Bengaluru, Sept 27: Are we about to witness a constitutional crisis on the Cauvery waters issue? The Supreme Court in a short while from now will hear a plea by Karnataka in which it is stated that Cauvery water cannot be released to Tamil Nadu until December.
While this is one part of the petition, what is more interesting would be the manner in which the court will deal with the resolution of the Karnataka legislative assembly.
The assembly had resolved to release Cauvery water only for drinking purposes in the Cauvery basin and Bengaluru. This effectively means that the order of the Supreme Court which directed Karnataka to release 6,000 cusecs of water to TN between September 21 and 27 is not being implemented.
Crisis in the making
Karnataka has been saying that there is not enough water to release. However, in the month of September it has been told thrice by the court as well the supervisory committee to release water to Tamil Nadu.
After the first order of the court, which directed the release of 15,000 tmcft of water for ten days, Karnataka sought modification of the order. However, the Supreme Court while reducing the quantum to 12,000 cusecs per day increased the number of days to 14.
This resulted in violent protests across Karnataka. The Cauvery basin and Bengaluru were the worst hit. Karnataka even told the court that there is a law and order problem. When the Supreme Court came down heavily on this submission, the legal team immediately withdrew the same which was in an affidavit.
Following this the supervisory committee met and directed Karnataka to release 3,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu. Karnataka went back to the SC against this order. However, the court ended up increasing the quantum and directed the release of 6,000 cusecs for seven days.
Will the resolution be declared unconstitutional?
After the last ad-interim order of the court, Karnataka decided that it would not release water. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah met with leaders of the JD(S) and the Congress. The BJP decided to stay away from the meet. At the all party meet it was unanimously decided that water cannot be released.
However, the meet also decided that they would hold a special legislative assembly session and also pass a resolution to this effect.
At the assembly and the council all parties spoke in one voice. Prior to the meet the advisory committee that met decided that they would only speak about their grievances and not against TN or the Supreme Court.
After deliberating for an entire day on Friday, both houses resolved to use Cauvery water only for drinking purposes. Nowhere in the resolution does it state that they are disobeying the Supreme Court or they will not release water to Tamil Nadu.
On Tuesday when the court takes up the matter, it would first want to know why the order was not implemented. Secondly, it would look into the resolution. Karnataka feels that it is covered against a contempt since it has a resolution of the legislative assembly.
If contempt is to be initiated, the court would first have to see if the resolution is unconstitutional or not. Karnataka would also point out that it is not saying that it will not release water. The petition states that it cannot release water now, but will do so in December.