New Delhi, Sept 24: A united Karnataka legislative assembly on Friday resolved that Cauvery water in the four reservoirs of the state would be released only for drinking purposes.
It said that the water will be released for drinking purposes in the Cauvery basin and Bengaluru city.
The resolution was carefully worded and nowhere does it mention that Karnataka will not follow the Supreme Court's order or not release water to Tamil Nadu.
While there has been careful omission of the above mentioned, in reality it means at least for now that no water shall be released to TN and in effect the Supreme Court's directive will not be followed.
The Supreme Court in its last verdict had said that Karnataka should released 6,000 cusecs of water to Tami Nadu for the next seven days starting September 21.
The question now is whether the resolution itself is sufficient for the Supreme Court to hold the state of Karnataka in contempt?
Legal experts are of the view as of today it may not amount to contempt. Nowhere in the resolution does it say that the Supreme Court's order will not be followed. Neither does it say that no water shall be released to Tamil Nadu.
However the court can interpret the resolution to mean that the orders of the Supreme Court are not being followed.
Karnataka will tell the Supreme Court on Tuesday, 2 PM that it has passed a resolution. If the Supreme Court finds that the resolution amounts to willful disobedience of its order then it can hold Karnataka in contempt.
If held in contempt proceedings would be held against the Chief Secretary and the Irrigation Secretary in whose name the petitions in the Supreme Court is filed.
In their defence they could always tell the Court that they had advised the government against it. However this is a very unlikely scenario, legal experts point out.
A conviction in a contempt case could result in a jail term of 1 day to 6 months.
However the court would first need to declare the resolution as unconstitutional.
Karnataka has made its intention clear that no further release of water to TN is possible. However Karnataka also states that there would be no requirement of water for TN as the North Eastern monsoon is about to set in which would fulfill the needs of the state.
If Tamil Nadu does back down if it gets enough water from the monsoon, then Karnataka could expect a quietus on the issue.