THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With CJI R M Lodha set to retire on September 27, an anxious Kerala is keenly waiting for the Constitution Bench under Justice Lodha to take a final call on Kerala’s review petition on the apex court’s Mullaperiyar verdict. Though the case has not been listed till now, Kerala is hopeful that the court would take a final decision on the review petition before Justice Lodha retires.
In its review petition filed on June 30, Kerala had sought review of the May 7 verdict that had declared the state’s Dam Safety Act unconstitutional and allowed Tamil Nadu to raise the water level in the Mullaperiyar dam. Kerala has been attempting for an open court hearing of the review petition instead of judges passing orders in their chamber. “If they find there’s any merit in the review petition, the judges would be ready for an open court hearing of the same. The review plea has not been listed till now. However, it’s expected that the petition would be disposed of before the current CJI retires this month, as otherwise it would be difficult for a new Bench to hear the plea again. During the hearing of the original petition, some arguments were repeated due to change of judges. In all probability, the review petition would be disposed before Justice Lodha retires this September,’’ sources said. “Kerala is keenly watching the situation. We have asked the officials to bring it to the court’s notice that the review petition has been pending for some time,’’ said Water Resources Minister P J Joseph.
In its review petition, Kerala had pointed out that section 177 of the Government of India Act 1935, after the enactment of which the federation came to existence, would not apply to the issue. “...section 177 did not apply because neither the Federation of India was established as contemplated under section 5 nor the Indian State (Princely State) of Travancore executed any accession under the provisions of section 6 of the Act of 1935,’’ the petition said. “The error is due to erroneous assumption of the fact that the Federation of India was established and consequently, contracts of secretary of State devolved on Madras province under section 177,’’ the petition pointed out.
It was a five-member Constitution Bench, comprising Justice R M Lodha, Justice H L Dattu, Justice Chandramauli K R Prasad, Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice M Y Iqbal - which heard the case for around a month. The hearing began on July 23, 2013 and concluded by August 21, 2013. In its May 7 verdict, the apex court quashed the amendments to the Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation Act 2006 and allowed Tamil Nadu to raise the water level from 136 ft to 142 ft.