Rejecting the Centre’s stand that the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction to hear the Cauvery river dispute, the Supreme Court on Friday upheld its constitutional power to hear the appeals filed by Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala against the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal final award in 2007.
A three-judge Bench Justice Dipak Misra said the court would resume hearing the case on December 15 at 3 p.m.
Reading the operative part of the verdict, Justice Misra said the interim order to Karnataka to release 2000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu would continue till further orders.
The Centre had argued that the parliamentary law of Inter-State Water Disputes Act of 1956 coupled with Article 262 (2) of the Indian Constitution excluded the Supreme Court from hearing or deciding any appeals against the Cauvery Tribunal's decision. It had claimed the tribunal award was final.
“A person aggrieved can always have his remedy invoking the jurisdiction under Article 136 (appeal to the Supreme Court) of the Constitution of India. We have no scintilla of doubt in our mind that the founding fathers did not want the award or the final order passed by the tribunal to remain immune from challenge,” said an 88-page judgment authored by Justice Misra for the Bench.
“The jurisdiction exercised by this court under Article 136 is an extraordinary jurisdiction which empowers this court to grant leave to appeal from any judgment, decree or determination in any cause or matter passed or made by any court or tribunal and the scope of this Article has been settled in numerous decisions,” the Supreme Court observed.
However, the Bench said it was settled law that the Supreme Court could not take cognisance of an original inter-State water dispute, and this alone was the original intent of the Constitution under Article 262. Again, the Bench observes, that once a water dispute, as defined under Article 262(1) read with provisions of the 1956 Act, is adjudicated by the tribunal, it loses the nature of ‘original dispute’.
Quoting Section 6 (2) of the 1956 Act, the Centre had said it was left to the government to frame a scheme for implementation of the tribunal award, and the scheme, once prepared, would be placed before both Houses of the Parliament for approval.
It argued that the tribunal takes on the mantle of the Supreme Court, and its award should be treated as the latter’s judgment.
“The interim order to Karnataka to release 2000 cusecs of Cauvery water to TN to continue”