New Delhi, Dec 9: The Supreme Court today ruled that the appeals filed by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu challenging the award of the Cauvery Waters Tribunal are maintainable. While holding that the appeals can be heard, the court set the next date of hearing to December 15. This order comes as a major relief for Karnataka as it had always contended that the award of the Tribunal was unfair. Had the court today ordered that the appeal filed by the state was not maintainable, then the award of the Tribunal would have become final.
Both states had challenged the order of the Cauvery Waters Tribunal dated February 5 2007. The Centre had opposed the appeals stating it is not maintainable. The tribunal in its final award had determined the usable quantum of water of the Cauvery at 740 tmcft. Karnataka is entitled to 270 tmcft, Tamil Nadu to 419 tmcft, Kerala 30 tmcft, Puducherry 7 tmcft, and 14 tmcft is meant for environmental purposes, the tribunal had said.
The Union government contended that the decision of an inter state water tribunal is considered as a decree passed by the Supreme Court. The tribunal had delivered its final award on February 5, 2007. The Centre contends that once the tribunal's order is published it partakes the shape of a Supreme Court order.
Under Article 262 (1) and (2) of the Constitution the power of the Supreme Court is eclipsed after the Tribunal formed under the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act,1956 has adjudicated over the issue. Such decisions cannot be challenged, the Centre also contended. Karnataka however contended that it had challenged the award before the same was published on February 19 2013.
The contention made by Karnataka was supported by Puducherry which has also challenged the award of the tribunal. Tamil Nadu said that Section 6(2) of the Inter State Waters Dispute Act of 1956 cannot oust the Supreme Court's constitutional appellate powers under Article 136 of the Indian Constitution.