Cauvery row: Legislature can't overrule SC directive, Karnataka has to bend

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Will the decision by the Karnataka Legislative Assembly on the Cauvery Waters issue sustain before the Supreme Court? Karnataka had resolved to release Cauvery water only for drinking water purposes.

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This technically meant that it would not abide by the directive of the Supreme Court which told Karnataka to release water to Tamil Nadu for irrigation purpose.

There was a similar scenario before the Supreme Court which dealt with the Kerala government which had promulgated a law defying the Supreme Court's order in the Mullaperiyar dam case. It was held in this case, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court had observed that the legislature cannot by a bare declaration directly overrule, reverse or override a judicial decision.

The judgment of the court delivered in May 2014 had quashed the law prmoulagated by the state. In this case the Supreme Court had originally allowed the water level in the dam to be increased from 136 to 142 feet. However the Kerala legislature promulgated a law defying the order of the Supreme Court.

There have also been questions raised on whether the Supreme Court can interfere in matter pertaining to inter-state water disputes. In order to prevent a situation, where a state will pass a resolution against another, the Constitution states that the Supreme Court can prevent such a situation to avoid any Constitutional crisis.

Further one would also need to take a look at Article 144 in this context when a state refuses to abide by the order of the Supreme Court. Article 144 in The Constitution Of India 1949 states: Civil and judicial authorities to act in aid of the Supreme Court. All authorities, civil and judicial, in the territory of India shall act in aid of the Supreme Court. This would mean that the Supreme Court can call in the army if its orders are not being implemented.

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