raised the 270 tmcft share of Cauvery water for Karnataka by 14.75 tmcft and reduced Tamil Nadu’s share, while compensating it by allowing extraction of 10 tmcft groundwater from the river basin, saying the issue of drinking water has to be placed on a higher pedestal.
The court had granted six weeks time to the Centre to formulate a scheme to ensure compliance of its judgement on the decades-old Cauvery dispute, which modified the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) award of 2007 and made it clear that it will not be extending time for this on any ground.