Cauvery water row: Defiant Karnataka heads for constitutional crisis

BENGALURU (TIP): A constitutional crisis is brewing with Karnataka preparing to defy the latest Supreme Court order directing it to release 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery water per day to Tamil Nadu till September 27.

The special legislature session on Friday is expected to adopt a resolution that the SC order cannot be implemented as it’s contrary to public interest. By projecting it as a legislature-judiciary confrontation, Siddaramaiah hopes to escape the charge of contempt of court.

Many in Karnataka are astonished at the Centre’s silence. “The Centre cannot be a bystander just because the issue is before SC. PM Narendra Modi should step in to prevent a constitutional crisis. It’s his duty to protect the federal structure,” says former advocate-general Ravi Varma Kumar.

Former advocate general B V Acharya says: “I don’t know what’s going to happen at the session, but the state is certainly heading for a constitutional crisis. I just hope the Centre acts.”

The Karnataka government cannot be held responsible for holding the session, Ravi Varma Kumar adds, since it had no other option. “I hope the legislature demonstrates what really prompted them to hold the session. Whatever decision is taken, it cannot be seen as an act of defiance but as the helplessness of a state ravaged by an unimplementable court order.”

A senior lawyer, who doesn’t want to be named, observes that the resolution passed at the session holds the key. “If Karnataka defies the SC order, there are serious risks for several such river-sharing agreements. Tensions between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu will grow since both states are feeling the pressure. The Centre, therefore, cannot allow the current developments to set an unhealthy precedent.”

Another legal expert says:”If the legislature decides to defy the SC order and passes a resolution, they should ensure it’s carefully phrased. Outright defiance of SC may boomerang and set an extremely dangerous precedent. Tamil Nadu will be hoping Karnataka makes a mistake so the state can be hauled up again.” Karnataka law and parliamentary affairs minister T B Jayachandra refused to comment on the implications of deferring the release of water. “We will discuss such aspects at the session and arrive at a consensus. I hope that legislators will stand united.”


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