States’ needs could basis of sharing Cauvery water, Karnataka tells SC

New Delhi: Karnataka on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that the 1924 agreement between the then British province of Madras and the princely State of Mysore could not be the basis of sharing Cauvery river water between the present day Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and present day needs must taken into account.

The Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal award in 2007 decided on the water sharing on the basis of 1890 and 1924 agreement without determining equitable share and its apportionment, Karnataka told the bench of Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Amitava Roy and Justice A.M.Khanwilkar.

Describing the 1924 agreement “political” in essence, senior counsel Fali Nariman appearing for Karnataka told the bench that the equitable apportionment of water is based on the needs of the states and not the review of 1890 and 1924 agreements.

His argument came as the top court resumed the hearing on a batch of petitions by Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala challenging the allocation of water by the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal award in 2007.

“The tribunal has apportioned the water of Inter-State River Cauvery not on the basis of settled principles of equitable apportionment … but on the basis of 1924 agreement”, Nariman told the court.

Telling the court that 1924 agreement was “vitiated by the doctrine of unconscionability and was invalid and void”, he said “the Agreement of 1924 was entered into between the British province of Madras on one hand and the Princely State of Mysore on the other”.

The Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal award had come on February 5, 2007 and it was gazetted om February 19, 2013.

Besides deciding on the sharing of water, the tribunal had recommended setting up of Cauvery Management Board and the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee.

The top court by its January 4 order had directed that hearing would commence on February 7 and continue on day to day basis till it concludes.

The hearing on the cross petitions first took place on February 7 when Nariman had given an over-view of the problem with its history to the bench.

However, on February 7, the hearing was directed to resume from July 11.

The hearing will continue on Wednesday.