Willing to hear Telangana, AP 2014 plea against Krishna Water Tribunal Award, says Supreme Court

The bench indicated its willingness to deal with the issue in totality, instead of holding hearings on pleas seeking interim directions.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jan 12, 2023 | 9:42 PMUpdatedJan 12, 2023 | 9:42 PM

The hearing is in its third day and is still inconclusive. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Supreme Court on Thursday, 12 January, indicated that it may hear Andhra Pradesh and Telangana’s 2014 plea challenging the Krishna Water Dispute Tribunal Award, relating to the allocation of water between four states — Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh.

Indicating its willingness to deal with the issue in totality, instead of holding piecemeal hearings on the pleas seeking interim directions, a bench of Justices Surya Kant and V Ramasubramanian said, “If the matter is assigned to us, we will decide not only the interim applications but also the appeal against the award.”

The lawyers appearing for the four states sought the bench’s nod to mention the matter before Chief Justice DY Chandrachud. Justice Kant stated that they could mention it before the CJI and added that they (the bench) would take it up with him too.

The top court said this while hearing arguments by Telangana’s counsel.

The matter at hand

Telangana is opposing applications by both Karnataka and Maharashtra who are seeking modification of a 16 September, 2011, Supreme Court order restraining the Centre from notifying/publishing the Krishna Water Tribunal Award of 2010.

Subsequent to this, a final award came in 2013, but owing to the 2011 restraining order, this too was not published.

As the hearing for the day was nearing its end, the bench asked senior advocate CS Vaidyanathan — appearing for Telangana — whether the dispute is about “dependability” on rainfall or allocation of water.

Vaidyanathan said that it was both and, primarily, the issue was dependability as allocation of water is based on it.

Vaidyanathan reiterated that he was in favour of hearing the main matter, which both Maharashtra and Karnataka are shying away from.

Throwing down the gauntlet, he said that he was ready to immediately commence his argument on this matter. His plea was supported by senior advocate Jaideep Gupta, appearing for Andhra Pradesh.

Also Read: Karnataka seeks SC nod to utilise 75 TMC of Krishna river water 

Telangana vs Karnataka 

Resuming his arguments that remained inconclusive on Wednesday, Vaidyanathan took the court through the record of rainfall over a century to show that Telangana has been a water-deficient state where farmers don’t get returns given the cost of their agriculture inputs.

The counsel for Karnataka disputed Vaidyanathan’s claim about Telangana being rain deficient. He stated that, every year, Telangana gets the water it requires.

Vaidyanathan retorted that Karnataka never releases water to Telangana from the Almatti Dam on the Krishna river without satisfying its requirements and unless the dam is brimming with water.

Vaidyanathan then discussed Karnataka’s statements regarding the infrastructure it created under the Upper Krishna Project Phase III.

He said that all this was done in the teeth of the apex court order and without the approval of the Central Water Commission, the central government and the then-Planning Commission.

He said that Karnataka obtained the environment clearance for all this in 2019.

The hearing thus far

The inconclusive hearing on Karnataka and Maharashtra’s application seeking the modification of the September 2011 restraining order lasted for three days.

The arguments commenced on Tuesday, 10 January, by senior advocate Shyan Divan for Karnataka that had spilled over to the second day.

He was followed by senior advocate Shekhar Naphade representing Maharashtra, who started and concluded his arguments on the same day.

Vaidyanathan, who started his arguments on Wednesday, continued today. The hearing still remains inconclusive.

No date has been given yet for the next hearing on the matter as Justice Kant is holding interviews for the appointment of the judicial members of the National Company Law Tribunal.

Also Read: SC gives Centre 3 months to set up Pennaiyar dispute tribunal