Centre’s stand on constitution of CMB catches State off guard.

Johnson Cherian.
The Central Government’s opposition to complying with the Supreme Court’s direction to constitute the Cauvery Monitoring Board (CMB) has come as a shock to Tamil Nadu. “It is a bolt from the blue,” says a senior State Government official.
Incidentally, only on Friday last, the Centre had told the Supreme Court that the CMB could be constituted “on or before” October 4. The text of the Supreme Court’s order on September 30, as available on the website of the Court, mentioned that after the submission by the Central government, the Court went on to ask the Cauvery basin States to nominate their representatives for the proposed CMB.
But, on Monday, the Centre questioned the Court’s jurisdiction over the matter. It based its argument on Article 262 of the Constitution (disputes relating to waters) and Section 11 of the Inter-State Water Disputes Act (exclusion of jurisdiction of the Supreme Court or any other court over a matter referred to a Tribunal).
‘SC has the authority’
N.R. Madhava Menon, veteran legal expert, says it is for the Supreme Court and not Parliament to clarify whether it has jurisdiction on such a matter. Pointing out that the Court still has residuary jurisdiction, he says there is a school of thought which raises the question whether the Court can be kept out of the picture at all over any matter involving two States or between the Centre and a State or States.
“Do they want the Cauvery delta in Tamil Nadu to be erased from the map of the State,” was how S. Ranganathan, veteran leader of farmers and the man who had gone to the Supreme Court in 1983 for the establishment of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal, reacted to the Centre’s stand.
K.T. Raghavan, secretary of the Tamil Nadu unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, says that before commenting on the issue he would prefer to wait for Tuesday when the matter again comes up before the Court. Nonetheless, he contended that just because the Centre has raised certain “technical issues,” it did not mean that it was against Tamil Nadu’s interests.

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