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The State Of Karnataka By Its Chief … vs State Of Tamil Nadu By Its Chief … on 16 February, 2018

REPORTABLE

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2453 OF 2007

The State of Karnataka by its Chief Secretary … Appellant(s)

Versus

State of Tamil Nadu by its Chief Secretary Ors. … Respondent(s)

WITH

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2454 of 2007

State of Kerala through the Chief Secretary …Appellant(s)
to Government
Versus

State of Tamil Nadu through the Chief Secretary …Respondent(s)
to Government and others

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2456 OF 2007

State of Tamil Nadu through the Secretary …Appellant(s)
Public Works Department

Versus

State of Karnataka by its Chief Secretary …Respondent(s)
Government of Karnataka Ors.
Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by
CHETAN KUMAR
Date: 2018.02.16
13:09:50 IST
Reason:
2

JUDGMENT

Dipak Misra, CJI

INDEX

S. No. Heading Page No.

A. The proceedings in this Court in the present 6
Appeals
B. Maintainability of the Appeals by Special 18
Leave
C. Stand of all parties pertaining to remand of 21
the matter to the Tribunal after deliberation
of the legal issues
D. Reference of the dispute to the Tribunal 24
E. The initial proceedings before the Tribunal 29
F. The issue of Ordinance by the State of 34
Karnataka and the Presidential Reference
G. The genesis of the controversy 50

H. Doctrine of Paramountcy and its extinction 74
on coming into force of the Indian
Independence Act, 1947
I. Infraction of Article 363 and non- 108
maintainability of the dispute on the basis of
agreements
J. Unconscionability of the 1892 and 1924 133
agreements
K. Status of the agreements after coming into 147
force of the States Reorganization Act, 1956
3

L. Issue relating to expiry of the agreements 164

M. Did the complaint not require any 179
adjudication?

N. The approach adopted by the Tribunal post 183
1974 and correctness of the same
O. The quintessence of pleadings before the 197
Tribunal
P. The findings of the Tribunal on various 215
issues
P.1 Prescriptive rights and other claims 215

P.2 Breach of agreements of 1892 and 1924 217
and consequences thereof
P.3 Peripheral issues qua claims of Kerala 219
and Union Territory of Pondicherry
(presently named as ―Puducherry‖)
P.4 Gross water available for apportionment 222

P.4(i) Surface flow of water 222
P.4(ii) Identification of dependable yield 228

P.4(iii) Additional source of water 231

P.5 The principles of apportionment 241

P.6 Determination of “irrigated areas” in 255
Tamil Nadu and Karnataka
P.7 Assessment of water for “irrigation 269
needs” in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka
P.8 Assessment of water for “Domestic and 297
Industrial Purposes” in Tamil Nadu and
4

Karnataka
P.9 Assessment of water for “Environment 305
Protection and Inevitable Escapages
into Sea” in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka
P.10 Water allocation for the State of Kerala 308
and Union Territory of Pondicherry
(presently named as ―Puducherry‖)
P.11 Final water allocation amongst 325
competing States
P.12 Monthly schedule for delivery of water 327
at inter-State contact points
Q. Mechanism (Cauvery Management Board) for 335
implementation of Tribunal’s decisions
R. Final order of the Tribunal 337
S. Arguments advanced on behalf of State of 345
Karnataka as regards the allocation of water
on various heads
S.1 Submissions of Mr. Fali S. Nariman 345
S.2 Submissions of Mr. S.S. Javali 349
S.3 Contention raised by Mr. Mohan V. 351
Katarki
S.4 Proponements of Mr. Shyam Divan 360
T. Arguments put forth by the State of Tamil 368
Nadu
T.1 Submissions of Mr. Shekhar Naphade 368
T.2 Contentions raised by Mr. Rakesh 384
Dwivedi
U. Arguments advanced on behalf of the State 387
of Kerala
V. Submissions urged on behalf of Union 395
Territory of Puducherry
W. Arguments on behalf of Union of India 398
5

X. Our findings on issues of allocation 402
X.1 Principles of apportionment to be 402
followed
X.2 Determination of ‗irrigated areas‖ in 422
Tamil Nadu and Karnataka
X.3 Assessment of water for ―irrigation 426
needs‖ in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka
X.4 Water allocation for the State of Kerala 431
X.5 Water allocation for the Union Territory 432
of Puducherry
X.6 Recognition of ground water as an 433
additional source in Tamil Nadu
X.7 Water allocation for Domestic and 438
Industrial purposes in Tamil Nadu
X.8 Water allocation for Domestic and 439
Industrial purposes of State of
Karnataka
X.9 Allocation of water towards 446
environmental protection
X.10 Revised water allocation amongst 447
competing States
Y. Interpretation of Section 6A of the 1956 Act 452
Z. The conclusions in seriatim 457

In this batch of Appeals, the assail is to the award dated

05.02.2007 passed by the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (for

brevity, ―the Tribunal‖) constituted under Section 3 of the Inter-

State Water Disputes Act, 1956 (for brevity, ―the 1956 Act‖) by three

States, namely, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala as each of them

is aggrieved by the allocation and sharing of water of river
6

Cauvery according to individual perception, perspective and

understanding. It is worthy to mention here that there are two

principal States, namely, State of Karnataka and State of Tamil

Nadu who as adversaries take the centre stage. The other two, State

of Kerala and Union Territory of Pondicherry (presently named as

―Puducherry‖) in their own way, attacked the award and also

seriously criticized the stand and stance of the main protagonists

because of their dominant, assertive and adamant attitude by

which they not only feel neglected and discriminated but have also

been compelled to harbour the idea that two of them have created

impediment in their rightful due concerning the release of water.

A. The proceedings in this Court in the present Appeals

2. Before the hearing of the Appeals commenced, on being moved

by the State of Tamil Nadu, State of Karnataka and the Central

Government, certain orders came to be passed. It is necessary to

adumbrate the nature of orders passed by this Court, for without

the said narration, it will be an incomplete narrative. We may

immediately state that we shall devote some space to the genesis of

the disputes as it travels beyond 100 years and the learned counsel

for the parties have argued with vigour and energy in that regard.
7

The said submissions shall be noted and addressed in due course.

Be it noted, at one stage, the issue of entertainability of the appeals

by special leave was raised by the Union of India and this Court had

to deal with it and delivered a judgment in State of Karnataka v.

State of Tamil Nadu and others1. Certain other orders also

reflected the stand of the contesting States and where and how they

were to be guided by the cherished principle of rule of law by

accepting the order of the Court and not take a deviant path.

3. Though the award was passed on 5th February, 2007, yet it

was published by requisite notification dated 19th February, 2013.

On 10.05.2013, in I.A. No. 5/2013 in Civil Appeal No. 2456 of 2007,

a two-Judge Bench, taking note of the notification dated 19th

February, 2013 and also considering the fact that the said

notification was under consideration of the Central Government,

passed an order constituting a Supervisory Committee as a pro tem

measure for implementation of the final order of the Cauvery Water

Disputes Tribunal dated February 5, 2007 which was notified vide

notification dated February 19, 2013. The two-Judge Bench ordered

that the said Supervisory Committee shall consist of Secretary,

1 (2017) 3 SCC 362
8

Union Ministry of Water Resources as Chairman and the Chief

Secretaries of the respective States of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu,

Kerala and Union Territory of Puducherry as members.

4. The order clarified that the aforesaid pro tem arrangement was

without prejudice to the pending civil appeals, namely, Civil Appeal

Nos. 2453 of 2007, 2454 of 2007 and 2456 of 2007. Further, the

order granted liberty to the Central Government to apply for

modification of the said arrangement as and when necessary.

5. I.A. No. 10 of 2016 in Civil Appeal No. 2456 of 2007 was filed

by the State of Tamil Nadu wherein Mr. Shekhar Naphade, learned

senior counsel who had appeared for the applicant, had contended

that the State of Karnataka had not been complying with the

directions given by the Tribunal in its final order and that the said

order had been flagrantly violated. Further, during the course of

arguments, Mr. Naphade had pointed out that if the water was not

released by the State of Karnataka, the ‗samba‘ crops would be

absolutely damaged which would lead to an unacceptable plight to

be faced by the farmers of the State of Tamil Nadu.
9

6. Per contra, Mr. Fali S. Nariman, learned senior counsel who

had appeared for the State of Karnataka, had drawn the attention

of the Bench to paragraph ‗D‘ of Clause IX of the final order of the

Tribunal which reads as under :-

―D. The Authority shall properly monitor the working of
monthly schedule with the help of the concerned States
and Central Water Commission for a period of five years
and if any modification/adjustment is needed in the
schedule thereafter, it may be worked out in consultation
with the party States, and help of Central Water
Commission for future adoption without changing the
annual allocation amongst the parties.‖

Learned senior counsel for the State of Karnataka had

submitted that it is obligatory on the part of the State of Tamil

Nadu to approach the Supervisory Committee that was constituted

vide notification dated 22nd May, 2013. Mr. Nariman had also

drawn the attention of the Bench to paragraphs 2 and 3 of the

notification which deal with the constitution and the role of the

Supervisory Committee.

For better appreciation, we think it condign to reproduce

the said paragraphs. They read as under:-

10

―Constitution of the Supervisory Committee:-

(1) There shall be a Committee under this scheme to
be known as the Supervisory Committee (hereinafter
referred to as the Committee).

(2) The Committee referred to in sub-rule(1) shall
consist of the following, namely:-

(a) Secretary, the Ministry of Chairman
Water Resources, Ex officio
Government of India

(b) Chief Secretaries to the Members,
State, Governments of Ex officio
Karnataka, Tamil Nadu,
Kerala and the Union
Territory of Puducherry or
his duly nominated
representative

(c) Chairman, Central Members,
Water Commission Ex officio

(d) Chief Engineer, Central Member-
Water Commission Secretary
Secretary

3. Role of the Committee:- The role of the Committee
shall be to give effect to the implementation of the
Order dated the 5th February, 2007 of the Tribunal:

Provided that in case of any doubt or difficulty,
the Chairman, Supervisory Committee and, if
necessary, any of the parties may apply to Hon’ble
Supreme Court for appropriate directions with notice
to the other States and the Union Territory.‖
11

During the course of proceedings of the said I.A. No.10 of

2016, Mr. Nariman, learned Senior Counsel handed over a note to

the Bench which contained certain suggestions, foremost of them

being that the State of Karnataka shall release 10000 cusecs per

day (about 0.86 TMC) from 7th September, 2016 to 12th September,

2016. Mr. Naphade, on the other hand, submitted that instead of

10000 cusecs per day (about 0.86 TMC), there should be release of

20000 cusecs of water per day.

7. The Bench, after giving a patient hearing to the learned

counsel for both the parties, passed an order on 5th September,

2016 in the following terms:-

―(a) The applicant, the State of Tamil Nadu, shall
approach the Supervisory Committee within three days
from today. Response, if any, by the State of Karnataka be
filed within three days therefrom.

(b) The Supervisory Committee shall pass appropriate
direction in this regard within four days from the date of
filing of the reference keeping in view the language
employed in the final order of the Tribunal. Be it clarified,
the Supervisory Committee is bound by the language
used in the order passed by the Tribunal.

(c) Coming to the immediate arrangement, keeping in view
the gesture shown by the State of Karnataka and the
plight that has been projected with agony by Mr.
Naphade, we think it appropriate to direct that 15 cusecs
12

of water per day be released at Biligundulu by the State of
Karnataka for ten days.

(d) The State of Tamil Nadu is directed to release water
proportionately to the Union Territory of Puducherry.‖

8. On 06.09.2016, the matter was taken up as there was a

mistake as the order dated 05.09.2016 incorrectly mentioned 10

cusecs and 20 cusecs in paragraph 1 and 15 cusecs in sub-

paragraph (c) which required to be read as 10000 cusecs, 20000

cusecs and 15000 cusecs respectively. The corrections were carried

out on that day.

9. An application for modification of the order dated 05.09.2016,

viz., I.A. No.12 of 2016 in I.A. No.10 of 2016 in Civil Appeal No.2456

of 2007 was mentioned on 11.09.2016 which was taken up on

12.09.2016 on the basis of an affidavit for urgent hearing.

10. Vide paragraph 3 of the said affidavit, the deponent had

submitted that modification of the interim order dated 5th

September, 2016 passed by this Court was necessary because of

spontaneous agitations in various parts of the State of Karnataka

which had paralyzed normal life and resulted in destruction of

public and private properties worth hundreds of crores of rupees.
13

The deponent had further submitted that modification was required

having regard to the ground realities, needs and requirements as

stated in the application.

11. The Court, after perusal of the said affidavit and the annexed

application for modification, noted that the application contained

certain averments which cannot be conceived of to be filed in a

court of law seeking modification of an earlier order. The Court

categorically stated that agitation in spontaneity or propelled by

some motivation or galvanized by any kind of catalystic component

can never form the foundation for seeking modification of an order.

The Court observed that its order was bound to be complied with by

all concerned and it is the obligation of the executive to maintain

law and order and to see that the Court‘s order is complied with in

letter and spirit. The Court further observed that citizens cannot

become law unto themselves; and when a court of law passes an

order, it is the sacred duty of the citizens to obey the same. The

Court also expressed anguish over the pleadings in the application

and also the affidavit filed for urgency and deplored the same.
14

12. Mr. Nariman, learned senior counsel appearing for the State of

Karnataka, unequivocally accepted during the hearing that the

aforesaid affidavit was erroneously drafted. However, he contended

that the prayer in essence required reconsideration of the order.

The Court thereafter proceeded to deal with the proponements of

Mr. Nariman in respect of the reliefs sought for in the application.

The application mainly sought for the modification of order of this

Court dated 05.09.2016 (as corrected on 06.09.2016) and an order

to the effect to keep in abeyance Clause (c) of the directions of this

Court in its order dated 05.09.2016 as corrected on 06.09.2016.

13. After giving due consideration to the exhaustive arguments

presented by the senior counsel for both the States, the Court was

of the view that the prayer of abeyance did not deserve acceptance

and, accordingly, rejected the same. As far as the prayer for

modification was concerned, the Court modified the order dated 5 th

September, 2016 to the extent that the State of Karnataka shall

release 12000 cusecs of water per day and that the said direction

shall remain in force till 20th September, 2016. The Court also

directed the Supervisory Committee to arrive at a decision in

conformity with the final order of the Tribunal with respect to the
15

situation of shortage of water and plight of farmers in both the

States.

14. On 20.9.2016, I.A. No.12 of 2016 in I.A. No.6 of 2016 in Civil

Appeal No.2456 of 2007 was taken up. After referring to its earlier

orders, the Court considered the submissions advanced by the

learned counsel for the parties and took note of the directions of the

Tribunal for consideration of constituting the Cauvery Management

Board. The Court, thereafter, directed the Union of India to

constitute the Cauvery Management Board within four weeks and

produce before the Court after four weeks the notification indicating

that the said Board has been constituted. As an interim measure,

the Court directed the State of Karnataka to release 6000 cusecs of

water from 21st September, 2016 till 27th September, 2016.

15. On 27.09.2016, the Court sought the assistance of the learned

Attorney General for India to apprise the Central Government to

discuss with both the States so that an interim solution could be

arrived at. On 30.09.2016, the minutes of the proceedings were

produced by learned Attorney General for India and Mr. Nariman,

learned senior counsel appearing for the State of Karnataka,
16

produced two letters and requested the same to be taken on record

and the said prayer was acceded to. Proceeding further, however,

the Court modified the order dated 5th September, 2016. The two

letters pertained to the communication between Mr. Nariman and

the State Government relating to compliance of this Court‘s order.

It is not necessary to refer to the episode in detail. It is worthy to

state here that on 04.10.2016, the matter was taken up as it was

mentioned by the learned Attorney General for India. The

mentioning related to modification of the earlier order. On that day,

as the order of this Court was complied with and that sage

controversy was put to rest. Mr. Nariman assisted the Court. We

think it necessary to state here that Mr. Nariman had courageously

lived upto the highest tradition of the Bar and we had recorded our

uninhibited accession. Be it noted, after hearing learned counsel for

the parties and Mr. Mukul Rohatgi, learned Attorney General for

India, the Court constituted a High Power Technical Team to arrive

at an interim solution and directed the State of Karnataka to

release 2000 cusecs of water from 7.10.2016 till 18.10.2016.

16. On the next date of hearing, i.e., 18.10.2016, the report of the

Committee was filed but it was noticed that the Committee had not
17

suggested anything with regard to the quantity of water. At this

juncture, the learned Attorney General for India submitted that the

appeals are not maintainable. The same stand was taken by

Mr. A.S. Nambiar, learned senior counsel appearing for the Union

Territory of Puducherry. On that day, the issue also arose for

consideration of the nature of the interim order. Regarding the

release of 2000 cusecs of water from 7.10.2016, it was submitted by

Mr. Madhusudan R. Naik, learned Advocate General of Karnataka

assisting Mr. Nariman for the State of Karnataka, that the order

dated 18.10.2016 had been complied with. After noticing the

submissions with regard to the release of water by way of interim

measure, it was decided to hear the matter on merits. On that day,

the earlier order passed by this Court was reiterated to the effect

that the executive of both the States shall see to it that peace and

harmony would be maintained in both the States and that the

citizens do not become law unto themselves. Further, it was ordered

that it would be the obligation of the executive to ensure that when

the matter is heard and the interim order has been passed and that

when the State of Karnataka is complying with the order, mutuality

of respect between both the States and the citizens should be
18

maintained. The order further impressed upon the fact that

maintenance of law and order and care for public property is a sign

of elevated democracy.

17. We have paraphrased the interim orders as we are disposed to

think that they deserve to be reproduced as the same is necessary

for what we are going to say in the final judgment.

B. Maintainability of the Appeals by Special Leave

18. As stated earlier, the learned Attorney General for India raised

the issue with regard to the maintainability of the appeals. In the

reported judgment State of Karnataka (supra), the Court has held

that when judged by the principles of statutory interpretation to

understand the legislative intendment of Section 6(2), it is clear as

crystal that the Parliament did not intend to create any kind of

embargo on the jurisdiction of this Court. The said provision was

inserted to give the binding effect to the award passed by the

Tribunal. The Court opined that the fiction has been created for

that limited purpose. Section 11 of the 1956 Act bars the

jurisdiction of the courts and needless to say, that is in consonance

with the language employed in Article 262 of the Constitution. The
19

Founding Fathers had not conferred the power on this Court to

entertain an original suit or complaint and that is luminescent from

the language employed in Article 131 of the Constitution and from

the series of pronouncements of this Court. The Court further held

that Section 6 cannot be interpreted in an absolute mechanical

manner and the words ―same force as an order or decision‖ cannot

be treated as an order or decree for the purpose of excluding the

jurisdiction of this Court. Elaborating the same, it was held that it

cannot be a decree as if this Court has adjudicated a matter and

passed a decree. The Parliament has intended that the same shall

be executed or abided as if it is a decree of this Court. The Court

further ruled that a provision should not be interpreted to give a

different colour which has a technical design rather than serving

the object of the legislation. The exposition of the principles of law

relating to fiction, the intendment of the legislature and the

ultimate purpose and effect of the provision compelled the Court to

repel the submissions raised on behalf of the Union of India that

Section 6(2) bars the jurisdiction conferred on this Court under

Article 136. At that stage, the Court clarified in the following

words:-

20

―We would like to clarify one aspect. The learned Senior
Counsel appearing for the State of Karnataka as well as
the State of Tamil Nadu have commended us to various
authorities which we have already referred to in the
context of Article 136 of the Constitution, but the purpose
behind the said delineation is to show the broad canvas of
the aforesaid constitutional provision in the context of
maintainability of the civil appeals. How the final order
passed by the Tribunal would be adjudged within the
parameters of the said constitutional provision has to be
debated when we finally address the controversy
pertaining to the subject-matter of the civil appeals.‖

19. Referring to para 82 of the judgment, it is submitted by

Mr. Nariman, learned senior counsel for the State of Karnataka,

that this Court should exercise the wide powers bestowed in it

under Article 136 of the Constitution in a case of this nature and

exercise its discretion. Similar was the submission of learned

senior counsel appearing for the other States. Be it clarified that

each one is a contesting appellant as also respondent.

20. Keeping in view the controversy at hand, we think it

appropriate to advert to the other legal issues and appreciate the

factual score on the required parameters which will be unfolded in

the course of our deliberations. We do not presently intend to state

it as wide or broad approach or restricted or narrow approach. The

said concept shall be dwelled upon at the relevant stage.
21

C. Stand of all parties pertaining to remand of the matter to
the Tribunal after deliberation of the legal issues

21. At the commencement of the hearing of the appeals, a serious

criticism was advanced on behalf of the State of Karnataka that

after the hearing before the Tribunal was closed, the State of Tamil

Nadu filed an affidavit which was marked as TN Ext. 1665 and

when objections were raised, the Tribunal had assured that the said

document would not be relied upon but unfortunately the Tribunal

had referred to the contents of the affidavit and relied upon the

same. Be it noted, the said affidavit came into existence because of

the suo motu order passed by the Tribunal on 12.11.2002 which is

as follows:-

―During the course of hearing of arguments it transpired
that most of the riparian States which are party to the
proceedings cultivate paddy and allow at least 2-3 inches
of water to remain in fields throughout till the crop
matures. We are told that this is the traditional practice
which is being followed:

In many States in India paddy crops, after
transplantation, are watered from time to time and a
particular level of water need not remain in the fields
throughout. It need not be pointed out that traditional
practice, which is being followed in Cauvery basin states
obviously will consume and require more water in the
fields.

22

Since 1973, different recommendations have been made
requesting the riparian States before us to practice
economy while utilizing waters of river Cauvery.
Learned Additional Advocate General, appearing on
behalf of the State of Tamil Nadu stated that during last
several years, steps have been taken to improve the water
use efficiency. Similar stand has been taken on behalf of
the States of Karnataka, Kerala and the Union Territory
of Pondicherry.

It need not be impressed that it better scientific methods
are adopted in cultivation of paddy, the requirement of
water is bound to be less.

All the party States and the Union Territory of
Pondicherry shall file their respective Affidavits within six
weeks from today, as to what steps have already been
taken to reduce the requirement of water for cultivation
and what steps are likely to be taken in near future. In
the Affidavit it should also be stated as to what minimum
delta is required for different crop varieties in their
respective States.‖

22. It is assiduously urged that though the said affidavit has been

filed in reply to the affidavits filed by the State of Karnataka in

pursuance of the suo motu order passed by the Tribunal, yet the

affidavit of the State of Tamil Nadu for the first time furnished its

scientific crop water requirement, that is, a detailed statement of

computed crop water requirement system fed by Mettur and other

schemes in the basin and the Tribunal, contrary to the principles of

law of evidence and in violation of the principal facet of natural
23

justice, took the same on record and marked it as Ext. 1665. The

Tribunal, as averred by the senior counsel for the State of

Karnataka, had clarified that the affidavit filed by Tamil Nadu would

not be relied upon in support of its case and that the case would be

considered on the facts and documents already brought on record.

23. The said submission was equally seriously resisted by the

State of Tamil Nadu by stating that the said affidavit did not contain

anything new but was only a compilation of the materials already

brought on record. As the debate continued, it was suggested to

the learned counsel for the parties whether it would be advisable to

remit the matter to the Tribunal on the said score. At this juncture,

Mr. Nariman, learned senior counsel appearing for the State of

Karnataka, submitted that considering more than 27 years had

elapsed from the date of constituting the Tribunal and also

considering that all the State parties to the dispute were before this

Court and that each of them had challenged the Tribunal’s final

order, it would be appropriate for this Court to exercise its authority

under Article 136 of the Constitution of India and decide the matter

finally. He submitted that as per judicial pronouncements, the

power of this Court under Article 136 read with Article 142 being
24

plenary, is exercisable outside the purview of ordinary law in cases

where the need of justice demands interference as in the present

case. The current dispute is a unique one affecting the lives of

millions of people and the stakes involved are unparalleled. He

submitted that remanding the matter to the Tribunal for fresh

consideration would be an exercise in futility and a drain on the

resources of all the parties concerned which must be eschewed.

24. We may fruitfully state here that all the learned counsel, at

least on this issue, unanimously stated that the remand is no

solution to such a dispute and this Court should decide the legal

and factual issues so that the controversy is put to rest. Thereafter,

the hearing of the appeals continued. Accordingly, we shall proceed

to decide the various legal issues which are of priority and upmost

concern and thereafter advert to the approach to be adopted in the

obtaining factual matrix.

D. Reference of the dispute to the Tribunal

25. The State of Tamil Nadu lodged a request before the

Government of India raising a water dispute and requesting for

adjudication of the same by a Tribunal constituted under Section 3
25

of the 1956 Act. In the said complaint dated 6th July, 1986, it was

stated on behalf of the State of Tamil Nadu that a water dispute had

arisen with the Government of Karnataka by reason of the fact that

the interests of the State of Tamil Nadu and the inhabitants thereof

in the waters of Cauvery, which is an inter-State river, had been

prejudicially affected. The relevant part of the said communication

reads as follows:-

―(a) the executive action taken by the Karnatka State in
constructing Kabini, Hemavathi, Harangi, Swrnavathi
and other projects and expanding the aycut–

(i) Which executive action has resulted in materially
diminishing the supply of waters to Tamil Nadu.

(ii) Which executive action has materially affected the
prescriptive rights of the ayacutdar already acquired
and existing;

(iii) Which executive action is also in violation of the
1892 and 1924 agreements; and

(b) the failure of the Karnataka Government to
implement distribution and control of the Cauvery
waters.

The bilateral negotiations hitherto held between the
States of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have totally failed.

Also all sincere attempts so far made by the Government
of India to settle this long pending water dispute by
negotiations since 1970 have totally failed.

26

Therefore, this request is made by the Government
of Tamil Nadu to the Government of India under Section
3 of the Inter-State Water Disputes Act, 1956 to refer this
water dispute to a Tribunal.‖

26. The complaint referred to the matters connected with the

dispute and the efforts made for settling the disputes by

negotiations. The broad features pointed out are the ―River

Cauvery‖, ―Development of Irrigation in the Cauvery Basin‖, ―The

Inter-State Agreements of 1892 and 1924‖, ―Violation of the

aforesaid two agreements by Karnataka‖, ―Tamil Nadu‘s concern‖,

―Tamil Nadu‘s first call for adjudication in September, 1969‖, ―Tamil

Nadu‘s formal request for adjudication in February, 1970‖, Tamil

Nadu‘s continued participation in the discussion and negotiations‖,

―Filing of suit by Tamil Nadu in the Supreme Court‖, ―Prime

Minister‘s advice‖, ―The Cauvery Fact Finding Committee (CFFC)‖,

―Consideration of the proposals put forth by the Union

Government‖, ―Last bilateral discussions with Karnataka held on

23rd November, 1985‖, ―Chief Ministers‘ meeting held at Bangalore

(now known as Bengaluru) on 16 June, 1986‖ and the narration of

the events. Thereafter, there was a request for expeditious action for
27

referring the dispute to the Tribunal. The said part reads as

follows:-

―From 1974-75 onwards, the Government of Karnataka
has been impounding all the flows in their reservoirs.
Only after their reservoirs are filled up, the surplus flows
are let down. The injury inflicted on this State in the past
decade due to the unilateral action of Karnataka and the
suffering we had in running around for a few TMC of
water every time the crops reached the withering stage
has been briefly stated in note (Enclosure—XXVIII). It is
patent that the Government of Karnataka have badly
violated the inter-State agreements and caused
irreparable harm to the age old irrigation in this State.
Year after year, the realisation at Mettur is falling fast
and thousands of acres in our ayacut in the basin are
forced to remain fallow. The bulk of the existing ayacut in
Tamil Nadu concentrated mainly in Thanjavur and
Thiruchirappalli districts is already gravely affected in
that the cultivation operations are getting long delayed,
traditional double crop lands are getting reduced to
single crop lands and crops even in the single crop lands
are withering and failing for want of adequate wettings at
crucial times. We are convinced that the inordinate delay
in solving the dispute is taken advantage of by the
Government of Karnataka in extending their canal
systems and their ayacut in the new projects and every
day of delay is adding to the injury caused to our existing
irrigation.

The Government of Tamil Nadu are of the firm view that
the “water dispute with the Government of Karnataka
has arisen by reason of the fact that the interests of the
State of Tamil Nadu and the inhabitants thereof in the
waters of Cauvery, which is an inter-State liver have been
affected prejudicially by —
28

(a) the executive action taken by the Karnataka State
in constructing Kabini, Hemavathi, Harangi,
Swarnavathi and other projects and expanding the
ayacuts:

(i) which executive action has resulted in
materially diminishing the supply of waters to
Tamil Nadu;

(ii) which executive action has materially affected
the prescriptive rights of the avacutdars
already acquired and ‘existing; and

(iii) which executive action is also in violation of
the 1892 and 1924 Agreements ; and

(b) the failure of the Karnataka Government, to
implement the terms of the 1892 and 1924
Agreements relating to the use, distribution and
control of the Cauvery waters.

The bilateral negotiations hitherto held between the
States of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have totally failed.

Also all sincere attempts so far made by the Government
of India to settle this long pending water dispute by
negotiations since 1970 have, totally failed.

I am therefore to request the Central Government to refer
the Cauvery Water Dispute to a Tribunal for adjudication
under the provisions of Section 4 of the inter-State Water
Disputes Act, 1956 without any delay.‖

27. On the basis of the aforesaid letter of request, the Central

Government, by the notification dated June 2, 1990, constituted

the Tribunal and passed the following order of reference:-
29

―No. 21/1/90-WD
Government of India
(Bharat Sarkar)
Ministry of Water Resources
(Jal Sansadhan Mantralaya)
New Delhi, June 2, 1990

Reference
In the exercise of the powers conferred by sub-
section (1) of Section 5, of the Interstate Water
Disputes Act, 1956 (33 of 1956), the Central
Government hereby refers to the Cauvery Water
Disputes Tribunal for adjudication, the water disputes
regarding the interstate river Cauvery and the river
valley thereof, emerging from Letter No. 17527/K2/82-
110 dated July 6, 1986 from the Government of Tamil
Nadu (copy enclosed).

By order and in the name
of the President of India
(M.A. Chitale)
Secretary, (Water Resources)
Chairman,
The Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal,
New Delhi‖

E. The initial proceedings before the Tribunal

28. During the pendency of the reference, the Government of

Tamil Nadu filed CMP No.4 of 1990 praying that the State of

Karnataka be directed not to impound or utilize the water of
30

Cauvery river beyond the extent impounded or utilized by them as

on May 31, 1972 as agreed to by the Chief Ministers of the basin

States and the Union of India for irrigation and power. It was also

prayed that an order be passed restraining the State of Karnataka

from notifying any new projects, dams, reservoirs, canals, etc.,

and/or from proceeding further with the construction of projects,

dams, reservoirs, canals, etc., in the Cauvery basin. The Union

Territory of Puducherry filed CMP No. 5 of 1990 on 8.9.1990

seeking an interim order directing the State of Karnataka and

Kerala to release the water already agreed to during the months of

September to March. An emergent petition was filed by the State of

Tamil Nadu forming the subject matter of CMP No.9 of 1990 to

direct the State of Karnataka to release at least 20 TMC of water as

the first installment pending formal orders in CMP No.4 of 1990.

The said prayers were seriously opposed by the State of Karnataka

and the State of Kerala on merits as well as on a preliminary

objection that the Tribunal had no power or jurisdiction to entertain

the said petitions and to grant any interim relief. The Tribunal

upheld the objections raised by the State of Karnataka and the

State of Kerala holding that the said applications were not
31

maintainable in law and, accordingly, dismissed the same.

Aggrieved by the said orders, special leave petition was filed for

seeking leave to assail the said order. This Court passed the

judgment in State of Tamil Nadu v. State of Karnataka and

others2 wherein the majority view stated by N.M. Kasliwal, J. is

extracted below:-

―22. The above passage clearly goes to show that the
State of Tamil Nadu was claiming for an immediate relief
as year after year, the realisation at Mettur was falling
fast and thousands of acres in their ayacut in the basin
were forced to remain fallow. It was specifically
mentioned that the inordinate delay in solving the
dispute is taken advantage of by the Government of
Karnataka in extending their canal systems and their
ayacut in the new projects and every day of delay is
adding to the injury caused to their existing irrigation.
The Tribunal was thus clearly wrong in holding that the
Central Government had not made any reference for
granting any interim relief. We are not concerned,
whether the appellants are entitled or not, for any interim
relief on merits, but we are clearly of the view that the
reliefs prayed by the appellants in their C.M.P. Nos. 4, 5
and 9 of 1990 clearly come within the purview of the
dispute referred by the Central Government under
Section 5 of the Act. The Tribunal has not held that it
had no incidental and ancillary powers for granting an
interim relief, but it has refused to entertain the C.M.P.

Nos. 4, 5 and 9 on the ground that the reliefs prayed in
these applications had not been referred by the Central
Government. In view of the above circumstances we think
it is not necessary for us to decide in this case, the larger

2 1991 Supp (1) SCC 240
32

question whether a Tribunal constituted under the
Interstate Water Disputes Act has any power or not to
grant any interim relief. In the present case the
appellants become entitled to succeed on the basis of the
finding recorded by us in their favour that the reliefs
prayed by them in their C.M.P. Nos. 4, 5 and 9 of 1990
are covered in the reference made by the Central
Government. It may also be noted that at the fag end of
the arguments it was submitted before us on behalf of
the State of Karnataka that they were agreeable to
proceed with the CMPs on merits before the Tribunal on
the terms that all party States agreed that all questions
arising out of or connected with or relevant to the water
dispute (set out in the respective pleadings of the
respective parties), including all applications for interim
directions/reliefs by party States be determined by the
Tribunal on merits. However, the above terms were not
agreeable to the State of Tamil Nadu as such we have
decided the appeals on merits.‖

Sahai, J. opined thus:-

―I agree with brother Kasliwal, J. that under the
constitutional set up it is one of the primary
responsibilities of this Court to determine jurisdiction
power and limits of any tribunal or authority created
under a statute. But I have reservations on other issues
including the construction of the letter dated July 6,
1986. However, it is not necessary for me to express any
opinion on it since what started as an issue of profound
constitutional and legal importance fizzled out when the
States of Karnataka and Kerala stated through their
counsel that they were agreeable for determination of the
applications for interim directions on merits.‖

29. In view of the aforesaid directions, the Tribunal heard the said

applications of Karnataka and Puducherry. Before the Tribunal,
33

objections were again raised on behalf of the State of Karnataka

with regard to the maintainability of the applications filed by the

State of Tamil Nadu and Union Territory of Puducherry for interim

relief. The Tribunal did not countenance that objection and

expressed the view that the directions given by this Court were

binding on it. The Tribunal proceeded to decide the applications on

merits and, vide its order dated June 25, 1991, and on a detailed

analysis of the materials available, it directed the State of

Karnataka, as an interim measure, to ensure that 205 TMC of water

is available in Tamil Nadu’s Mettur Reservoir in a year from June to

May. The modalities for regulating the release of water so fixed

were also laid down with a further direction that 6 TMC of water for

Karaikal region of the Union Territory of Puducherry would be

delivered by the State of Tamil Nadu. The State of Karnataka was

restrained from increasing its area under irrigation by the waters of

the river of Cauvery beyond the existing 11.2 lakh acres. In issuing

this direction, the Tribunal was guided by the consideration that

pending final adjudication, the rights of the parties ought to be

preserved and it was also ensured that by the unilateral action of

one party, the other party was not prejudiced from getting
34

appropriate relief at the time of passing of final orders. In

quantifying the volume of 205 TMC of water to be released by the

State of Karnataka from its reservoirs for Tamil Nadu’s Mettur

reservoir, the Tribunal construed the average of the annual flow of

waters of the river Cauvery into the reservoir of Mettur Dam in

Tamil Nadu as the reasonable basis. For the said purpose, amongst

other aspects, it took note of the inflow of water into Mettur Dam for

a period of 10 years, i.e., 1980-81 to 1989-90 and worked out the

figure by leaving out of scrutiny the abnormally good years and bad

years and, thus, arrived at the figure of 205 TMC. While

entertaining the grievance of State of Tamil Nadu to the effect that

the releases ought to be made timely to meet the need of cultivation

of crops for which it set down the norms, it noted that the State of

Kerala had not applied for any interim order.

F. The issue of Ordinance by the State of Karnataka and the
Presidential Reference

30. The State of Karnataka, however, on 25.07.1991, promulgated

an Ordinance captioned ―The Karnataka Cauvery Basin Irrigation

Protection Ordinance, 1991‖ which, for all intents and purposes,
35

sought to negate the effect of the interim order dated 25.06.1991.

The said Ordinance reads as follows:-

―An Ordinance to provide in the interest of the general
public for the protection and preservation of irrigation in
irrigable areas of the Cauvery basin in Karnataka
dependent on the waters of the Cauvery river and its
tributaries.

Whereas the Karnataka Legislative Council is not in
session and the Governor of Karnataka is satisfied that
circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to
take immediate action, for the protection and
preservation of irrigation in the irrigable areas of the
Cauvery basin in Karnataka dependent on the water of
Cauvery river and its tributaries.

Now, therefore, in exercise of the power conferred under
clause (1) of Article 213 of Constitution of India, I,
Khurshed Alam Khan, Governor of Karnataka, am
pleased to promulgate the following Ordinance, namely:

1. Short title, extent and commencement.— (1) This
Ordinance may be called the Karnataka Cauvery Basin
Irrigation Protection Ordinance, 1991.

(2) It extends to the whole of the State of Karnataka.

(3) It shall come into force at once.

2. Definition.— Unless the context otherwise requires:

(a) ‗Cauvery basin‘ means the basin area of the Cauvery
river and its tributaries lying within the territory of the
State of Karnataka.

36

(b) ‗Irrigable area‘ means the areas specified in the
Schedule.

(c) ‗Schedule‘ means the Schedule annexed to this
Ordinance.

(d) ‗Water year‘ means the year commencing with the first
of June of a calendar year and ending with the thirty-first
of May of the next calendar year.

3. Protection of irrigation in irrigable area.— (1) It shall be
the duty of the State Government to protect, preserve and
maintain irrigation from the waters of the Cauvery river
and its tributaries in the irrigable area under the various
projects specified in the Schedule.

(2) For the purpose of giving effect to sub-section (1) the
State Government may abstract or cause to be
abstracted, during every water year, such quantity of
water as it may deem requisite, from the flows of the
Cauvery river and its tributaries, in such manner and
during such intervals as the State Government or any
officer, not below the rank of an Engineer-in-Chief
designated by it, may deem fit and proper.

4. Overriding effect of the Ordinance.— The provisions of
this Ordinance, (and of any Rules and Orders made
thereunder), shall have effect notwithstanding anything
contained in any order, report or decision of any Court or
Tribunal (whether made before or after the
commencement of this Ordinance), save and except a
final decision under the provisions of sub-section (2) of
Section 5 read with Section 6 of the Inter-State Water
Disputes Act, 1956.

5. Power to remove difficulties.— If any difficulty arises in
giving effect to the provisions of this Ordinance, the State
37

Government may, by order, as occasion requires, do
anything (not inconsistent with the provisions of this
Ordinance) which appears to be necessary for purpose of
removing the difficulty.

6. Power to make rules.— (1) The State Government may,
by notification in the official Gazette make rules to carry
out the purpose of this Ordinance.

(2) Every rule made under this Ordinance shall be laid as
soon as be after it is made, before each House of the
State legislature while it is in session for a total period of
thirty days which may be comprised in one session or in
two or more sessions and if before the expiry of the said
period, either House of the State legislature makes any
modification in any rule or order or directs that any rule
or order shall not have effect, and if the modification or
direction is agreed to by the other House, such rule or
order shall thereafter have effect only in such modified
form or be no effect, as the case may be.‖

31. The notification mentioned a schedule of area which refers to

irrigable areas in the Cauvery basin of Karnataka under various

projects including minor irrigation works. The State of Karnataka

instituted a suit under Article 131 against the State of Tamil Nadu

and others seeking a declaration that the order of the Tribunal

granting interim relief was without jurisdiction. In the meantime,

the Ordinance stood replaced by the Act 27 of 1991 and the said

Act reproduced the provisions of the Ordinance in verbatim except

that in Section 4 of the Act, the words ‗any court‘ were omitted and
38

Section 7 was added repealing the Ordinance. After the Act was

passed, the President under Article 143, on July 27, 1991, referred

three questions for opinion of this Court. The reference reads as

follows:-

―WHEREAS, in exercise of the powers conferred by
Section 4 of the Inter-State Water Disputes Act, 1956
(hereinafter referred to as ―the Act‖), the Central
Government constituted a Water Disputes Tribunal called
―the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal‖ (hereinafter called
―the Tribunal‖) by a notification dated June 2, 1990, a
copy whereof is annexed hereto, for the adjudication of
the Water Dispute regarding the Inter-State River
Cauvery;

WHEREAS on June 25, 1991, the Tribunal passed an
interim order (hereinafter referred to as ―the Order‖), a
copy whereof is annexed hereto;

WHEREAS, differences have arisen with regard to
certain aspects of the Order;

WHEREAS, on July 25, 1991, the Governor of
Karnataka promulgated the Karnataka Cauvery Basin
Irrigation Protection Ordinance, 1991 (hereinafter
referred to as ―the Ordinance‖), a copy whereof is
annexed hereto;

WHEREAS, doubts have been expressed with regard to
the constitutional validity of the Ordinance and its
provisions;

WHEREAS, there is likelihood of the constitutional
validity of the provisions of the Ordinance, and any
39

action taken thereunder, being challenged in courts of
law involving protracted and avoidable litigation;

WHEREAS, the said differences and doubts have given
rise to a public controversy which may lead to
undesirable consequences;

AND WHEREAS, in view of what is hereinbefore stated,
it appears to me that the following questions of law have
arisen and are of such nature and of such public
importance that it is expedient to obtain the opinion of
the Supreme Court of India thereon;

NOW, THEREFORE, in exercise of the powers
conferred upon me by clause (1) of Article 143 of the
Constitution of India, I, Ramaswamy Venkataraman,
President of India, hereby refer the following questions to
the Supreme Court of India for consideration and report
thereon, namely:

(1) Whether the Ordinance and the provisions thereof are
in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution;

(2) (i) Whether the Order of the Tribunal constitutes a
report and a decision within the meaning of Section 5(2)
of the Act; and

(ii) Whether the Order of the Tribunal is required to be
published by the Central Government in order to make it
effective;

(3) Whether a Water Disputes Tribunal constituted under
the Act is competent to grant any interim relief to the
parties to the dispute.‖
40

32. To deal with the reference, the Constitution Bench narrated

the factual background that had led to the reference. After

analyzing various aspects, the opinion was expounded in the

following terms:-

―Question No. 1: The Karnataka Cauvery Basin Irrigation
Protection Ordinance, 1991 passed by the Governor of
Karnataka on July 25, 1991 (now the Act) is beyond the
legislative competence of the State and is, therefore, ultra
vires the Constitution.

Question No. 2: (i) The order of the Tribunal dated June
25, 1991 constitutes report and decision within the
meaning of Section 5(2) of the Inter-State Water Disputes
Act, 1956;

(ii) the said Order is, therefore, required to be published
by the Central Government in the official Gazette under
Section 6 of the Act in order to make it effective.

Question No. 3: (i) A Water Disputes Tribunal constituted
under the Act is competent to grant any interim relief to
the parties to the dispute when a reference for such relief
is made by the Central Government;

(ii) whether the Tribunal has power to grant interim relief
when no reference is made by the Central Government
for such relief is a question which does not arise in the
facts and circumstances under which the Reference is
made. Hence we do not deem it necessary to answer the
same.‖

33. The aforesaid decision also noted a certain aspect which has

been highlighted by the State of Karnataka in the course of
41

arguments and we shall be dealing with it in extenso at a later

stage. In paragraph 4 of the judgment, the Court stated:-

―4. There were two agreements of 1892 and 1924 for
sharing the water of the river between the areas which
are predominantly today comprised in the States of
Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, and which were at the
time of the agreements comprised in the then
Presidency of Madras on the one hand and the State of
Mysore on the other. The last agreement expired in
1974….‖

Again in paragraph 11, the Court observed:-

―…… In the said letter, Tamil Nadu primarily made a
grievance against the construction of works in the
Karnataka area and the appropriation of water
upstream so as to prejudice the interests downstream
in the State of Tamil Nadu. It also sought the
implementation of the agreements of 1892 and 1924
which had expired in 1974.‖

34. The State of Karnataka, still undaunted by such reverses, filed

an application before the Tribunal to recall its order dated

25.06.1991 citing several grounds justifying such review. The

Tribunal, vide its order dated 07.04.1992, however, declined to

interfere with its earlier order dated 25.06.1991 with the

observation that in case, thereafter, there was any change in

circumstance or undue hardship in a particular year to any party,

it would be open to such party to approach it for appropriate
42

orders. The stage being thus set, following the submissions of the

respective statements of cases, counters and rejoinders, the

Tribunal framed the following issues:-

―(1) Are both the Agreements of 1892 and 1924 or either
of them, invalid?

(2) Are both the Agreements of 1892 and 1924 or either
of them invalid because of the alleged oppression or
because the same were between the “unequal
Riparian States” as claimed by the State of
Karnataka?

(3) Are both the Agreements of 1892 and 1924 binding
and enforceable upon all the parties to the present
reference (dispute)?

(4) Are both the Agreements of 1892 and 1924, in so
far as the river Cauvery and its tributaries are
concerned invalid, on the ground that the then
Chief Commissioner’s Province of Coorg, Podukottai
State, Travancore State and the French settlement
of Pondicherry and Karaikal, were not parties to the
said Agreement?

(5) Whether the circumstances, that, the Agreements of
1892 and 1924 were not executed also on behalf of
the then Chief Commissioner’s Province of Coorg,
Podukottai State, Travancore State and the French
settlement of Pondicherry and Karaikal, made the
said Agreements not binding and unenforceable
against parties to the present reference.

(6) Is the State of Karnataka estopped from challenging
both the Agreements of 1892 and 1924 or either of
them, on the ground that it had said to have been
acted upon?

43

(7) Is the State of Karnataka entitled to contend that in
any view of the matter the State of Tamil Nadu had
waived the rights claimed by it under the
Agreements of 1892 and 1924?

(8) Has there been any breach of both the Agreements
of 1892 and 1924 or either of them, by any of the
States. If so, what is the effect of any such breach
upon the rights of the parties to the present
reference?

(9) Did both the Agreements of 1892 and 1924 or either
of them provide for a fair and equitable distribution
of waters of the river Cauvery and its tributaries to
the parties of these Agreements?

(10) (i) Could there be prescriptive rights as claimed by
the State of Tamil Nadu/Union Territory of
Pondicherry, in their pleadings.

(ii) If the answer to (i) is in affirmative, what was the
nature of such prescriptive rights, and

(iii) Whether the Agreements of 1892 and 1924 or
either of them, were in recognition of the
prescriptive rights as claimed by the State of Tamil
Nadu?

(11) Have both the Agreements of 1892 and 1924 or
either of them ceased to be operative and
enforceable and binding because of subsequent
events including enactment of various laws and
happening of changed circumstances?

(12) What would be the true and proper construction of
both the Agreements of 1892 and 1924, and their
legal consequences?

(13) Were the Rules of Regulation in Annexure I to the
Agreement of 1924 arbitrary, unconscionable and
44

excessive to the requirements of the areas which
then formed part of the Province of Madras?

(14) Whether the Rules and Regulation in Annexure I to
the Agreement of 1924, are arbitrary and
inequitable on the ground that the same were
excessive to the requirements of the areas which
now form the part of the State of Tamil Nadu?

(15) Does the entire Agreement of 1924 stand terminated
at the expiry of 50 years from the date of its
execution? Does not the said agreement continue to
subsist even after the expiry of the period of 50
years, subject to the modifications to be made to it
in accordance with clause 10(xi) of the same
Agreement? What is the true scope and effect of
clause 10(xi) of the Agreement?

(16) If the answer to the first part of issue 15 is in the
affirmative, whether the 1892 Agreement ought to
continue in force until a new Agreement is entered
into or the respective rights of the basin States are
determined in accordance with law?

(17) What is the present relevance and also the effect of
the deliberations of the Cauvery Fact Finding
Committee, and of the Study Team conducted by
Shri CC Patel, Additional Secretary to the
Government of India, and also of reports, measures
and surveys conducted by other agencies?

(18) Upon a true and proper assessment made according
to the reliable and scientific method, what would be
the approximate available surface waters of the
Cauvery basin including the delta region?

(19) Whether the Agreement of 1892 was operative and
enforceable also in respect of those tributaries of the
river Cauvery which were not specifically mentioned
in the Schedule ‘A’ to the said Agreement?

45

(20) What is the extent of additional/alternative means
of water resources available in the Cauvery basin by
appropriate exploitation of ground water potentials
and by trans-basin diversion?

(21) What is the approximate volume of ground water in
each one of the States/Union Territory which are
parties to the Reference and whether the said
availability of ground water, if any, should be
relevant in making fair and equitable distribution of
the Cauvery river waters?

(22) What should be the basis on which the availability
of waters be determined for apportionment, namely,
dependability or on percentage basis? If it is on
percentage basis, what ought to be the said
percentage?

(23) Whether there is wastage of waters in appreciable
volume or quantity, either in the basin or in the
delta areas of the Cauvery river? If so, what is its
effect, if any, on the fair and equitable distribution
of waters of the river Cauvery?

(24) Whether directions need be issued to the parties for
ensuring that the cropping patterns are compatible
with the rainfall and the river flows and other
relevant factors and whether such directions, if any,
would be feasible and germane for making equitable
and fair distribution of the waters of the river
Cauvery?

(25) What is the extent of the return flow of water used
in irrigation by the different parties and what would
be its effect on the apportionment of Cauvery waters
among them?

(26) What is the extent of drought prone/affected areas
in the Cauvery basin region in each of the party
46

States, and what is its effect, if any, in making
equitable apportionment of waters?

(27) Should trans-basin diversion of the water of rivers
Kabini and Bhavani be permitted for generation of
power and for irrigation and water supply by the
State of Kerala? If so, to what extent and subject to
what conditions and with what safeguards?

(28) Whether generation of power by trans-basin
diversion of water by the parties would be legal and
justified, particularly, if a part of such power would
be utilised by the people of the river basin itself?

(29) Are the States of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu
resorting to trans-basin diversion of the waters of
river Cauvery? If so, whether those States can be
permitted to object to the proposed trans-basin
diversion of the water by the State of Kerala?

(30) Should any preference or priority be given to
utilization of water in a manner such that it can
generate power as well as meet the needs of
irrigation and water supply within the
basin/outside the basin area?

(31) What is the extent of the contribution by the
different States to the total flow in the Cauvery river
and what would be its relevance for equitable
apportionment of waters to the party States?

(32) Whether directions are required to be issued to
ensure that the waters of the Cauvery and its
tributaries maybe developed by each of the States,
singly or jointly, to generate maximum hydroelectric
power without detriment to irrigation uses?

(33) Is the State of Karnataka entitled to compensation
for the loss suffered as averred in paragraphs 18.9
to 18.11 of the Statement of Case of Karnataka and
47

as per averments in paragraphs 34 to 41 of the
Counter of Karnataka to the Statement of Case of
Tamil Nadu?

(34) Whether any order/direction should be issued upon
any one or more of the States for regulated release
of the Cauvery waters and whether in that event
compensation is to be awarded in favour of the
parties, prejudicially affected thereby?

(35) To what extent should Kerala be permitted to utilise
the waters generated in Kerala when such
utilisation in Kerala would secure either more or
equal benefit for the country and its people than by
its utilisation in any of the other States?

(36) Whether the State of Kerala requires a part of
Cauvery water for generation of power, and, if so, to
what extent?

(37) Whether shortage of food in any of the States would
be a relevant factor to be taken into consideration in
making the apportionment of the Cauvery water?

(38) Whether the backwardness, under-developed and
allegedly neglected area of a particular State would
be relevant matters in making a fair and equitable
distribution of the water of the Cauvery river?

(39) Whether the construction works executed by the
State of Tamil Nadu in the Upper Bhavani,
Vargarpallam West and Vargarpallam East, have
unreasonably deprived the rights of the State of
Kerala in the natural flow of the waters of the river
Cauvery and, if so, to what effect?

(40) Whether the executive action taken by Karnataka in
constructing Kabini, Hemavathi, Harangi,
Suvarnavathy and other projects and expanding its
ayacuts has prejudicially affected the interests of
48

Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, materially diminished
the supply of waters to Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry
and materially affected the prescriptive rights
claimed by Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry on behalf of
their ayacutdars?

(41) Whether the above said executive action taken by
Karnataka is in violation of 1892 and 1924
Agreements?

(42) Whether the State of Tamil Nadu is entitled to
compensation for the loss, damage and injury
caused by the failure on the part of Karnataka to
implement the terms of 1924 Agreement after 1974?

(43) If the answer to the above issue No.42 is in the
affirmative, what is the amount of compensation to
which Tamil Nadu is entitled?

(44) What is the equitable share of the Union Territory of
Pondicherry in the waters of the inter-State river
Cauvery?

(45) Is the understanding reached between the then
Governor of French Settlement in India Pondicherry
and the then Governor of Madras on 6thSeptember,
1926 to maintain adequate supply of water to the
French Territory still subsisting and as such
enforceable against the State of Tamil Nadu?

(46) Whether the projects executed by the States of
Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have unreasonably
impaired the free flow of water of the river Cauvery
into the Union Territory of Pondicherry?

(47) On what basis should the available waters be
determined?

(48) How and on what basis should the equitable
apportionment be made?

49

(49) What directions, if any, should be given for the
equitable apportionment and for the beneficial use
of the waters of the river Cauvery and its
tributaries?

(50) What directions, if any, are required to be given
regarding the sharing of distress and surplus
among the concerned parties to the reference in the
event of the waters of the Cauvery falling short of
the allocated quantum or being surplus to the
same?‖

35. Subsequent thereto, evidence was recorded. However, prior to

the arguments, the issues, for the purpose of convenience, were

regrouped finally as hereunder:-

―Sl.No. Subject Issue No.
1. Agreements of 1892 and 1924
a) Arbitrary and inequitable 9, 13 14
b) Prescriptive rights and other claims 10 40
c) Construction and review
of agreements 12, 15 16
d) Breach of agreements and
Consequences 8, 33, 40 to 43
e) Constitutional and legal 1 to 7,11 19
validity and enforceability

2. Availability of water –
surface flows, additional/ 18, 20 to 22, 25,
alternative resources 27, 29, 31 47

3. Equitable apportionment and 26, 31, 34,37,
related subjects: 38, 47 to 50
i) Cropping pattern
ii) Trans-basin diversion
iii) Relevant date of apportionment
50

iv) Relevance of projects completed
or otherwise.‖

36. Reverting to the sequence of events, the Central Government

finally, to give effect to the interim order dated 25.06.1991 passed

by the Tribunal, by notification dated 11.08.1998, framed a scheme

titled ―The Cauvery Water (Implementation of the

Interim Order of 1991 and all subsequent Related Orders of the

Tribunal) Scheme, 1998 which, amongst others, provided for the

constitution of the Cauvery River Authority, delineated its role,

powers and functions.

37. The Cauvery River Authority (Conduct of Business) Rules,

1998 were also framed and given effect to from 14.07.2000 in order

to regulate the conduct of business of the Cauvery River Authority

as provided in Clause 3(2) of the Cauvery Water (Implementation of

the Interim Order of 1991 and all subsequent Related Orders of the

Tribunal).

G. The genesis of the controversy

38. Having stated the issues framed before the Tribunal, we would

have proceeded to deal with the primary legal issues. However, it is

requisite to state the genesis of the reference to the Tribunal.
51

Having narrated the facts to this extent, we think it appropriate to

go to the narration of events which have been graphically exposited

before us. It goes back to the year 1799. We do not intend to refer

to the unnecessary facets except those which had been expounded

to espouse the legal aspect. The first agreement between the

Madras Presidency and the State of Mysore was entered into in the

year 1892. Prior to entering into the said agreement, there was

correspondence between the British Resident in Mysore and the

Government of Madras. It is worthy to note here that after the

defeat of Tipu Sultan by the British, the Wadiyars, Rulers of the

State of Mysore, were decored with the crown under Subsidiary

Alliance Treaty in 1799. The State of Mysore undertook certain

works in its territory pertaining to restoration of river which was

protested by the Collector of Tanjore in the Madras Presidency. The

correspondence continued which is not necessary to be referred to.

In the year 1881, the Viceroy and the Governor General of India, by

an Instrument of Transfer 1881, restored the administration of the

Princely State of Mysore to another scion of the Wadiyar family by

signing the ―Sanad‖ described as ―Instrument of Transfer‖. Be it

stated here, the State of Karnataka asserts that it was not a treaty
52

but a ―Sanad‖ as is reflected from the communication made by the

British Foreign Secretary in his dispatch of 1874. The relevant part

reads as follows:-

“He is in reality the recipient of favours – the person
who benefits by the avowedly liberal policy of
Government – and it seems to me to be in every way
more becoming that the Government should attach
its own conditions to its gift, and that these should
be set forth in a Sanad or patent to be granted by
Government to the Maharaja.”

39. As contended by the State of Karnataka, the ―Instrument of

Transfer‖ of 1881 placed the Maharaja in possession of the

territories of Mysore and in the administration thereof, and declared

that he would be entitled to hold possession thereof and administer

them only so long as he fulfilled the conditions prescribed in the

Instrument of Transfer. Emphasis has been laid on paragraphs 22

and 23 of the said instrument. After the year 1881, the British

Government of Madras Presidency raised objections as regards the

fact that there was continued implementation of the schemes for

restoration of tanks in Mysore by stating that the Presidency of

Madras had a right to uninterrupted natural flow in the river. On

13th June, 1889, the British Resident in Mysore thought it

appropriate to remind the Dewan of Mysore that the British
53

Resident could not accept the Dewan‘s stand and that Mysore had

the right to utilize to the fullest extent the natural water forces

flowing through its territory. The relevant part of the letter reads

thus:-

“In the first place international law is not applicable to a
feudatory State like Mysore in its dealings with the
paramount power. Even if it were so, international law
would not give Mysore the right claimed. Its position with
reference to Madras territory is something similar to that
of Switzerland … The principle which should be taken as
your guide in this important question is that no scheme
for stopping the flow of water from Mysore into Madras
territory will be permitted if it can be shown to be
detrimental to the interests of the latter.‖

40. On 20.11.1889, the British Government of Madras Presidency

issued the following order:-

―The Mysore Government cannot claim to improve its
irrigation works by impounding or diverting the supply of
streams which feed works in British territory and to the
water of which the British Government has acquired a
prescriptive right.‖

41. As the factual matrix would unroll, on 10.05.1890, a

conference was held at Ooty where the Princely State of Mysore put

forward its claim for the restoration of irrigation works which had

been inaugurated during the British Government Administration in

Mysore (1831-1881), but the claim was rejected by the then British
54

Resident who formally expressed the opinion that the assertion of

unlimited rights of Mysore was extreme and untenable. The

minutes, among other things, recorded thus:-

“… After some argument the Diwan stated his position as
follows: …Madras rights extend only to the supply which
has been actually turned to account for irrigation…”
“Mr. Stokes said that …He refused to admit that the
Madras rights to the flow in the rivers was limited to the
amount actually turned to account for irrigation, and
contended that Madras is entitled by prescription to the
whole flow allowed to pass the frontier, at which point
Mysore loses all right or interest in it…”

42. As the time passed, the Government of India, on 21st August,

1891, clarified in a publication in the Official Gazette of India No.

1700/E the relationship between the Government of India as

represented by the Queen Empress of India on the one hand and

the ―native States‖ in India on the other. It read as follows:-

“The principles of International Law have no bearing
upon the relations between the Government of India as
representing the Queen Empress on the one hand, and
the native States under the suzerainty of her Majesty on
the other. The paramount supremacy of the former,
presupposes and implies the subordination of the latter.”

[emphasis is supplied]

43. On 21.01.1892, the order was passed by the British

Government of Madras directing that the consent of Madras

Government should be obtained before the new reservoir is
55

constructed within the Mysore State and in the event of

disagreement between the two Governments, the matter has to be

settled by arbitration.

44. In view of the above, the agreement was entered into between

the Madras Government and State of Mysore on 18.02.1892.

Clause 1 defines New Irrigation Reservoirs. Clause 3 defines Repair

of Irrigation Reservoirs. Clause 4 states that any increase of

capacity other than what falls under ―Repair of Irrigation

Reservoirs‖ as defined shall be regarded as a ―New Irrigation

Reservoir‖. Clauses 2, 3 and 5 are reproduced below:-

―II. The Mysore Government, shall not, without the
previous consent of the Madras Government, or before a
decision under rule 4 below, build (a) any ―New Irrigation
Reservoirs‖ across any part of the fifteen main rivers
named in the appended Schedule A; or across any stream
named in Schedule B below the point specified in
Column 5 of the said Schedule B, or in any drainage area
specified in the said Schedule B, or (b) any ―new anaicut‖
across the streams of Schedule A, Nos. 4 to 9 and 14 and
15, or across any of the streams of Schedule B, or across
the following streams of Schedule A, lower than the
points specified hereunder:

Across 1. Tungabhadra – lower than the road crossing
at Honhalli,
Across 10. Cauvery – lower than the Ramaswami anaicut,
and
56

Across 13. Kabani – lower than the Rampur anaicut.

III. When the Mysore Government desires to construct
any ―New Irrigation Reservoir‖ or any new anaicut the
previous consent of the Madras Government under the
last preceding rule, then full information regarding the
proposed work shall be forwarded to the Madras
Government and the consent of that Government shall be
obtained previous to the actual commencement of work.
The Madras Government shall be bound not to refuse
such consent except for the protection of prescriptive
right already acquired and actually existing, the
existence, extent and nature of such right and the mode
of exercising it being in every case determined in
accordance with the law on the subject of prescriptive
right to use of water and in accordance with what is fair
and reasonable under all the circumstances of each
individual case.

V. The consent of the Madras Government is given to new
irrigation reservoirs specified in the appended Schedule
C, with the exception of the Srinivasasagara new
reservoir across the Pennar, the Ramasamudram new
reservoir across the Chitravati and the Venkatesasagara
new reservoir across Papaghni. Should, owing to the
omission of the Mysore Government to make or maintain
these works in a reasonable adequate standard of safety,
irrigation works in Madras, themselves in a condition of
reasonably adequate safety, be damaged, the Mysore
government shall pay to the Madras government
reasonable compensation for such damage.

As regards the three new reservoirs excepted above the
admissibility of any compensation from Mysore to
Madras on account of loss accruing to Madras irrigation
works from diminution of supply of water caused by the
construction of the said works, will be referred to the
Government of India whose decision will be accepted as
57

final and should such compensation decided to be
admissible, the decision of the Government of India as to
the amount thereof will be accepted, after submission to
them of the claims of Madras which would be preferred in
full detail within a period of five years after the
completion of said works.‖

45. As stated in Clause 2, there are two Schedules, namely,

Schedule A and Schedule B which do not require any reference. We

may note here that on 18.02.1924, another agreement was entered.

The prefatory note to the said agreement contains reference to the

1892 agreement, Clause 2 refers to Clause 3 of the 1892 agreement

and certain disputes that had arisen between the two States and

the reference to arbitration and the award in the year 1914,

rectification of the award by the Government of India and the

decision in appeal with the Secretary of State for India who had

reopened the question. It is necessary to state what had been

mentioned in the said reopening of the question:-

―6. Whereas thereupon the Mysore Government and the
Madras Government with a view to an amicable
settlement of the dispute entered into negotiations with
each other; and

7. Whereas as the result of such negotiations, certain
Rules of Regulation of the Krishnarajasagara reservoir
were framed and agreed to by the Chief Engineers of the
Mysore and Madras Governments on the 26th day of July
58

of the year 1921, such Rules of Regulation forming
Annexure I to this agreement; and

8. Whereas, thereafter, the technical officers of the two
Governments have met in conference and examined the
question of extension of irrigation in their respective
territories with a view to reaching an amicable
arrangement; and

9. Whereas as the result of such examination and
conference by the technical officers of the two
Governments, certain points with respect to such
extension were agreed to respectively by the Chief
Engineer for Irrigation, Madras, and the Special Officer,
Krishnarajasagara Works, at Bangalore, on the 14th day
of September 1923, such points forming Annexure III to
this agreement.‖

46. In the said backdrop, the Mysore Government and the Madras

Government entered into the 1924 agreement. We think it

appropriate to reproduce the entire part of the said agreement as

that is the fulcrum of the stand of the State of Tamil Nadu:-

―(i) The Mysore Government shall be entitled .to
construct arid the Madras Government do hereby assent
under clause III of the 1892 agreement to the Mysore
Government constructing a dam and a reservoir across
and on the river Cauvery at Kannambadi, now known a6
the Krishnarajasagara, such dam and reservoir to be of a
storage capacity of not higher than 112 feet above the sill
of the under-sluices now in existence corresponding to
124 feet above bed of the river before construction of the
dam, and to be of the effective capacity of 44,827 million
cubic feet, measured from the 6ill of the irrigation sluices
constructed at 60 feet level above the bed of the river up
59

to the maximum height of 124 feet above the bed of the
river; the level of the bed of the river before the
construction of the reservoir being taken as 12 feet below
the sill level of the existing under-sluices; and such dam
and reservoir to be in all respects as described in
schedule forming Annexure II to this agreement.

(ii) The Mysore Government on their part hereby agree
to regulate the discharge through and from the said
reservoir strictly in accordance with the Rules of
Regulation set forth in the Annexure I, which Rules of
Regulation shall be and form part of this agreement.

(iii) The Mysore Government hereby agree to furnish to
the Madras Government within two years from the date
of the present agreement dimensioned plans of anicuts
and sluices or open heads at the off-takes of all existing
irrigation channels having their source in the rivers
Cauvery, Lakshmanathirtha and Hemavathi, showing
thereon in a distinctive colour all alterations that have
been made subsequent to the year 1910, and further to
furnish maps similarly showing the location of the areas
irrigated by the said channels prior to or in the year
1910.

(iv) The Mysore Government on their part shall be at
liberty to carry out future extensions of irrigation in
Mysore under the Cauvery and its tributaries to an
extent now fixed at 110,000 acres. This extent of new
irrigation of 110,000 acres shall be in addition to and
irrespective of the extent of irrigation permissible under
the Rules of Regulation forming Annexure I to this
agreement, viz, 1,26,000 acres plus the extension
permissible under each of the existing channels to the
extent of one-third of the area actually irrigated under
such channel in or prior to 1910.

(v) The Madras Government on their part agree to limit
the new area of irrigation under their Cauvery Metur
60

project to 301,000 acres, and the capacity of the new
reservoir at Metur, above the lowest irrigation sluice to
ninety-three thousand five hundred million cubic feet.

Provided that, should scouring sluices but
constructed in the dam at a lower level than the
irrigation sluice, the dates on which such scouring
sluices are opened shall be communicated to the Mysore
Government.

(vi) The Mysore Government and the Madras
Government agree, with reference to the provisions of
clauses (iv) and (v) preceding, that each Government
shall arrange to supply the other as soon after the close
of each official or calendar year, as may be convenient,
with returns of the areas newly brought under irrigation,
and with the average monthly discharges at the main
canal heads, as soon after the close of each month as
may be convenient.

(vii) The Mysore Government on their part agree that
extensions of irrigation in Mysore as specified in clause

(iv) above shall be carried out only by means of reservoirs
constructed on the Cauvery and its tributaries mentioned
in Schedule A of the 1892 agreement. Such reservoirs
may be of an effective capacity of 45,000 million cubic
feet, in the aggregate and the impounding therein shall
be so regulated as not to make any material diminution
in supplies connoted by the gauges accepted in the Rules
of Regulation for the Krishnarajasagra forming Annexure
I to this agreement, it being understood that the rules for
working such reservoirs shall be so framed as to reduce
to within 5 percent any loss during any impounding
period, by the adoption of suitable proportion factors,
impounding formula or such other means as may be
settled at the time.

(viii) The Mysore Government further agree that full
particulars and details of such reservoir schemes, and of
61

the impounding therein, shall be furnished to the Madras
Government to enable them to satisfy themselves that the
conditions in clause (vii) above will be fulfilled. Should
there arise any difference of opinion between the Madras
and Mysore Governments as to whether the said
conditions are fulfilled in regard to any such scheme or
schemes, both the Madras and Mysore Governments
agree that such difference shall be settled in the manner
provided in clause (xv) below.

(ix) The Mysore Government and the Madras Government
agree that the reserve storage for power generation
purposes now provided in the Kriahnaraja sagra may be
utilized by the Mysore Government according to their
convenience from any other reservoir hereafter to be
constructed, and the storage thus released from the
Krishnarajasagra may be utilized for new irrigation
within the extent of 110,000 acres provided for in
clause(iv) above.

(x) Should the Mysore government so decide to release
the reserve storage for power generation purposes from
the Krishnarajasagra, the working tables for the new
reservoir from which the power water will then be utilized
shall be framed “after taking into consideration the
conditions specified in clause (vii) above and the altered
conditions of irrigation under the Krishnarajasagara.

(xi) The Mysore Government and the Madras Government
further agree that the limitations and arrangements
embodied in clauses (iv) to (viii) supra shall at the expiry
of fifty years from the date of the execution of these
presents, be open to reconsideration in the light of the
experience gained and of an examination of the
possibilities of the further extension of irrigation within
the territories of the respective Governments and to such
modifications and additions as may be mutually agreed
upon as the result of such reconsideration.

62

(xii) The Madras Government and the Mysore
Government further agree that the limits of extension of
irrigation specified in clauses (iv) and (v) above shall not
preclude extensions of irrigation effected solely by
improvement of duty, without any increase of the
quantity of water used.

(xiii) Nothing herein agreed to or contained shall be
deemed to qualify or limit in any manner the operation of
the 1892 agreement in regard to matters other than
those to which this agreement relates or to affect the
rights of the Mysore Government to construct new
irrigation works on the tributaries o the Cauvery in
Mysore not included in Schedule A of the 1892
agreement

(xiv) The Madras Government shall be at liberty to
construct new irrigation works on the tributaries of the
Cauvery in Madras and, should the Madras Government
construct; on the Bhavani, Amaravati or Noyil rivers in
Madras, any new storage reservoir, the Mysore
Government shall be at liberty to construct, as an offset,
a storage reservoir in addition to those referred to in
clause (vii) of this agreement on one of the tributaries of
the Cauvery in Mysore, of a capacity not exceeding 60 per
cent of the new reservoir in Madras.

Provided that the impounding in such reservoirs shall not
diminish or affect in any way the supplies to which the
Madras Government and the Mysore Government
respectively are entitled under this agreement, or the
division of surplus water which, it is anticipated, will be
available for division on the termination of this
agreement as provided in clause (xi).

(xv) The Madras Government and the Mysore
Government hereby agree that, if at any time there
should arise any dispute between the Madras
Government and the Mysore Government touching the
63

interpretation or operation or carrying out of this
agreement, such dispute shall be referred for settlement
to arbitration, or if the parties so agree shall be
submitted to the Government of India.‖

47. As is noticeable, Clause 10(ii) provided that the Mysore

Government had agreed to regulate the discharge through and from

the concerned reservoir strictly in accordance with the Rules of

Regulation set forth in Annexure I, which Rules of Regulation shall

be and form part of that agreement. The relevant part of Annexure I

is reproduced below:-

―7. The minimum flow of the Cauvery that must be
ensured at the upper anicut before any impounding is
made in the Krishnarajasagara, as connoted by the
readings of the Cauvery dam north gauge, shall be as
follows:-

Month Readings of the
Cauvery Dam
North gauge.

June .. Six and a half feet.
July and August .. Seven and a half feet
September .. Seven feet.
October .. Six and a half feet.
November .. Six feet.
December .. Three and a half feet.
January .. Three feet.

8. The discharges connoted by the gauge readings set
forth in rule 7 shall, in the case of regulation during the
irrigation season (vide rule 9) of 1921, be deducted from
the average discharge curve derived from the joint
64

gaugings of the Cauvery at the Cauvery dam made in the
four years ending 1920. The said discharges shall be
revised, if necessary, after completion of the joint
gaugings of 1921 and shall be used for the purpose of
regulation for the five years ending 1926. The said
discharges shall be finally revised and adopted for all
subsequent regulation, at the conclusion of the joint
gauging of the year 1926, on the basis of the joint
gaugings of the ten years ending 1926.

9. The south-west monsoon shall, for the purpose of
these rules be considered to extend from the 1st June to
the 30th September, both days inclusive, and the north-
east monsoon from the1st October to the 31st January,
both days inclusive. The irrigation season shall be taken
to extend from the 1st June to the 31st January, both
days inclusive. All dates in this rule shall have reference
to the Upper Anicut.‖

48. Annexure III of the agreement pertains to the extent of

irrigation of Mysore and Madras. The relevant part is as follows:-

―2.The extent of future extension of irrigation in Mysore
under the Cauvery and its tributaries mentioned in
Schedule A of the 1892 agreement shall be fixed at
110,000 acres, and Madras shall have their Cauvery-
Mettur project as revised in 1921 with their new area of
irrigation fixed at 301,000 acres, …‖

49. It is worthy to note here that another agreement was entered

into between both the governments in the year 1929 to clarify

Rules 7 and 8 of the Rules of Regulation pertaining to the Krishna

Raja Sagara reservoir which is as follows:-

“AGREEMENT
65

WHEREAS on the 18th February 1924 an agreement
between the Governments of Mysore and Madras was
signed and whereas by clause 10(2) of the said agreement
the Mysore Government agreed to regulate the discharge
through and from the Krishnarajasagara reservoir strictly
in accordance with the Rules of Regulation being
Annexure I to the said agreement;

and

WHEREAS disputes had arisen between the two
Governments in regard to the interpretation, operation
and carrying out of rules 7 and 8 of the said Rules and
Regulation;

And

WHEREAS both the Governments have submitted the
matters in dispute to the Arbitration of the Honourable
Mr. Justice Page with Messrs. Howley and Forbes as
assessors.

Now the two Governments have agreed in lieu of an award
in that behalf to adopt finally for all Regulation
subsequent to 1st July 1929, the following discharges for
the respective months in place of the averages referred to
in clause 8 of Annexure I:-

June for 61/2 feet gauge             ..   29,800 cusecs.
July and August for 71/2 ft. gauge .. 40,100 "
September for 7 feet gauge .. 35,000 "
October for 6 1/2 feet gauge .. 29,800 "

November for 6 feet gauge .. 25,033 "
December for 31/2 feet gauge .. 8,913 "
January for 3 feet gauge .. 6,170 "

and in rule 10, defining the impounding formula, C will
denote the said above mentioned discharges.

66

THIS agreement is without prejudice to the other
questions outstanding between the parties in regard to
the clauses of the agreement other than clauses 7 and 8
of the Rules of Regulation.

17th June 1929.

      (Signed) R. RANGA RAO)        (Signed) A.G. LEACH,
Officiating Chief Secretary Secretary to the Government
to the Govt. of Mysore Public Works and Labor
Department, Madras."

50. In 1934, a new reservoir at Mettur which was constructed by

Madras became operational pursuant to Clause 10(v) of the

agreement of 1924 and the Madras Government had agreed to limit

―the new areas of irrigation under their Cauvery Mettur project

(Project Report of 1921) to 301,000 acres‖ and the capacity of ―the

new reservoir at Mettur‖ to 93.5 TMC. In the said order, the State

of Madras started planning of Nhawan reservoir under Clause 10

(xiv) of the agreement of 1924 and, as a result, Mysore became

entitled to construct a reservoir of 60% of the capacity planned by

Madras and, accordingly, Mysore proposed Kabini Reservoir as an

offset reservoir under Clause 10(xiv) of the said agreement. In this

regard, the finding of the Tribunal is as follows:-

―Regarding Kabini project, the objection of Madras was
that the proposal of Mysore for transfer of half of power
67

storage from Krishnarajasagar to Kabini was not
permissible although according to the State of Karnataka
it was permissible under Clasue 10(ix) of the agreement.
Apart from objection regarding the transfer of power
storage with regard to Kabini other objections had also
been raised. From the notes of discussion between the
then engineers of the two States on 11th and 12th March,
1940 (Tamil Nadu Vo,VII/Exh.445 page 148) it appears
that the two Chief Engineers of Madras and Mysroe
Governments finally agreed on the impounding in
reservoir to be built on Kabini during the critical months
from June to January, applying the Rule 10 of Rules of
Regulation of KRS (Annexure I to the Agreement). The
notes of discussions and agreements between the two
Chief Engineers were duly signed by them, and no further
action was taken by the State of Madras. Any agreement
between the two chief engineers was subject to the
approval of the State of Madras and the Government of
Mysore. Then by letter dated 21st May. 1945 the Secretary
to Maharaja of Mysore made a request to the Resident in
Mysore to obtain the concurrence of the Madras
Government. There was no reply from Madras
Government although the contents of the aforesaid letter
had been communicated to the Government of Madras.
No explanation was furnished as to why when the Chief
Engineers of two States had fixed and settled the
impounding formula in terms of the agreement of 1924.
for the reservoir on Kabini. the State of Madras was not
communicating its approval. Because of that the project
on Kabini as planned by Mysore in 1933 under clause
10(iv) of the agreement remained unimplemented."

51. In the year 1935, the British Parliament enacted the

Government of India Act, 1935 (for short, ―the 1935 Act‖). In the

year 1947, the Indian Independence Act, 1947 (for brevity, ―the

1947 Act‖) came into force. The Maharaja of Mysore had executed
68

an agreement ―Instrument of Accession‖ initially only on two

subjects, namely, defence and external affairs and communications

which was accepted by the Governor General of India on

16.08.1947. Thereafter, a White Paper was released on Indian

States and ―Standstill Agreement‖ was entered into between the

Dominion of India and the Maharaja of Mysore. A supplementary

―Instrument of Accession‖ was executed on 01.06.1949 for all

matters enumerated in List I and List II of the Seventh Schedule of

the 1935 Act which was contained in the said supplementary

agreement. After coming into force of the Constitution of India, the

1947 Act stood repealed by reason of the provisions contained in

Article 395 of the Constitution of India and the erstwhile province of

Madras under the 1935 Act became a Part A State of Madras with

effect from 26.01.1950. On 01.11.1956, the new State of Mysore

was formed by the States Reorganisation Act, 1956 (for short, ‗the

Reorganisation Act‖).

52. In August 1972, the State of Tamil Nadu filed a suit OS No. 1

of 1971 against the State of Mysore which was permitted to be

withdrawn with liberty to file a fresh suit if necessary. On

29.05.1972, the Chief Ministers of Mysore, Tamil Nadu and Kerala
69

discussed with the Union Minister for Irrigation and Deputy

Minister. The relevant part of the discussion reads as follows:-

"Note on discussions regarding Cauvery held at New
Delhi on 29th May, 1972"

"Discussions were held on 29th May, 1972 at New Delhi
between the Chief Ministers of Mysore, Tamil Nadu and
Kerala. Union Minister for Irrigation and Power and
Deputy Ministers were present. The Chief Ministers were
assisted by Ministers of respective States, those present
were as follows:

I. Tamil Nadu:

1. Thiru M. Karunanidhi, Chief Minister

2. Thiru S. Madhavan, Minister for Law

3. Thiru SJ. Sadiq Pasha, Minister for Public Works

II. Mysore:

1. Shri D. Devaraj Urs, Chief Minister

2. Shri M.N. Nanja Gouda, Minister for State for Major
Irrigation

III. Kerala:

1. Shri C. Achutha Menon, Chief Minister

2. Shri T.K. Divakaran, Minister for Public Works

Union Minister for Irrigation and Power stated that river
problems are best settled through negotiations and this
was the course the Central Government was adopting for
the last few years in settling the differ rences on the use®
of waters of Cauvery. Earlier, it was aimed to arrive at an
interim agreement to be valid till 1974. when the earlier
agreement of 1924 would have come up for review after
50 years, as provided in the agreement. Now, as 1974 is
near, this attempt has been given up in favour of finding
an overall approach to solve the problem amicably
70

amongst the several States. (Emphasis supplied) The
discussions amongst the Chief Ministers revealed general
consensus on the three following points as in para 2:

2.1 A serious attempt should be made to resolve by
negotiations the Cauvery dispute between eh States
as eariy as possible.

2.2. The Centre may appoint a Fact Finding
Committee consisting of Engineers, retired Judges
and if necessary, Agricultural Experts to collect all
the connected data pertaining to Cauvery waters, its
utilization and irrigation practices as well as
projects both existing, under construction and
proposed in the Cauvery basin. The Committee will
examine adequacy of the present supplies or
excessive use of water for irrigation purposes. The
Committee is only to collect the data and not make
any recommendations. The Committee may be
asked to submit its report in three months time.
2.3 Making use of the data, discussions will be held
between the Chief Ministers of the three States to
arrive at an agreed allocation of waters for the
respective States.

3. Union Government will assist in arriving at such
a settlement in six months, and in the meanwhile,
no State will take any steps to make the solution of
the problem difficult either by impounding or by
utilizing water of Cauvery beyond what it is at
present.‖

53. Pursuant to the above, the Cauvery Fact Finding Committee

(CFFC) was set up by the Government of India. The terms of the

reference to the CFFC were as follows:-

71

"(i) To collect all the connected data pertaining to Cauvery
waters; its utilization at different points of time: irrigation
practices; as well as projects both existing, under
construction, and proposed in the Cauvery basin.

(ii) To examine adequacy of the present supplies or
excessive use of water for irrigation purposes.

(iii) To collect data relevant to the use of water in
different States like the physical and other features;
cultivated areas; existing and proposed uses for domestic
and industrial water supply; hydro-electric power
generation, navigation, salinity control and other non-
irrigational purposes.

(iv) Any other connected matters."

54. The CFFC submitted a report on 15.12.1972. The relevant part

of the report is reproduced below:-

"As desired in the above resolution, we hereby submit our
report.

The data was received from Kerala on 21st September,
1972 from Mysore on 19th October, 1972 and Tamil Nadu
on 24th October, 1972. Both Mysore and Tamil Nadu
supplemented their data during their discussions with the
Committee at New Delhi from 7th to 14th November, 1972.
Some clarifications and elucidations had been asked for
from the States during the discussions and again during
the visit of the Committee to Mysore and Tamil Nadu from
6th to 8th December, 1972. The replies from the State
Governments have not yet been received. The data
supplied by the three States runs into 20 volumes. In
addition, they have left with the Committee project reports
for their study which also run into 36 volumes. As this
voluminous data requires very careful examination and
scrutiny, the Committee "had asked for further extension
72

of one month from 15th December, 1972 to 15th January,
1973. But the same has not been agreed to.

In view of the above, the Committee had no alternative
but to submit its report on 15th December, 1972, though
it has not been possible to do full justice to this important
work.

In accordance with the note on discussions regarding
Cauvery held at New Delhi on 29th May, 1972, between
the Union Minister for Irrigation and Power and the Chief
Ministers of Kerala, Mysore and Tamil Nadu {a copy of
which had been supplied to the Committee) "the
Committee is only to collect the data and not make any
recommendations". As such, the Committee has refrained
from making any recommendations.‖

55. On 14.08.1973, an additional report was submitted. In

October, 1973, the States of Mysore, Tamil Nadu and Kerala desired

the Government of India to make a study on the scope of economy

in the use of water and in pursuance of the same, the C.C. Patel

Committee was constituted. The Committee made various

recommendations and an estimate of irrigation water requirement

in each State. On 12.08.1976, a Committee with Mr. E.C. Saldhana,

Member, Central Water Commission, as Chairman was set up by

the Central Government with the following terms of reference:-

"(i) To assess the requirement of water of the existing
areas under irrigation as well as new areas which are
proposed to be brought under irrigation taking into
consideration the availability of water from the rainfall
within the respective command areas:

73

(ii) To assess the availability of water for use in a
normal year taking into consideration integrated
operation of the reservoirs and the demand pattern of
releases:

(iii) To recommend regulation of supplies in normal or
good years for protecting the existing ayacuts as well as
for the new areas, taking into consideration the savings
to be effected progressively in Tamil Nadu including
Karaikal region of Pondicherry and Karnataka.‖

56. In March 1977, a draft report was submitted to the

Government of India. As is manifest, discussions, deliberations and

negotiations went on between the two States and eventually, as

stated earlier, on 06.07.1986, the State of Tamil Nadu lodged a

complaint under the 1956 Act with the Government of India raising

water dispute thereby requesting for adjudication of the water

dispute by a tribunal.

57. We have already noted that the State of Karnataka had

brought out an ordinance and how the Court has dealt with the

same.

58. Having noted the aforesaid and observing what the

Constitution Bench had stated, we may proceed to deal with the

contentions canvassed on behalf of both the States with regard to

the validity of the agreements.

74

H. Doctrine of Paramountcy and its extinction on coming
into force of the Indian Independence Act, 1947

59. Mr. Nariman, learned senior counsel, has attacked both the

agreements on two counts, namely, (i) the Maharaja of Mysore was

not in a position to enter into an agreement on equal terms with the

Madras Government as the communications would show, and

further, (ii) the manner in which the agreements were reached, the

status conferred by the British Government and the Maharaja, the

orders passed by the British Government from time to time and

eventually, the order of the Secretary of State for India who upheld

the appeal of the British Government of Madras against the Griffin

Award clearly show the subservience of the Maharaja of Mysore to

the paramount power of the British Crown. He has drawn our

attention to a passage of the Griffin Award which is as under:-

"The Secretary of State holds that the Government
of Madras were within their rights in appealing to him,
firstly because the procedure prescribed in rule IV of the
agreement of1892 was varied in the Arbitration
Proceedings and, secondly, because, while the Agreement
of1892 was and is valid as between the Governments of
Madras and Mysore, this does not relieve him (i.e. the
Secretary of State) of his genera! responsibility for
intervening in any matter in which it seems to him that
the public interest is threatened with injury, even if the
possible injury would be consequent on action taken
75

under an award given, or purporting to be given, under
rule IV".

60. Relying on the same, it is propounded by Mr. Nariman that a

binding arbitration award between the Indian State and a Province

in British Government was not regarded as binding by the Secretary

of State and he could refuse to recognize it and from the said, the

Doctrine of Paramountcy is manifest and that alone should be

treated as sufficient to treat the agreements as absolutely unfair,

arbitrary and unreasonable. Learned senior counsel would contend

that when in such a situation the agreement had been entered into,

the same cannot be regarded as valid in law after India got

independence and should be declared as null and void under the

Constitution of India that came into force on 26th January, 1950. It

is urged by him that having regard to the regime of paramountcy

and taking note of the fact that the Crown had the paramount

power and exercised the same in favour of the Madras Government

ignoring whatever objection could be raised then by the Dewan of

Maharaja of Mysore, the agreement cannot be constituted as valid

and acceptable in law. The argument on the factual score by Mr.

Nariman has been seriously contested by Mr. Rakesh Dwivedi,

learned senior counsel appearing for the State of Tamil Nadu,
76

urging that the agreements were arrived at after several

correspondences and proper consideration. He has also drawn our

attention to the letter dated 12.02.1924 from the Dewan of Mysore

to the Secretary of the Maharaja. The said letter reads thus:-

―I have discussed the whole matter this morning with my
colleagues and they entirely approve of my
recommendations. I feel relieved and proud that after
four years of strenuous fight. I am able to put up for His
Highness approval a settlement which is eminently
satisfactory and favourable to Mysore and its future
generations.

PS. - Sir Visvesvaraya has gone away to Bhadravathi, so,
I cannot speak to him. I have already discussed all the
main points with him a week ago and he was fully
satisfied that we got all we could and had a very
satisfactory settlement."

61. Referring to the language employed in the said letter, it is

submitted by Mr. Nariman that the same does not really indicate

anything that can be considered as consent or acceptance but

instead reflects some kind of resignation. He has emphasized on

the words ―that we got all we could‖ to highlight that it is reflective

of compulsive surrender having no choice and accepting whatsoever

has been given in the absence of any option. He would further

submit that the agreement of 1924 only permitted the State of

Mysore to undertake irrigation in the Princely State on certain
77

terms. It was because of the unilateral imposition by the

paramount power.

62. In this context, it is also necessary to refer to what Mr.

Dwivedi, learned senior counsel, has drawn our attention to from

the letter of the Dewan of Mysore to the Maharaja of Mysore. The

said part reads as follows:-

―I am sending tonight with this letter a complete
comprehensive agreement embracing all the points of
dispute, bringing forward every clause as agreed to up to
date during the past 4years of discussion and signed by
the technical officers of the two Governments. It will be
seen that we have given a concession to Madras in regard
to the Bhavani Project and have got, in return, a quid pro
quo that we shall be entitled to have an additional
reservoir. The other points are already settled. The
whole case has caused me, during the past few days,
considerable anxiety and I honestly now think that with
the concession now obtained and with the finality in
regard to the krishnarajasagara, taken together with the
possibility of an additional development of 110,000 acres
during the next 50 years, Mysore interests are fully
safeguarded even though Mysore now agrees to the Metur
project slightly enlarged. We have made a very still fight
over this question, and as Madras have climbed their
other contentions and are prepared to sign the agreement
as now submitted, we may, with good grace, yield on this
one point so far as only the additional 1,500 m.c. ft. extra
storage is concerned, which is negligible and conclude
the dispute once for all.

I have discussed the whole matter this morning with
my colleagues and they entirely approve of my
78

recommendations. I feel relieved and proud that after
four years of strenuous fight, I am able to put up for His
Highness approval a settlement which is eminently
satisfactory and favourable to Mysore and its future
generations.‖

63. Elaborating the stand of paramountcy, this Court has been

apprised of certain factual aspects. In 1929, certain disputes arose

between the two Governments pertaining to the interpretation,

operation and carrying out of Rules 7 and 8 of the Rules of

Regulation of 1921 (Annexure to the Agreement of 1924) and under

Clause 10(ii), the matters in dispute were referred to arbitration of

Mr. Justice Page of the Calcutta High Court and during the

arbitration, both the Governments agreed to adopt the same as final

as regards the discharges at the upper Anicut and certain further

aspects. In 1934, a new reservoir at Mettur which was constructed

by Madras became operational pursuant to clause 10(v) of the

Agreement of 1924 and the Madras Government agreed to limit the

new areas of irrigation under the Cauvery-Mettur project to 301,000

acres and the capacity of the new reservoir at Mettur to 93.5 TMC.

It is the stand of the State of Karnataka that when the Mettur Dam

became operational with effect from 1934, the natural flow for

upper Anicut which was at a considerable distance below Mettur
79

could not be maintained at the stipulated six and a half to seven

and a half ft. equal to 29800 cusecs to 40100 cusecs since the

water of the upstream flowed into Mettur reservoir. Despite the

same, as urged by Mr. Nariman, clause 10(ii) of the Agreement of

1924 required strict observance of Rule 7 of the Rules of Regulation

and was not altered and it was so because of the paramount power

exercised by the authority and it did not desire the anomaly to be

corrected. Various other aspects have been stressed upon to

highlight that the State of Mysore had no authority to bargain and

it was compelled to succumb to the paramount exercise of power.

We are at present not referring to the specific reservoirs as that

shall be dealt with at a later stage.

64. The legal validity of the agreement of the year 1924 was

challenged before the Tribunal and it has addressed whether the

agreement has become constitutionally invalid. Adverting to the

same, the Tribunal has opined that when the 1924 Agreement was

entered into, the Government of India Act, 1919 was in force.

Section 30 of the said Act enabled the Governor General in Council

to make any contract for the purpose of that Act. The Government
80

of India Act, 1919 was repealed by the Government of India Act,

1935.

65. On behalf of the State of Tamil Nadu, reliance was placed on

Section 177 of the Government of India Act, 1935 to sustain the

contention that the 1924 Agreement continued to be in force and

when British paramountcy lapsed on 15th August, 1947, the

agreement did not lapse automatically due to the proviso to Section

7(1) of the Indian Independence Act, 1947. It is further put forth

that the agreement continued to be in force in the absence of

denouncement of those agreements by either party or by

superseding them by any fresh agreement. That apart, the State of

Mysore which was a Princely State at the time of its accession to the

Dominion of India executed both the ―Instruments of Accession‖

and the ―Standstill Agreement‖ under which the agreement

continued between the State of Madras and the then State of

Mysore. After the Constitution came into force, the liabilities and

obligations arising out of the said agreements under Articles 294-B

and 295(2) devolved on the two States and after the reorganization

of the States in November, 1956, the terms of the agreement made

earlier are to be treated as binding on the successor State or States
81

under Section 87(1) of the Reorganisation Act. The contention of the

State of Karnataka before the Tribunal was that the Agreement of

1924 is not covered by Section 177 of the Government of India Act,

1935 and as such, it lapsed after coming into force of the said Act.

66. The Tribunal referred to Section 177(1), noted the submissions

of the learned counsel for the parties and held thus:-

―7. On a plain reading of Section 177(1) of the
Government of India Act 1935 aforesaid it is apparent
that it conceived contract to be made by or on behalf of
the Secretary of State in Council. On the facts furnished
on behalf of the State of Karnataka itself it appears that
the Agreement which had been initially signed by the
Dewan of Mysore and Secretary to the Government of 88
Madras on 18th February 1924 was also signed by the
Maharaja of Mysore as well as the Governor of Madras. It
was also approved by the Secretary of State and that
approval was communicated by telegram dated 18th
June 1924. Thereafter, the Government of India approved
and confirmed the said agreement on 11th July 1924
which is apparent from the note made on the photo copy
of the agreement by the Political Secretary. In this
background, it shall be deemed that the said agreement
had been executed on behalf of the Secretary of State in
Council. Merely because in the agreement it had not been
mentioned that it was being executed on behalf of the
Secretary of State in Council, shall not make the
agreement invalid. It is well known that in such matters
a presumption has to be raised that official acts have
been performed by complying with the requirement of the
law. According to us after lapse of about 80 years from
the date of the execution of the agreement it shall be a
futile attempt to examine the legal validity of the
execution of the agreement of the year 1924 which had
82

been acted upon by the then State of Madras and the
Government of Mysore in respect of sharing of the water
of Cauvery and its tributaries including in respect of
construction of reservoirs over Cauvery and its
tributaries by two States. Pursuant to that agreement
KRS was constructed and became functional in the year
1931 within Mysore and Mettur was constructed by
Madras which became functional in the year 1934. The
reservoirs on tributaries within the States of
Mysore/Karnataka and Madras/Tamil Nadu have also
been constructed and they are functioning. No dispute
was raised at any stage on behalf of the Mysore or
Karnataka till 89 the expiry of the period of 50 years in
1974, in respect of any defect in the execution of the
agreement of the year 1924 or that it was not binding on
Mysore/Karnataka.‖

67. The submission was structured on the basis of the 1947 Act

and the judgment rendered in Dr. Babu Ram Saksena v. State3.

The Tribunal analyzed the said decision and the views of Patanjali

Sastri, J. who delivered his opinion on behalf of M.H. Kania, CJ and

himself and the opinion rendered by B.K. Mukherjee, J. Be it

noted, Fazal Ali, J. agreed with both Sastri, J and Mukherjee, J.

and opined that the appeal deserved to be dismissed. Mahajan, J.

concurred with Mukherjee, J. After noting the facts, the Tribunal

observed thus:-

―16. It appears that three remaining Hon‘ble Judges Fazl
Ali, J, Mahajan,J, and Das,J, agreed with the opinion

3 1950 SCR 573 : AIR 1950 SC 155
83

aforesaid expressed by Hon‘ble Justice Mukherjea. The
majority of the Judges in the aforesaid Supreme Court
case dismissed the appeal taking special facts and
circumstances of that particular case, i.e. the merger of
the Tonk State along with several other States and giving
rise to the United State of Rajasthan. In the process of
merger Tonk had lost its identity and had relinquished its
life. As such a treaty previously concluded had lapsed.‖

68. After so stating, the Tribunal distinguished the said decision

as the factual matrix is different. It has been held by the Tribunal

that the State of Mysore was a ruling State and after accession, it

became a Group B State under the Constitution of India and at no

stage, there has been any merger of the said State with any other

State by which the Ruling State of Mysore stood extinguished or

relinquished as in the case of State of Tonk which was the subject

matter of controversy in Dr. Babu Ram Saksena (supra).

Thereafter, the Tribunal has held:-

―According to us the aforesaid judgment of the Supreme
Court is of no help to the State of Karnataka. No other
decision or provision was brought to our notice in
support of the contention that the Agreement of the year
1924 ceased to exist after the Indian Independence Act
1947 came into force. The result will be that it shall be
deemed that the said Agreement of 1924 survived and
continued even after the coming into force of the Indian
Independence Act 1947 and the Constitution of India.‖
84

69. Mr. Nariman, learned senior counsel, has assiduously and

astutely canvassed about the doctrine of paramountcy. For the

said purpose, he has drawn our attention to Section 7 of the 1947

Act. The said provision reads as follows:-

―7.(1) As from the appointed day(a) His Majesty's
Government in the United Kingdom have no
responsibility as respects the government of any of the
territories which, immediately before that day, were
included in British India;

(b) the suzerainty of His Majesty over the Indian States
lapses, and with it, all treaties and agreements in force at
the date of the passing of this Act between His Majesty
and the rulers of Indian States, all functions exercisable
by His Majesty at that date with respect to Indian States,
all obligations of His Majesty existing at that date
towards Indian States or the rulers thereof, and all
powers, rights, authority or jurisdiction exercisable by
His Majesty at that date in or in relation to Indian States
by treaty, grant, usage, sufferance or otherwise; and

(c) there lapse also any treaties or agreements in force at
the date of the passing of this Act between His Majesty
and any persons having authority in the tribal areas, any
obligations of His Majesty existing at that date to any
such persons or with respect to the tribal areas, and all
powers, rights, authority or jurisdiction exercisable at
that date by His Majesty in or in relation to the tribal
areas by treaty, grant, usage, sufferance or otherwise:

Provided that, notwithstanding anything in paragraph (b)
or paragraph (c) of this subsection, effect shall, as nearly
as may be, continue to be given to the provisions of any
85

such agreement as is therein referred to which relate to
customs, transit and communications, -posts and
telegraphs, or other like matters, until the provisions in
question are denounced by the Ruler of the Indian State
or person having authority in the tribal areas on the one
hand, or by the Dominion or Province or other part
thereof concerned on the other hand, or are superseded
by subsequent agreements.

(2) The assent of the Parliament of the United Kingdom is
hereby given to the omission from the Royal Style and
Titles of the words " Indiae Imperator " and the words "
Emperor of India " and to the issue by His Majesty for
that purpose of His Royal Proclamation under the Great
Seal of the Realm.‖

70. According to Mr. Nariman, after coming into force of the said

provision, the agreements lapsed and the finding of the Tribunal

that they continued because of the ―Standstill Agreement‖ or the

constitutional provisions as enshrined under Article 295(2) is

absolutely erroneous. In this context, we may refer to the ―Standstill

Agreement‖ which is a part of the White Paper on Indian State

issued by the Government of India, Ministry of States. In part 4 of

the said White Paper, accession of the States to the Dominion of

India is mentioned and it refers to the lapse of paramountcy.

Paragraph 82 deals with ―Standstill Agreement‖. It reads as

follows:-

86

―Standstill Agreements, the acceptance of which was
made by the Government of India conditional on
accession by the States concerned were also entered into
between the Dominion Government and the acceding
States. The Standstill Agreements (Appendix IX),
provided for the continuance for the time being of all
subsisting agreements and administrative arrangements
in matters of common concern between the States and
the Dominion of India or any part thereof.‖

71. It is submitted by Mr. Nariman that the ―Standstill Agreement‖

dated 09.08.1947 which was actually executed by the Maharaja of

Mysore stipulated that nothing in the said agreement could include

the exercise of any paramountcy function and, therefore, the

―Standstill Agreement‖ will not cover the State of Mysore. Learned

senior counsel would contend that with the coming into force of the

Constitution of India on 26.01.1950, the 1947 Act passed by the

Parliament stood repealed by reason of the provision of Article 395

of the Constitution and Mysore became a Part B State under the

Constitution and the erstwhile province of Madras became a Part A

State. According to him, even if the ―Standstill Agreement‖ executed

between the Maharaja of Mysore and the Dominion of India was

operative and existing, it came to an end. According to him, the

1947 Act did not survive beyond the final accession of the State of

Mysore to the Union of India and ―Standstill Agreement‖ entered
87

into by the Government of India with various Indian States

including the provincial State of Mysore were purely temporary

arrangements designed to maintain status quo in respect of

administrative matters. He has seriously criticized the finding of the

Tribunal and contended that the Tribunal has failed to take proper

note of the decision in Dr. Babu Ram Saksena (supra). He has

commended us to certain passages to bolster the argument:-

―The Attorney-General appearing for the Government
advanced three lines of argument in answer to that
contention. In the first place, the standstill agreement
entered into with the various Indian States were purely
temporary arrangements designed to maintain the
status quo ante in respect of certain administrative
matters of common concern pending the accession of
those States to the Dominion of India, and they were
superseded by the Instruments of Accession executed
by the Rulers of those States. Tonk having acceded to
the Dominion on the 16th August, 1947, the standstill
agreement relied on by the appellant must be taken to
have lapsed as from that date. …..

As we are clearly of opinion that the appellant's
contention must fail on this last ground, we consider it
unnecessary to pronounce on the other points raised by
the Attorney General especially as the issues involved
are not purely legal but partake also of a political
character, and we have not had the views of the
Governments concerned on those points.‖

72. We have already referred to the decision in Dr. Babu Ram

Saksena (supra) and how the Tribunal has dealt with the same.
88

The emphasis of Mr. Nariman is on the words ―partake also of a

political character‖. Stress is laid that when an agreement partakes

a political character, the doctrine of paramountcy clause melts into

insignificance by virtue of Section 7 of the 1947 Act. In this regard,

he has placed reliance on Hemchand Devchand v. Azam Sakarlal

Chhotamlal4. The effort of the learned senior counsel is to draw a

distinction between categories of political cases and those which fall

in the other categories. The relied upon passages from the said

judgment read as follows:-

―The real question is whether in cases like those now
before their Lordships the action of the tribunals in
Kathiawar, and of the Governor in Council on appeal from
those tribunals, is properly to be regarded as judicial or
as political. And at this point a distinction arises between
the two cases under appeal; because the first of them has
been disposed of as a civil, the second as a political, case.

x x x x x
The further appeal to the Secretary of State in Council is a
fact of clearer import. In Lord Salisbury's Despatch of the
March 23, 1876, the practice of such appeals is dealt with
as a thing at that date already fully established, and it
continues to the present day in civil as well as in political
cases. This system of appeal to the Secretary of State
affords strong evidence that the intention of Government
is and always has been that the jurisdiction exercised in
connection with Kathiawar should be political and not
judicial in its character.‖

4 (1905) 33 IA 1 : (1906) ILR 33 Cal 219
89

And again:-

―Such cases can only be justly disposed of on principle of
equity in the fullest sense of the term, and not in the
circumscribed sense, which is familiar to the practice of
the High Courts; and sometimes consideration must be
given to the political expediency which underlies the
relation in which the Government stands to the protected
States.''

73. Placing reliance on the said passages, it is urged by him that

when the Secretary of State was dealing with such a case, the said

case was regarded as ―political‖ and not ―judicial‖ in character as

was later authoritatively stated in the letter of the Viceroy of India –

that is, Lord Reading‘s letter dated 27.03.1926 to the Nizam of

Hyderabad – which set out the doctrine of paramountcy in classical

terms. Elaborating further, it was contended by him that the

appeal preferred by the Government of Madras against the Griffin

Award which was in favour of the Maharaja of Mysore was allowed

and the Maharaja of Mysore was described as the head of a ―Vassal

State‖, and hence, he was not in a position to negotiate or bargain

with the paramount power on equal terms and was compelled to go

for amicable settlement on compulsion. In this regard, inspiration

has been drawn from the decision in H.H. Maharajadhiraja

Madhav Rao Jivaji Rao Scindia Bahadur of Gwalior and others
90

v. Union of India and another5. Shah, J., speaking for the

majority, observed:-

―100. In the era before 1947 the term ―State‖ applied to
a political community occupying a territory in India of
defined boundaries and subject to a single Ruler who
enjoyed or exercised, as belonging to him, any of the
functions and attributes of internal sovereignty duly
recognised by the British Crown. There were in India
more than 560 States: forty out of those States had
treaty relations with the Paramount Power: a larger
number of States had some form of engagements or
Sanads, and the remaining enjoyed in one or the other
form recognition of their status by the British Crown.
The treaties, engagements and Sanads covered a wide
field, and the rights and obligations of the States arising
out of those agreements varied from State to State. The
rights that the British Crown as the Paramount Power
exercised in relation to the States covered authority in
matters external as well as internal. The States had no
international personality, the Paramount Power had
exclusive authority to make peace or war, or to
negotiate or communicate with foreign States. The
Paramount Power had the right of intervention in
internal affairs which could be exercised for the benefit
of the head of the State, of India as a whole, or for giving
effect to international commitments.‖

74. Further, the Court referred to the Cabinet Mission which

announced its Plan on May 16, 1946 for the entry of the States into

the proposed Union of India and simultaneously declared that the

paramountcy of the British Crown could neither be retained nor

5 (1971) 1 SCC 85
91

transferred to the new Government. The Court also took note of the

Indian (Provisional Constitution) Order, 1947 which extensively

amended Sections 5 and 6 of the Government of India Act, 1935.

The Court dwelt upon the inheritance of the paramountcy power of

the British Crown and, in that context, held:-

―131. We are unable to agree with the Attorney-General
that the ―old unidentified concept of paramountcy of the
British Crown‖ was inherited by the Union, by reason of
the instruments of accession and merger agreements and
that ―recognition of Rulership was a ‗gift of the President‘,
and not a matter of legal right, existing as it did in the
area of paramountcy and remaining with the Government
of India‖. The British Crown did not acquire paramountcy
rights by any express grant, cession or transfer, it
exercised paramountcy because it was the dominant
power. Paramountcy had no legal origin, and no fixed
concept: its dimensions depended upon what in a given
situation the representatives of the British Crown
thought expedient. Paramountcy meant those powers
which the British authorities by the might of arms, and
in disregard of the sovereignty and authority of the States
chose to exercise. But that paramountcy lapsed with the
Indian Independence Act, 1947: even its shadows
disappeared with the integration of the States with the
Indian Union. After the withdrawal of the British power
and extinction of paramountcy of the British power the
Dominion Government of India did not and could not
exercise any paramountcy over the States. In clause 3 of
the Standstill Agreement it was expressly recited that....
Nothing in the agreement includes the exercise of any
paramountcy functions‖. The relations between the
States and the Dominion Government were strictly
governed by the instruments executed from time to time.
Subject to the power conferred in respect of certain
92

matters of common interest to legislate and exercise
executive authority the Princes had sovereignty within
their territories. With the advent of the Constitution the
States ceased to exist, and the Princes and Chiefs who
were recognized as Rulers were left with no sovereign
authority in them. It is difficult to conceive of the
government of a democratic Republic exercising against
its citizens ―paramountcy‖ claimed to be inherited from
an imperial power. The power and authority which the
Union may exercise against its citizens and even aliens
spring from and are strictly circumscribed by the
Constitution.

132. The fundamentals on which paramountcy rested i.e.
the compulsion of geography and the essentials for
ensuring security and special responsibility of the
Government of India to protect all territories in India
survived the enactment of the Indian Independence Act,
for between August 15, 1947 and the date of integration
of the various States, the Government of India was the
only fully sovereign authority. But paramountcy with its
brazen-faced autocracy no longer survived the enactment
of the Constitution. Under our Constitution an action not
authorised by law against the citizens of the Union
cannot be supported under the shelter of paramountcy.
The functions of the President of India stem from the
Constitution — not from a ―concept of the British Crown‖
identified or unidentified. What the Constitution does not
authorise, the President cannot grant. Rulership is
therefore not a privilege which the President may in the
exercise of his discretion bestow or withhold.‖

75. Relying upon the said authority, it is canvassed by

Mr. Nariman that the agreements of 1892 and 1924 were relatable

to paramountcy functions and, therefore, the ―Standstill Agreement‖

of Mysore could not be held to have continued the said two
93

agreements since they are relatable to paramountcy and, in fact,

after the lapse of suzerainty of the British Crown under the 1947

Act, both the agreements are bound to be treated to have been

lapsed. In this context, he has drawn inspiration from certain

passages of the book ―Integration of Indian States‖ by Mr. V.P.

Menon who has commented on the provisions of Section 7 of the

1947 Act. The comments of the learned author in this regard are as

follows:-

"The next question was whether, even if paramountcy
lapsed, all agreements of a commercial, economic or
financial character between the States on die one hand
and the British Government, the Secretary of State, and
the Governor-General on the other, would cease to be
legally effective. I pointed out that there were several
important agreements which had been entered into for
the common benefit of the States and British India
where paramountcy did not enter, such as the
agreement of 1920 with Bahawaipur and Bikaner
regarding the Sutlej Valley canals project, and the
Government of India agreement on salt with Jaipur and
Jodhpur. The mutual rights and obligations- of parties
under such agreements could not be regarded as lapsing
on the withdrawal of paramountcy. On the
commencement of the Government of India Act of 1935,
the Crown's rights and obligations had become for all
practical and constitutional purposes the rights and
obligations of the Central Government and were secured
as such by the provisions of the Act. The financial
commitments of the Central Government under
agreements of this type were considerable. I therefore
took the view that it would be best that these
94

agreements should continue to be binding both on the
States and on the successor Governments.

Sir Conrad Corfield. on behalf of the Political
Department contested my point of view. He referred to a
meeting between himself and Lord Pethick-Lawrence at
which it had been agreed that the abolition of the Crown
Representative would automatically cause paramountcy
to become void, together with any subsisting agreements
between the Crown and the States. Sir Conrad did not
agree with the view that paramountcy did not enter into
the Sutiej Valley Canals Agreement of 1920 and the
Jaipur and Jodhpur Salt Agreements. The first of these
had been entered into on behalf of Bahawaipur by a
Council of Regency controlled by the paramount power
while the ruler was a minor. The Jaipur and Jodhpur
Salt Agreements wee typical of those which States had
been required to conclude with the paramount power
during the latter half of the nineteenth century in the
interests of the central revenues. The Political Adviser
was unable to entertain the view that the agreements
should be continued after the lapse of paramountcy.
Lord Mountbatten did not take sides in this conflict of
opinion. He merely forwarded both my view as well as
that of the Political Department to the India Office.
It was about this time that the Secretary of State
intimated that the Indian Independence Bill should
include a specific denunciation of the treaties with the
Indian States. Normally speaking, treaties were
terminated by ‗acts of State', but there was no reason
why, on an occasion of this importance and in the
peculiar circumstances, this should not be done by an
Act of Parliament which would emphasize the legal
position whereby paramountcy did not pass to the new
Indian Dominions. This was considered by the Viceroy's
advisers; they deprecated any such formal denunciation
of treaties.

95

Meanwhile the Secretary of State's opinion in regard to
the continuance of existing agreements was received. He
stated that His Majesty's Government fully appreciated
the importance attached by the Reforms Commissioner
to the avoidance if possible of complete severance of
relations with the States and the necessity for
negotiations between parties over the whole field. But he
considered that the views of the Political Department
must prevail, as they were in line with His Majesty's
Government's policy as stated in the Cabinet Mission
memorandum. It was impossible to distinguish between
agreements freely negotiated and those imposed. In any
case, all had been made under the authority of the
Crown and not of the executive Governments - central or
provincial - of British India...."

[Emphasis supplied]

76. He has also drawn strength from the other Water Disputes

Tribunals, namely, Narmada, Krishna and Godavari. His principal

emphasis is on the fact that the agreements entered into between

the two States were for political considerations as the State of

Mysore was a princely State under the British suzerainty and the

State of Madras was a province of British India and the disputes

were never settled by application of international law but through

authoritative decision of the British Crown. In essence, the

submission is that after coming into force of the 1947 Act, the

agreements became extinct by operation of law.
96

77. In this regard, we may usefully refer to the authority in State

of Tamil Nadu v. State of Kerala and another6 which was

dealing with the water level of Mullaperiyar Dam after it was solved

by this Court on 27.02.2006 in Mullaperiyar Environmental

Protection Forum v. Union of India and others7. The controversy

had arisen because the Kerala State legislature had enacted the law

immediately thereafter fixing and limiting full reservoir level to 136

ft. The Constitution Bench referred to the Periyar Lake Lease

Agreement dated 29.10.1886 which allowed the masonry dam to

come up across Periyar reservoir. The agreement stipulated many

aspects. In 1979, the Government of Kerala had entered into a

correspondence with the Tamil Nadu Government to take immediate

steps to strengthen the dam keeping in view the safety of the

Mullaperiyar Dam. Simultaneously, the Kerala Government also

requested the Central Government to depute a team from the

Central Water Commission (CWC) to inspect the Dam and suggest

strengthening measures. In pursuance of the request from the

Kerala Government, the CWC held meeting and three level

measures, (i) emergency, (ii) medium, and (iii) long term were
6 (2014) 12 SCC 696
7 (2006) 3 SCC 643
97

suggested to strengthen the Dam. In the meantime, it was

recommended that the water level in the reservoir be kept at 136 ft.

In the second meeting held on 29.04.1980, it was opined that after

the completion of emergency and medium-term strengthening

measures, the water level in the reservoir can be restored up to 145

ft. In the year 1998, the State of Tamil Nadu had a grievance that

despite the measures being suggested by CWC, no consensus could

be reached between the State Governments, that is, Tamil Nadu

and Kerala, to raise the water level in the Mullaperiyar Reservoir

beyond 136 ft. Various writ petitions were filed in both the High

Courts and, eventually, the matters stood transferred to this Court

and some directions were issued in Mullaperiyar Environmental

Protection Forum (supra). The Expert Committee, after discussion,

opined that the water level in the Mullaperiyar Reservoir could be

raised to 142 ft as that would not endanger the safety of the main

Dam, including spillway, Baby Dam and earthen bund. The

Constitution Bench referred to the first litigation before this Court,

the Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation Act, 2003, the Kerala

Irrigation and Water Conservation (Amendment) Act, 2006, the

second litigation before this Court, grounds of challenge to the 2006
98

(Amendment) Act and the defence put forth by the State of Kerala.

Certain issues were framed by the Court out of which four

questions being relevant for the present purpose are reproduced

below:-

―4. (b) Whether the pleas relating to validity and binding
nature of the deed dated 29-10-1886, the nature of
Periyar River, structural safety of the Mullaperiyar Dam,
etc. raised by the first defendant in its defence, are
finally decided by the judgment of this Court dated 27-2-
2006 in Mullaperiyar Environmental Protection Forum v.
Union of India and consequently first defendant is barred
from raising or reagitating those issues and pleas in this
suit, by the principle of res judicata and constructive res
judicata?

5. Whether the suit based on a legal right claimed under
the lease deed executed between the Government of the
Maharaja of Travancore and the Secretary of State for
India on 29-10-1886, is barred by the proviso to Article
131 of the Constitution of India?

6. Whether the first defendant is estopped from raising
the plea that the deed dated 29-10-1886 has lapsed, in
view of subsequent conduct of the first defendant and
execution of the supplemental agreements dated
29-5-1970 ratifying the various provisions of the original
deed dated 29-10-1886?

7. Whether the lease deed executed between the
Government of the Maharaja of Travancore and
Secretary of State for India on 29-10-1886 is valid,
binding on first defendant and enforceable by plaintiff
against the first defendant?‖
99

78. Be it noted, initially, the matter was heard by a three-Judge

Bench and later on, it was referred to the Constitution Bench as

some of the issues framed in the suit involved decision on certain

substantial questions of law concerning interpretation of the

Constitution. Dealing with the issues on the 1886 lease agreement,

the Court posed the question – whether it is an existing contract

under the 1935 Act. Reference was made to Section 177 of the

1935 Act and interpreting the same, the Court held:-

―41. Section 177 of the 1935 Act, omitting the
unnecessary part reads,

―177. (1) … any contract made before the
commencement of Part III of this Act by, or on
behalf of, the Secretary of State-in-Council shall, as
from that date—

(a) if it was made for the purposes which will after
the commencement of Part III of this Act be
purposes of the Government of a Province, have
effect as if it had been made on behalf of that
Province….‖

By virtue of this provision, the existing contracts of the
Secretary of State-in-Council would have the effect as if
they had been made on behalf of the Province. When we
see the 1886 Lease Agreement in the light of Section
177 of the 1935 Act, there remains no doubt at all that
lease that was executed by the Secretary of State-in-
Council for the Presidency of Madras (Madras Province)
100

had the effect as if it had been made on behalf of the
Presidency of Madras or for that matter Madras
Province. To put it differently, by legal fiction created
under Section 177(1)(a), the Presidency of Madras
(Madras Province) became lessee under the 1886 Lease
Agreement. We have, therefore, no hesitation in
accepting the submission of Mr Vinod Bobde, learned
Senior Counsel for Tamil Nadu that by virtue of Section
177 of the 1935 Act, as from the commencement of the
1935 Act, the Government of the Province of Madras is
deemed to be substituted as the lessee in the 1886
Lease Agreement.‖

79. Thereafter, the Court addressed the issue of the effect and

impact of the events between 18.07.1947 and 26.01.1950 which

relate to the 1947 Act and the Constitution of India. The Court

referred to the ―Standstill Agreement‖ which was entered into

between the State of Travancore and the Dominion of India, the

omission of Section 177 of the 1935 Act and the merger of two

States – Travancore and Cochin. Analysing further, the Court

referred to Section 7 of the 1947 Act and observed thus:-

―45. As noted above, the 1947 Act came into effect from
15-8-1947. Section 7 deals with the consequences of
the setting up of the new dominions. Clause (b) of sub-
section (1) of Section 7 declares that suzerainty of His
Majesty over the Indian States lapses. On lapsing of
suzerainty, it provides for lapsing of all treaties and
agreements in force between His Majesty and the Rulers
of Indian States from that date. The proviso appended
to sub-section (1), however, continues such agreements
unless the provisions in such agreement are denounced
101

by the Ruler of the Indian State or are superseded by a
subsequent agreement.

46. It is the contention of Mr Harish N. Salve that
firstly, 1886 Lease Agreement lapsed by virtue of main
provision of Section 7(1)(b) of the 1947 Act as it
comprehends all treaties and agreements and secondly,
the Maharaja of Travancore denounced all agreements
including the 1886 Lease Agreement.

47. It is true that Section 7(1)(b) of the 1947 Act uses
the expression ―all treaties and agreements‖ but, in our
opinion, the word ―all‖ is not intended to cover the
agreements which are not political in nature. This is
clear from the purpose of Section 7 as it deals with
lapsing of suzerainty of His Majesty over the Indian
States and the consequence of lapsing of suzerainty.

Obviously, the provision was not intended to cover the
agreements and treaties other than political. We,
accordingly, hold that Section 7(1)(b) concerns only with
political treaties and agreements.‖

And again:-

―53. It is argued by Mr Harish N. Salve that the Standstill
Agreement, which is between parties different from those
who had executed the 1886 Lease Agreement, is a fresh
agreement which brought into force, for the time being,
contractual obligations between the Maharaja of
Travancore and the Dominion of India. As the parties
were different and the 1947 Act provided for the lapse of
the British suzerainty over the Princely States, the
question of continuance of the 1886 Lease Agreement
does not arise. In any case, the learned Senior Counsel
for Kerala argues that the Standstill Agreement could not
survive after the deletion of Section 177 of the 1935 Act.

We find no merit in these arguments. The Standstill
Agreement is not a fresh agreement between the
102

Dominion of India and the State of Travancore as
suggested by Mr Harish N. Salve. The Standstill
Agreement was intended for the benefit of the parties who
were parties to the agreements and arrangements, which
were matters of common concern existing between the
Crown and the State of Travancore. In the background of
Instrument of Accession, it became necessary to have
some arrangement so that the existing agreements and
arrangements between the Crown and the Indian States
continued. We do not think that the Standstill Agreement
is political in nature as contended on behalf of Kerala.

54. The argument that the Standstill Agreement could
not survive after the deletion of Section 177 with effect
from 15-8-1947 by virtue of India (Provisional
Constitution) Order, 1947 is also without substance.
Section 177 was deleted because it could no longer work
and because the Dominion of India was to come into
being with provinces as part of the Dominion and there
was to be no Secretary of State-in-Council. We are in
agreement with Mr Vinod Bobde, learned Senior Counsel
for Tamil Nadu that deletion of Section 177 was
prospective and it did not affect the deeming that had
already taken place in 1935. The Standstill Agreement, in
our view, cannot be said to have been wiped out by the
deletion of Section 177.

x x x x x

56. The argument that there is no successor of Crown is
irrelevant because by virtue of Section 177, the
Government of Province of Madras had already become
lessee in the 1886 Lease Agreement by deeming in 1935
itself. The Standstill Agreement continued the 1886 Lease
Agreement between the Province of Madras and the State
of Travancore. The 1886 Lease Agreement did not lapse
under the main provision of Section 7(1)(b) of the 1947
Act. There was no unequivocal and unambiguous
103

denouncement of the 1886 Lease Agreement by the Ruler
of Travancore under proviso to Section 7(1)(b). The
Province of Madras was beneficiary of the Standstill
Agreement. Surely, deletion of Section 177 has not
affected the rights of Province of Madras.‖

80. The Court analysed the opinions of the learned Judges

expressed in Dr. Babu Ram Saksena (supra) and eventually held

thus:-

―61.5. A careful consideration of the judgment by
Mukherjea, J. in Ram Babu Saksena would show that
His Lordship‘s opinion has no application to a non-
political agreement such as the 1886 Lease Agreement.
The observation of Mukherjea, J., ―When as a result of
amalgamation or merger, a State loses its full
independent power of action over the subject-matter of a
treaty previously concluded, the treaty must necessarily
lapse. …‖ is in the context of an extradition treaty which
is purely political in nature. In our view, Ram Babu
Saksena is clearly distinguishable and does not help
Kerala in its argument that the 1886 Lease Agreement
lapsed on merger of the two States, Travancore and
Cochin, into the United State of Travancore and Cochin.‖

81. The Constitution Bench also addressed the issue whether the

1886 lease agreement was an Act of State and opined that the 1886

lease agreement is not political in nature. It distinguished the

Constitution Bench decision in Virendra Singh and others v.

State of U.P.8 and ruled that the said decision is distinguishable

8 (1955) 1 SCR 415 : AIR 1954 SC 447
104

and that the 1886 lease agreement is an ordinary agreement and

not political in nature. It is worthy to note that the Constitution

Bench addressed the scope of Article 363 and Article 131, scanned

both the Articles and held:-

―73. Article 131 of the Constitution deals with the
original jurisdiction of this Court. Subject to the
provisions of the Constitution, this Court has original
jurisdiction in any dispute, inter alia, between the
Government of India and any State or States on one side
and one or more other States on the other if and insofar
as the dispute involves any question (whether of law or
fact) on which the existence of legal right depends.
However, by the proviso appended thereto, the
jurisdiction of this Court is barred if the dispute to
which a State specified in Part B of the First Schedule is
a party if the dispute arises out of any provision of a
treaty, agreement, covenant, engagement, sanad or other
similar instrument was entered into or executed before
the commencement of the Constitution and has or has
been continued in operation after such commencement.

74. There is similarity of provision in Article 363 and
proviso to Article 131. The original jurisdiction conferred
on this Court by the main provision contained in Article
131 is excepted by virtue of the proviso in the matters of
political settlements. By making provisions such as
Article 363 and proviso to Article 131, the political
settlements have been taken out of the purview of
judicial pronouncements. Proviso appended to Article
131 renders a dispute arising out of any treaty,
agreement, covenant, engagement, sanad or similar
instrument which is political in nature executed before
the commencement of the Constitution and which has or
has been continued in operation, non-justiciable and
105

jurisdiction of this Court is barred. The jurisdiction of
this Court is not taken away in respect of the dispute
arising out of an ordinary agreement. The instruments
referred to and described in the proviso are only those
which are political in nature. Non-political instruments
are not covered by the proviso.

75. The 1886 Lease Agreement does provide for
resolution of disputes between the parties to the
agreement by way of arbitration: it contains an
arbitration clause. The submission of Kerala that
enforcement of any award under the arbitration clause
would be political in nature is misplaced. The
assumption of Kerala that the 1886 Lease Agreement
was not justiciable and enforceable in court of law prior
to the Constitution as no court in Travancore would
obviously entertain a claim against Maharaja and no
court outside the State of Travancore have jurisdiction
over the Maharaja of Travancore is not relevant at all
and devoid of any merit.

76. We are in complete agreement with the view taken by
this Court in Mullaperiyar Environmental Protection
Forum that the 1886 Lease Agreement would not come
within the purview of Article 363 and jurisdiction of this
Court is not barred. As a necessary corollary, the
dispute arising out of the 1886 Lease Agreement is not
barred under Article 131 proviso as well. Moreover, the
principal challenge laid in the suit pertains to the
constitutional validity of the 2006 (Amendment) Act for
which Article 363 or for that matter under Article 131
proviso does not come into operation at all.‖

82. Commenting on the aforesaid decision, it is contended by Mr.

Nariman that in Madhav Rao Scindia (supra), the majority had

clearly expressed the view that paramountcy no longer survived
106

after the coming into force of the Constitution of India. In the said

decision, it has been clearly spelt out that it is difficult to conceive

of the Government of a democratic Republic exercising against its

citizens ―paramountcy claim to be inherited, imperial power‖.

According to Mr. Nariman, when everything has come to an end, the

concept of restriction to ‗political nature‘, as has been held in State

of Tamil Nadu v. State of Kerala (supra), sounds a discordant

note.

83. Mr. Dwivedi, learned senior counsel, per contra, would submit

that the decision in State of Tamil Nadu (supra) does not run

counter to the principle stated in Madhav Rao Scindia. According

to him, Madhav Rao Scindia exclusively dealt with a political

situation. To bolster the said aspect, he has drawn our attention to

the ―Standstill Agreement‖ which does not apply to any

paramountcy function. He has also laid stress on the passage that

discusses about quid pro quo for agreeing to surrender the power

and authority by the rulers and that is why it was enacted in the

Constitution that the Princes who had signed the covenant of the

nature specified should be recognized as rulers. In essence, the

submission is that if the authority in Madhav Rao Scindia’s case
107

is appositely read and understood, it dealt with the abolition of

Privy Purses by the President of India and how the action was

erroneous and how the Court treated it to be of political nature.

84. It is absolutely manifest that the ruling in Madhav Rao

Scindia (supra) states that after coming into force of the 1947 Act,

the paramountcy lapsed and after the integration of the States with

the Indian Union, the shadow of paramountcy faded and the

Government of India became the full sovereign authority. After the

Constitution came into force, the exercise of power by the State over

its citizens stood circumscribed by the Constitution. In the said

case, the doctrine of paramountcy has no play. The two

agreements, on a studied scrutiny, do not indicate any aspect that

can be called political or touching any facet of the sovereignty of

India. The agreements covered the areas of larger public interest

like construction of dams and irrigation of land existing within the

two States, namely, the State of Mysore and the State of Madras

and had nothing to do with political arrangement. Therefore, we

are not inclined to accept the submission of Mr. Nariman that after

coming into force of the 1947 Act and thereafter the Constitution of
108

India, the agreements of 1892 and 1924 became inoperative and

totally extinct.

I. Infraction of Article 363 and non-maintainability of the
dispute on the basis of agreements

85. The next plank of submission pertains to the constitutional

infraction of Article 363. Article 363 reads as follows:-

―Article 363. Bar to interference by courts in disputes
arising out of certain treaties, agreements, etc.–
(1) Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution but
subject to the provisions of Article 143, neither the
Supreme Court nor any other court shall have
jurisdiction in any dispute arising out of any provision of
a treaty, agreement, covenant, engagement, sanad or
other similar instrument which was entered into or
executed before the commencement of this Constitution
by any Ruler of an Indian State and to which the
Government was a party and which has or has been
continued in operation after such commencement, or in
any dispute in respect of any right accruing under or any
liability or obligation arising out of any of the provisions
of this Constitution relating to any such treaty,
agreement, covenant, engagement, sanad or other similar
instrument

(2) In this article

(a) Indian State means any territory recognised
before the commencement of this Constitution by
His Majesty or the Government of the Dominion of
India as being such a State; and

(b) Ruler includes the Prince, Chief or other person
recognised before such commencement by His
109

Majesty or the Government of the Dominion of India
as the Ruler of any Indian State.‖

86. Pressing into service the aforesaid Article, it is contended by

Mr. Nariman that the said Article commences with a non-obstante

clause but subject to the provisions of Article 143 and that would

exclude anything contained in Article 262(1) and, therefore, the bar

under Article 363(1) must prevail. He has criticized the finding of

the Tribunal which has placed reliance on the judgment of this

Court in the Privy Purse case placing reliance on the view of Hegde,

J. which is not the majority view because the majority spoke

through Shah,J. It is urged by him that the finding of the Tribunal

that Article 363 cannot bar the investigation of any complaint

including a complaint regarding the agreement which has been

executed by the then Ruler of a Princely State like Mysore which

became an Indian State within the Dominion of India, a State under

the First Schedule after coming into force of the Constitution is

untenable. That apart, the Tribunal has opined that once the

dispute is referred to the Tribunal which has exclusive jurisdiction

under the Constitution to examine the dispute in respect of use,

distribution or control of waters of any inter-state river or river

valley, the said jurisdiction cannot be controlled or curtailed by
110

Article 363 and in case of agreement relating to sharing of water of

inter-State river, the Tribunal has to examine the claims of the

different riparian States in the background of such agreement and,

therefore, the enquiry is not barred under Article 363 of the

Constitution. Attacking the said findings, it is canvassed by Mr.

Nariman that the Tribunal has failed to appreciate the fact that

Articles 262 and 263 operate in entirely different fields, for Article

262 is only an exception how a particular matter relating to inter-

State river water disputes between States of India have to be

decided because it is not decided by the exclusive remedy provided

in Article 131 of the Constitution but by an alternative mode now

prescribed by the Parliament by law under Article 261(2), that is,

the 1956 Act. It is further put forth by him that the agreements of

the present nature come within the purview of Article 363 and to

substantiate the said argument, he has placed reliance on State of

Seraikella v. Union of India and another9.

87. It is submitted by Mr. Dwivedi, learned senior counsel for the

State of Tamil Nadu, that the bar of jurisdiction of this Court under

Article 363 of the Constitution relates only to certain clauses of

9 1951 SCR 474 : AIR 1951 SC 253
111

agreements, treaties, covenants, engagements, ―Sanad‖, etc. The

expression ―other similar instruments‘ clearly indicates that it is not

as if all kinds of agreements and treaties would come within the

purview of the said provision. Article 363 covers only such political

agreements executed between the Rulers of Indian States and the

Government of the Dominion of India between 1947 and 1950.

From the intrinsic language of Article 363 read with the proviso to

Article 131, it is clear that the bar of jurisdiction of the Court

applies only to disputes arising out of political agreements.

88. He has referred to the debates of the Constituent Assembly

especially the observations made by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar as the

Chairman of the Drafting Committee while moving the draft

Constitution for consideration by the Constituent Assembly. The

said observations are extracted hereunder:-

―On the 15th August 1947 we had 600 Indian States in
existence. Today by the integration of the Indian States
with Indian Provinces or merger among themselves or by
the Centre having taken them as centrally administered
areas, there have remained some 20 or 30 States as
viable States. This is a very rapid process and progress.
I appeal to those States that remain to fall in line with
the Indian Provinces and to become full units of the
Indian Union on the same terms as the Indian Provinces.
They will thereby give the Indian Union the strength it
112

needs. They will save themselves the bother of starting
their own Constituent Assemblies and drafting their own
separate constitution, and they will lose nothing that is of
value to them. I feel hopeful that my appeal will not go in
vain and that before the Constitution is passed, we will
be able to wipe off the differences between the Provinces
and the Indian States.‖
(B. Shiva Rao (Ed.), The Framing of India’s
Constitution – Select Documents, Volume IV, at
p.434)

89. The learned senior counsel would submit that the purpose of

Article 363 was to protect the Government of India from purely

political agreements which had been entered into between the

Rulers of the Indian States and the Dominion of India or its

predecessor Governments so as to prevent any obstruction to the

smooth accession of the Indian States to the Dominion of India.

90. To appreciate the submissions advanced before this Court, we

are required to analyse what has been said by this Court in State

of Seraikella. In the said case, a suit was filed under the Original

Jurisdiction of the Federal Court as it was functioning before the

Constitution of India came into force. The State of Seraikella was a

State in Orissa and on 16th August, 1947, the plaintiff-State

acceded to the Dominion of India by virtue of the Instrument of

Accession executed by its Ruler and accepted by the Governor
113

General under Section 6 of the Government of India Act, 1935.

After coming into force of the Indian Independence Act, 1947, the

Dominion of India was set up under the Government of India Act,

1935 as adopted which provided that the Indian State may accede

to the Dominion of India by an Instrument of Accession. It was

expressly provided that by executing the said instrument, the Ruler

should not be deemed to have committed to the acceptance of any

future Constitution of India or to fetter his discretion to enter into

arrangements with the Government of India under any such future

Constitution. Various other postulates which were part of the

instrument have been taken note of by the Constitution Bench. It

is worthy to note that apart from the initial instrument, no

supplement instrument was executed by the Ruler and no

amendment of the 1947 Act was accepted by him. A ―Standstill

Agreement‖ was also executed by the Ruler under which it was

agreed that matters of common concern as specified in the

Schedule to the agreement would continue between the Dominion of

India and the said State until new agreements were made in that

behalf. The controversy arose in the suit as the plaintiff-State

claimed to have merged in the province of Bihar. It was contended
114

by the plaintiff that the Government of Orissa wrongfully and

illegally purported to administer the plaintiff-State by virtue of the

Notification of 23.12.1947 under the Indian Independence Act,

1947. It was claimed that the Act was ultra vires and had no

binding effect on the plaintiff-State. It was also contended that the

agreement dated 15.12.1947 was void for want of consideration and

was inoperative. It was further canvassed that on 18th May, 1948,

without the consent and approval of the plaintiff-State or its Ruler,

the Province of Bihar absolutely illegally took over the

administration of the State and passed the Seraikella and

Kharsawan States Order, 1948. It was also asserted that the

Dominion of India had no authority to go beyond the Instrument of

Accession and further had no authority to delegate powers to the

Province of Bihar to administer the plaintiff-State. The Constitution

Bench, noting various facts and commenting on coming into effect

of the Constitution of India and the jurisdiction conferred on the

Court under Article 131, proceeded to analyse the scope and ambit

of Article 363 of the Constitution. Dwelling upon the same, Kania,

C.J. opined that the all-embracing opening words of Article 363 in

terms override all provisions of the Constitution, but are made
115

subject only to the provisions of Article 143 which enables the

President to consult the Supreme Court on matters referred to and,

therefore, clearly override the operation of Article 374(2) also. The

jurisdiction of the Supreme Court having been stated in Articles

131 to 136, Article 363 provides that notwithstanding anything

contained in those articles and other articles of the Constitution,

neither the Supreme Court nor any other court will have

jurisdiction in any dispute arising out of any provision of a treaty,

agreement, covenant, engagement, ―Sanad‖ or other similar

instrument which was entered into or executed before the

commencement of this Constitution and which had or had been

continued in operation after such commencement. If, therefore, the

dispute arises in respect of a document of that description and if

such document had been executed before the Constitution by a

Ruler and which was or had continued in operation after such

commencement, this Court has no jurisdiction to determine such

issue. The learned Chief Justice repelled the argument that the

Article is prospective and not retrospective and, hence, it only

covers the cases which are filed in the Supreme Court after the

Constitution came into force and did not affect suits filed in the
116

Federal Court before the Constitution of India came into operation.

Thereafter, he adverted to the assertions made in the plaint and

stated that the only question which remained for decision was

whether on the structure of the plaint, the dispute raised in the suit

arose out of the provision of a treaty, agreement, covenant,

engagement, ―Sanad‖ or any other similar instrument. Eventually,

Kania, C.J. held:-

―I have already noticed above that the dispute in respect
of the agreement of the 15th December, 1947, is
immaterial for the present discussion. If the plaintiff
repudiates that agreement he is seeking to enforce his
rights after ignoring the same. If the plaintiff (as noticed
in four of the suits) relies on this agreement, it becomes a
part of the Instrument of Accession under Section 6(5) of
the Government of India Act, 1935, and the dispute will
still have to be considered having regard to the terms of
the two documents viz. the original Instrument of
Accession and the supplementary Instrument. The
question thus resolves itself into an analysis of the plaint
and to find out what the plaintiff seeks to get by his suit.
Apart from the fact that in prayers (f) and (g) of his plaint
he seeks to enforce his rights under the Agreement of the
15th December, 1947, it appears clear that the whole
ambit of the suit is to enforce his Instrument of
Accession. The plaintiff contends firstly that it had signed
the Instrument of Accession through its Ruler. The State
next complains that, acting beyond the powers given over
under the Instrument of Accession, the Dominion of India
and the State of Bihar are trespassing wrongfully on its
legislative and executive functions, that the Dominion of
India and the State of Bihar are making laws which they
have no power to make having regard to the Instrument
117

of Accession, and are wrongfully interfering with the
administration of the State beyond the rights given to
them under the Instrument of Accession. The whole
plaint is nothing else except the claim to enforce the
plaintiff‘s right under the Instrument of Accession. The
dispute therefore in my opinion clearly is in respect of
this Instrument of Accession and is covered by Article
363(1) of the Constitution of India. The question of the
validity of the different enactments and orders is also
based on the rights claimed under the Instrument of
Accession so far as the plaintiff is concerned. On the side
of the defendants, the position is that they admit the
Instrument of Accession and they do not claim that they
are exercising the disputed rights under that Instrument.
Their contention is that the Agreement of the 15th of
December, 1947, was validly signed and is binding and
enforceable against the plaintiff. The defendants contend
that their action in passing the disputed legislation and
orders and the action in taking over the administration
are all based on that Agreement of 15th December, 1947.
If the plaintiff contends that that Agreement is not
binding on it, it cannot enforce its rights under the
original jurisdiction of the Court. If the plaintiff has a
grievance and a right to a relief which the defendants
contend it has not, the forum to seek redress is not the
Supreme Court exercising its original jurisdiction on the
transfer of the suit from the Federal Court. According to
the defendants, the situation in those circumstances will
be of a Sovereign Independent State trespassing on the
territories, powers and privileges of another neighbouring
independent State. To redress a grievance arising out of
such action on the part of the defendants, the Supreme
Court is not the forum to give relief. The issue is
answered in the negative, costs in the cause.‖

91. Bose, J., in his separate opinion, addressed the Issue No.1

which was to the following effect:-

118

―1. Whether having regard to the subject-matter of the
suit and the provisions contained in Article 363(1) of the
Constitution of India, this Hon‘ble Court has jurisdiction
to entertain the suit?‖

Answering the said issue, he opined:-

―Even so, it is next contended, Article 363, which
enacts a general rule of non-interference by courts
in certain classes of disputes, cannot control the
operation of Article 374(2), which is a special
provision providing that suits, appeals and
proceedings pending in the Federal Court at the
commencement of the Constitution shall stand
removed to the Supreme Court and that the
Supreme Court shall have jurisdiction to hear and
determine the same. There would be considerable
force in this argument but for the opening words of
Article 363(1), namely, ―notwithstanding anything in
this Constitution.‖ These words clearly indicate that
the bar to the exercise of jurisdiction enacted in
Article 363 controls the operation of Article
374(2)and excludes the rule of construction invoked
by the plaintiffs.‖

92. The aforesaid decision has to be appositely understood and

appreciated. Mr. Nariman would submit that any controversy

relating to any agreement is not entertainable by this Court.

According to him, a complaint for raising a dispute under Article

262 of the Constitution can be independent without the base or

foundation of the 1892 and 1924 agreements but to structure the

stand on the fulcrum of the agreements would run counter to
119

Article 363 of the Constitution as has been held by the Constitution

Bench in State of Seraikella (supra). It is also proponed by him

that the later decision in State of Tamil Nadu v. State of Kerala

(supra) has not taken note of the earlier decision and introduced

the element of political agreement and categorized agreements into

distinct ones, namely, political agreement and ordinary agreement.

The argument deserves keen scrutiny. We have extensively

discussed the facts in State of Seraikella (supra) and the view

expressed therein. As is perceptible to us, the Constitution Bench,

in actuality, was dealing with a political issue as there is constant

reference to the ―Instrument of Accession‖ and the claim was to

enforce the instrument and further to declare the legislative and

executive action of the Dominion of India and the State of Bihar as

illegal. The stand of the respondent, namely, Dominion of India,

was that it was acting as per the Instrument of Accession. The rival

stands and the analysis made thereon clearly reflect the political

nature of the controversy.

93. Sastri, J., in his concurring opinion, stated:-

―22. … The controversies regarding these matters are but
contentions whereby the parties seek to establish, on the
120

one hand, that the Instrument of Accession still governs
their mutual rights and obligations and, on the other,
that that Instrument stands superseded and is no longer
in force. Issues have no doubt been framed in regard to
these matters but they cannot, in my opinion, be
considered to be disputes for the purposes of Article 131
or Article 363(1). These articles deal with the jurisdiction
of Courts and they envisage disputed claims to
substantive legal rights. The claims in these suits are
undoubtedly based on the respective Instruments of
Accession and they are repudiated because those
Instruments of Accession are said to have been
superseded by reason of the alleged agreement of
December, 1947. These claims are disputes to which
Article 363(1) clearly applies. The other so-called disputes
are only incidental and ancillary controversies raised
with a view to support or overthrow the claims and
cannot, in my opinion, affect the operation of the bar
under that Article any more than, for instance, Issue 5
relating to the necessity for notice to the defendants
under Section 80 of the Civil Procedure Code.

23. Nevertheless, it is contended, the article has no
application here and it cannot operate retrospectively and
applies only to disputes arising after the commencement
of the Constitution. I am unable to accept this restricted
interpretation of Article 363(1). While the Article
undoubtedly postulates the continued operation of the
treaties, agreements, etc., entered into or executed before
the commencement of the Constitution and giving rise to
the disputes, it does not require, as a condition of its
application, that such Disputes should arise after the
commencement of the Constitution. I see no reason for
importing a restriction which a plain grammatical
construction of the language employed does not warrant.
It is not correct to say that the wider construction would
make the operation of the article retrospective, for the bar
to interference by the court operates only after the
Constitution came into force irrespective of the disputes
121

concerned having arisen before or after the
commencement of the Constitution. It was said that the
article should not be construed so as to bar the trial of
pending suits or proceedings. But this is not a case of a
pending action in a court which continues to function.
The Federal Court, in which the suits were pending, and
which had exclusive jurisdiction to deal with them, was
abolished and a new court, the Supreme Court of India,
was created with original jurisdiction strictly limited to
disputes relating to legal rights between States
recognised as such under the Constitution. But as the
States specified in Part B of the First Schedule had a
semi-sovereign status before the Constitution,
agreements with them were in the nature of international
treaties and covenants, and disputes arising out of them
would not lie in municipal courts. That principle is given
effect to, so far as the Supreme Court‘s original
jurisdiction is concerned, by the proviso to Article 131
which defines such jurisdiction and, in regard to all
courts and in respect of all proceedings, by Article 363(1).
The reason for applying that principle is greater, not less,
in regard to such disputes arising before the Constitution
when these States, then known as Indian States, enjoyed
a higher degree of political freedom. Furthermore, the
construction contended for by the plaintiffs as applied to
Article 131 would mean that the Court would,
notwithstanding the proviso, have jurisdiction in respect
of such disputes, provided they arose before the
commencement of the Constitution. If that had been
intended, one would expect that such jurisdiction would
have been conferred by positive enactment, instead of
being left to be derived by implication from a proviso
intended to delimit the jurisdiction conferred by that
article. It seems to me, therefore, that the proviso to
Article 131 must be construed as applicable to disputes
of the kind mentioned arising both before and after the
commencement of the Constitution. If so, Article 363(1)
must receive the same construction, the language
employed being essentially the same.‖
122

94. Relying on the aforesaid opinion of Sastri. J., it is submitted by

Mr. Nariman that each of the agreements of 1892 and 1924

executed by the Ruler of a semi-sovereign state has to be regarded

as an international treaty, covenant or agreement as in any case

even under common law which continues under the provisions of

Article 372 and thus, the municipal courts or authorities would not

have jurisdiction to adjudicate upon them, for Article 363 clearly

stipulates that municipal courts do not interfere in such

agreements where one of the parties has a semi-sovereign status.

In essence, the contention is that the agreements are not liable to

be adjudicated in a court of law or tribunal as has been held by the

Constitution Bench in In Re: Presidential Reference (Cauvery

Water Disputes Tribunal)10 to the effect that the entire ―judicial

power of the State‖ under Article 131 relating to adjudication of

water disputes stood transferred under the law enacted under

Article 262(1), that is, the 1956 Act and the finding recorded by the

Tribunal is not a court and, therefore, Article 363(1) would not

10 1993 (Supp) (1) SCC 96
123

apply to it is incorrect. According to him, the agreements are not to

be looked into for any purpose.

95. To appreciate the submission, we may refer to the analysis put

forth by the Tribunal in this regard. The Tribunal adverted to the

decision in Madhav Rao Scindia (supra) and came to hold thus:-

―21. The same is the position here. The Inter-State Water
Disputes Act, 1956 has not been enacted under Entry 56
of the Union List of Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.
It has been enacted under power vested in the Parliament
by Article 262 of the Constitution. In view of Article 262
Parliament may by law provide for adjudication of any
dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution
or control of the waters of, or in, any inter- State river or
river valley. Article 262(2) has a non-obstante clause
saying that notwithstanding anything in the
Constitution, Parliament may by law provide that neither
the Supreme Court nor any other court shall exercise
jurisdiction in respect of any such dispute or complaint
as is referred in clause (1). It has already been pointed
out above that in exercise of this power in the Inter-State
Water Disputes Act, 1956, Section 11 excludes the
jurisdiction of all courts including the Supreme Court, if
in Article 363(1) there is a non- obstante clause giving an
over-riding effect, then even in Article 262(2) there is a
non-obstante clause which read with Section 11 of the
Inter-State Water Disputes Act shall exclude the
jurisdiction of Supreme Court or any other court in
respect of a dispute relating to use, distribution and
control of waters of inter-State river or river valley. It
cannot be disputed that Article 262 is a special provision
providing for adjudication of any dispute in respect of
use, distribution or control of waters of an inter-State
river or river valley. As such on the well-known rule of
124

construction generalia specialibus non derogant, a special
provision excludes the general provision; Article 363
cannot bar the investigation in respect of any complaint
including a complaint regarding the non-compliance of
terms of an agreement which had been executed by the
then ruler of a princely State like Mysore which became
an Indian State within the Dominion of India and later
after coming into force of the Constitution, a State under
First Schedule of the Constitution.‖

96. The Tribunal, thereafter, placed reliance on Maharaja Shree

Umaid Mills Ltd. v. Union of India11; State of Seraikella (supra)

and H.H. Maharajadhiraja Madhav Rao Jiwaji Rao Scindia

Bahadur (supra) and the 1956 Act and opined:-

―In this background, it is very difficult to hold that Article
363 of the Constitution shall govern or control the
inquiry and investigation by the Tribunal in respect of a
water dispute relating to interpretation of the terms of
any agreement or failure of any State to implement the
terms of such agreement relating to the use, distribution
or control of such waters.‖

97. Having noted the same, we may look at what has been stated

by this Court in the context of Article 363 of the Constitution. In

Madhav Rao Scindia case, Hidayatullah, C.J., while dealing with

the interpretation of Article 363, observed:-

―66. I begin with Article 363. That article was quoted in
extenso earlier. The learned Attorney-General used the
11 (1963) Supp. (2) SCR 515 : AIR 1963 SC 953
125

historical events as background for his contention that
Article 363 must be construed as giving an exclusive
right of determination to the President on the subject of
recognition and withdrawal of recognition. He submitted
that just as an act of State cannot be questioned in a
Municipal Court so also the withdrawal of recognition
cannot be called in question. He cited a large number of
authorities in support of his case that an act of State is
not subject to the scrutiny of the Courts.

67. The question here is not one of an act of State. Nor
can any assurance be drawn from the doctrine of act of
State. What we have to do is to construe the article. It
bars jurisdiction of Court. It has no bearing upon the
rights of the Rulers as such. It neither increases nor
reduces those rights by an iota. I shall presently attempt
to find out its meaning. Before I do so I must say that it
is a well-known rule of interpretation of provisions
barring the jurisdiction of civil courts that they must be
strictly construed for the exclusion of the jurisdiction of a
civil court, and least of all the Supreme Court, is not to
be lightly inferred. The gist of the present dispute is
whether the article bars the relief to the petitioners
although as held by me, the order of the President is
ultra vires.

68. The article commences with the opening words
―notwithstanding anything in this Constitution‖. These
exclusionary words are no doubt potent enough to
exclude every consideration arising from the other
provisions of the Constitution including the Chapter on
Fundamental Rights, but for that reason alone we must
determine the scope of the article strictly. The article goes
on to say that jurisdiction of all Courts including the
Supreme Court is barred except that the President may
consult the Supreme Court. Having said this the articles
goes on to specify the matters on which the jurisdiction is
barred. This it does in two parts. The first part is: ―In any
dispute arising out of any provision of a treaty etc., which
126

was entered into or executed before the commencement
of this Constitution by any Ruler of an Indian State to
which the Government of the Dominion of India was a
party and which has or has been continued in operation
after such commencement‖. This shows that a dispute
relating to the enforcement, interpretation or breach of
any treaty etc., is barred from the Courts‘ jurisdiction.
The words ‗arising out of the provisions of a treaty etc.,‘
limit the words. Thus if a treaty, covenant, etc., is
characterised as forged by any party, that would not be a
dispute ‗arising out of any provision of a treaty, covenant,
etc.‘ That dispute would be whether there is a genuine
treaty or not. This illustration is given by me to show that
the exclusion is not all-embracing. The dispute to be
barred must arise from a provision of the treaty, etc.‖

98. Shah, J., while speaking for the majority, interpreting Article

363, ruled:-

―133. Jurisdiction of the Courts in matters specified is
excluded not because the Union of India is successor to
the paramountcy of the British Crown, nor because the
rights and obligations accepted and recognized by the
Constitution may still be regarded as flowing from acts of
State: it is only excluded in respect of specific matters by
the express provision in Article 363 of the Constitution.
Jurisdiction of the Courts even in those matters is not
barred ―at the threshold‖ as contended by the Attorney-

General. The President cannot lay down the extent of this
Court‘s jurisdiction. He is not made by the Constitution
the arbiter of the extent of his authority, nor of the
validity of his acts. Action of President is liable to be
tested for its validity before the Courts unless their
jurisdiction is by express enactment or clear implication
barred. To accede to the claim that the jurisdiction of the
Court is barred in respect of whatever the executive
asserts is valid, is plainly to subvert the Rule of law. It is
127

therefore within the province of the Court alone to
determine what the dispute brought before it is and to
determine whether the jurisdiction of the Court is,
because it falls within one of the two limbs of Article 363,
excluded qua that dispute. The first limb of Article 363
operates to defeat the jurisdiction of the Courts only
when a claim to relief founded on the covenants is
disputed: the second limb of Article 363 operates when
there is a dispute with respect to rights or obligations
accruing or arising out of a provision of the Constitution
relating to a covenant.

134. In dealing with the dimensions of exclusion of the
exercise of judicial power under Article 363, it is
necessary to bear in mind certain broad considerations.
The proper forum under our Constitution for determining
a legal dispute is the Court which is by training and
experience, assisted by properly qualified advocates,
fitted to perform that task. A provision which purports to
exclude the jurisdiction of the Courts in certain matters
and to deprive the aggrieved party of the normal remedy
will be strictly construed, for it is a principle not to be
whittled down that an aggrieved party will not, unless the
jurisdiction of the Courts is by clear enactment or
necessary implication barred, be denied his right to seek
recourse to the Courts for determination of his rights.
The Court will interpret a statute as far as possible,
agreeably to justice and reason and that in case of two or
more interpretations, one which is more reasonable and
just will be adopted, for there is always a presumption
against the law maker intending injustice and unreason.
The Court will avoid imputing to the Legislature an
intention to enact a provision which flouts notions of
justice and norms of fairplay, unless a contrary intention
is manifest from words plain and unambiguous. The
provision in a statute will not be construed to defeat its
manifest purpose and general values which animate its
structure. In an avowedly democratic polity, statutory
provisions ensuring the security of fundamental human
128

rights including the right to property must, unless the
mandate to precise and unqualified, be construed
liberally so as to uphold the right. These rules apply to
the interpretation of constitutional and statutory
provisions alike.‖

And again:-

―141. … Article 363 prescribes a limited exclusion of the
jurisdiction of Courts, but that exclusion does not
operate upon the claim for a Privy Purse, relying upon
Article 291. The question as to the jurisdiction of the
Courts to entertain a claim for payment of Privy Purse
did not fall to be determined in Nawab Usman Ali Khan
case. The only question raised was whether the Privy
Purse was not capable of attachment in execution of the
decree of a civil court, because of the specific exemption
of political pensions under Section 60(1)(g) of the Code of
Civil Procedure. In Kunvar Shri Vir Rajendra Singh case
the Court did not express any opinion that Article
366(22) was a provision relating to a covenant within the
meaning of Article 363. In that case the petitioner who
was not recognised as a Ruler by the President
abandoned at the hearing of his petition his claim to the
Privy Purse payable to the Ruler of Dholpur, and pressed
his claim by succession under the Hindu Law to the
Private property of the former Ruler. The Court was not
called upon to decide and did not decide that Article
366(22) was a provision relating to a covenant within the
meaning of Article 363. It is difficult to regard a word or a
clause occurring in a judgment of this Court, divorced
from its context, as containing a full exposition of the law
on a question when the question did not fall to be
answered in that judgment.

142. In the view we have expressed, the argument raised
by Mr Palkhivala that even if clause (22) of Article 366 is
a provision relating to the covenants, the jurisdiction of
129

this Court under Article 32 to grant relief against an
invalid exercise of power withdrawing recognition of the
Rulers is not barred, needs no consideration.

99. Presently, we may refer to the analysis of Article 363 as has

been made by the Constitution Bench in State of Tamil Nadu v.

State of Kerala (supra). In the said case, the learned Chief Justice,

speaking for the Court, opined that a plain reading of Article 363

leaves no manner of doubt that if the dispute arises in respect of a

document of that description and if such document had been

executed before the commencement of the Constitution, the

interference by courts is barred. The documents referred to in

Article 363 are those which are political in nature. Any dispute

regarding such documents is non-justiciable. The object behind

Article 363 is to bind the Indian Rulers with treaties, agreements,

covenants, engagements, ―Sanads‖ or other similar instruments

entered into or executed before the commencement of the

Constitution and to prevent the Indian Rulers from resiling from

such agreements as the integrity of India was to be maintained at

all costs and could not be affected by raising certain disputes.

Thereafter, the larger Bench referred to the ‗White Paper‘ on Indian

States prepared by the Government of India in 1948 which brings
130

out the historical perspective which necessitated the adoption of the

provisions in Article 363.

100. The Court reproduced a passage from the ‗White Paper‘ which

reads as under:-

―Article 363 has therefore been embodied in the
Constitution which excludes specifically the Agreements
of Merger and the Covenants from the jurisdiction of
courts except in cases which may be referred to the
Supreme Court by the President‖.

101. After so stating, the Court referred to Article 131 that deals

with the original jurisdiction of this Court and proceeded to state:-

―74. There is similarity of provision in Article 363 and
proviso to Article 131. The original jurisdiction conferred
on this Court by the main provision contained in Article
131 is excepted by virtue of the proviso in the matters of
political settlements. By making provisions such as
Article 363 and proviso to Article 131, the political
settlements have been taken out of the purview of judicial
pronouncements. Proviso appended to Article 131
renders a dispute arising out of any treaty, agreement,
covenant, engagement, sanad or similar instrument
which is political in nature executed before the
commencement of the Constitution and which has or has
been continued in operation, non-justiciable and
jurisdiction of this Court is barred. The jurisdiction of
this Court is not taken away in respect of the dispute
arising out of an ordinary agreement. The instruments
referred to and described in the proviso are only those
which are political in nature. Non-political instruments
are not covered by the proviso.‖
131

102. Be it noted, the larger Bench has referred to the decision in

Virendra Singh (supra) and opined thus:-

―70.2. The exposition of above legal position by the
Constitution Bench hardly admits of any doubt.

Obviously, the accession of an Indian State to the
Dominion of India and acceptance of it by the Dominion
are acts of State and jurisdiction of the courts to go into its
competency or settle any dispute arising out of them are
clearly barred under Article 363 and the proviso to Article

131. As we have already held—and that is what has been
held in the 2006 judgment as well—that the 1886 Lease
Agreement is an ordinary agreement and that it is not
political in nature, the embargo of Article 363 and the
proviso to Article 131 have no application.‖

And again:-

―76. We are in complete agreement with the view taken by
this Court in Mullaperiyar Environmental Protection Forum
that the 1886 Lease Agreement would not come within the
purview of Article 363 and jurisdiction of this Court is not
barred. As a necessary corollary, the dispute arising out
of the 1886 Lease Agreement is not barred under Article
131 proviso as well. Moreover, the principal challenge laid
in the suit pertains to the constitutional validity of the
2006 (Amendment) Act for which Article 363 or for that
matter under Article 131 proviso does not come into
operation at all.‖

103. On a perusal of the aforesaid, it seems to us that there is no

discord or lack of concord with the view expressed in State of

Seraikella (supra). We are persuaded to think so as the

Constitution Bench in the earlier case was dealing with a different
132

kind of instrument which was indubitably of political character

entered prior to coming into force of the Constitution.

104. In the case of Madhav Rao Scindia (supra), the sphere of

adjudication was absolutely different. In the case at hand, the

agreements in question relate to the sphere of water sharing,

irrigation, etc. and have nothing to do, even remotely, with the

concept of sovereignty and integrity of India and, therefore, it will be

erroneous to hold that the bar under Article 363 of the Constitution

would apply. It is so as both the agreements between the States do

not refer to any political element and cannot be termed as political

in character. The view expressed in State of Seraikella (supra), as

already stated hereinbefore, related to an aspect of integrity or

sovereignty of India and that is why, the bar operated. The bar

under Article 363 was not allowed to stand in Madhav Rao

Scindia (supra) as it was dealing with a constitutional claim of the

Rulers relating to Privy Purse and the same did not have any

political characteristics. In any case, the position has been

absolutely made clear by the Constitution Bench in State of Tamil

Nadu (popularly known as Mullaperiyar dam case). Therefore, it

can be stated, without desiring to give rise to any controversy and
133

without fear of any contradiction, that the bar under Article 363 is

not applicable. The submission astutely advanced on behalf of the

State of Karnataka that the two agreements should not be looked

into at all for the purpose of adjudication of the water dispute by

the Tribunal because of Article 262 of the Constitution is

unacceptable.

J. Unconscionability of the 1892 and 1924 agreements

105. It is submitted by Mr. Nariman, learned senior counsel, that

both the 1892 and 1924 agreements are hit by the doctrine of

unconscionability as the Princely State of Mysore and the State of

Madras were on two different platforms. The State of Mysore was a

vassal State and had really no authority to speak on various

aspects of the agreement. In fact, it had no power to bargain and it

is reflectible when the Secretary of State was able to set aside the

binding award passed by the learned Arbitrator. The agreements,

contends Mr. Nariman, suffer from unconscionable bargain.

Learned senior counsel is critical that the Tribunal has not adverted

to the principle of unconscionability at all and erroneously relied on

the decision in New Bihar Biri Leaves Co. and others v. State of
134

Bihar and others12 and arrived at the conclusion that the

agreement having been acted upon by both the parties in 1974,

there was an estoppel. He has referred to Section 16 of the Indian

Contract Act and the commentary by Pollock and Mulla in the book

(1st Edition, 1905). The commentary commended reads as follows:-

―"Unconscionable bargains" - Illustration (c) contemplates
the case of a person already indebted to a money-lender
contracting a fresh loan with him on terms on the face of
them unconscionable. In such a case a presumption is
raised that the borrower's consent was not free. The
presumption is rebuttable, but the burden of proof is on
the party who has sought to make an exorbitant profit of
the other's distress. The question is not of fraud, but of
the unconscientious use of superior power."

[Emphasis Supplied]

106. He has also referred to the 8th Edition by M.C. Setalvad in

1957 wherein it has been commented:-

―........ Relief in case of unconscionable bargains is an old
head of English equity. It was formerly associated in a
special manner with sales of reversionary interests,
which the Court was eager to restrain; and for some time
it was the doctrine of the Court that a sale of any
reversionary interest, if proved to have been made for
only a little under the value, must be set aside without
further inquiry. This rule was at last found so
inconvenient that it was abolished by statute. But the
general principles of equity in dealing with what are
called ―catching bargains‖ remain, and the third clause of

12 (1981) 1 SCC 537
135

the section now before us is apparently intended to
embody them.‖
[Underlining is ours]

107. Apart from relying on the said provision and the

commentaries, he has also drawn inspiration from the authorities

in Central Inland Water Transport Corporation Limited and

another v. Brojo Nath Ganguly Another.13; O.P. Bhandari v.

ITDC14; Delhi Transport Corporation v. D.T.C. Mazdoor

Congress and others15; and Balmer Lawrie Company Limited

and others v. Partha Sarathi Sen Roy and others (2J)16. He has

also drawn our attention to the Black‘s Law Dictionary by Bryan

Garner, Editor-Chief (10th Edition, Thomson Reuters) wherein

unconscionability has been defined thus:-

―Unconscionability. 1. Extreme unfairness.
Unconscionability is normally assessed by an objective
standard: (1) one party's lack of meaningful choice, and
(2) contractual terms that unreasonably favor the other
party. 2. The principle that a court may refuse to enforce
a contract that is unfair or oppressive because of
procedural abuses during contract formation or because
of overreaching contractual terms, esp. terms that are
unreasonably favorable to one party while precluding
meaningful choice for the other party."

13 (1986) 3 SCC 156
14 (1986) 4 SCC 337
15 1991 Supp. (1) SCC 600
16 (2013) 8 SCC 345
136

108. A passage from John Westlake International Law: Part-I.

Peace, Cambridge University Press, 1910 has been commended to

us. The said passage reads thus:-

"On the internal side, that is the relation of the native
states to the British power, the Government of India
published the following notification in its official Gazette,
No. 1700 E, 21 August 1891:

"The principles of international law have no bearing
upon the relations between the Government of India
as representing the queen-empress on the one
hand, and the native states under the suzerainty of
Her Majesty on the other. The paramount
supremacy of the former presupposes and implies
the subordination of the latter."

And again :-

"Thus India is a world of itself. Not only is the action of
all foreign states excluded from every part of it, but
those parts which are not included in the dominions of
the king-emperor are subject to a suzerainty,
paramountcy or supremacy possessed by him, to which
nothing parallel exists in the relations of states of
international law".

109. Inspiration has also been drawn from the book Rivers in

International Law (1959) by F.J. Berber, which states:-

"The Cauvery dispute between Mysore and Madras,
settled in 1925, was a dispute between two territories of
which one was a province of British India and the other
was a dependent princely state under British suzerainty.

137

The dispute was not settled by the application of
international law but through an authoritative decision of
the sovereign power, or the British Crown. under its
general responsibility to interfere in every matter in
which according to its estimation the public interest was
threatened with injury. That means that it was a typical
case of the application of norms of municipal law. We can
therefore extract nothing from it for our inquiry. Only one
aspect in the dispute is significant for international law,
namely, the endeavour to protect the rights of Karikal, at
that time still a French possession. After representations
by the French Ambassador in London the Indian
Government in its Note of May 1, 1924, was able to state
that the existing water rights of Karikal would be
safeguarded. This recognition of the water rights of a
neighbouring colony is in harmony with Anglo- French
practice in connection with water rights in their African
colonies."

110. We have also been referred to a passage from L. Oppenheim

International Law (8th Edition) which is extracted below:-

"91. The fact that the relation between the suzerain and
the vassal always depends upon the special case,
excludes the possibility of laying down a general rule as
to the international position of vassal States. The vassal
State has no relations with other States since the
suzerain absorbs these relations entirety; yet the vassal
remains nevertheless a half- sovereign State on account
of its internal independence. This was the position of the
Indian vassal States of Great Britain, which had no
international relations whatever either between
themselves or with foreign States. Yet instances can be
given which demonstrate that" vassal States can have
some subordinate international position."

138

111. Laying emphasis on the aforesaid passages, it is argued by Mr.

Nariman that the agreements are ex facie unconscionable and

smack of absolute unfairness and unreasonableness because the

parties were not at arm‘s length and they never did possess equal

bargaining power. In Central Inland Water Transport

Corporation Limited (supra), the two-Judge Bench referred to

Sections 16, 23 and 24 of the Contract Act and quoted some

relevant passages from Chitty on Contracts (25th Edition, Vol.I). We

think it appropriate to extract the said passages:-

―These ideas have to a large extent lost their appeal
today. ‗Freedom of contract‘, it has been said, ‗is a
reasonable social ideal only to the extent that equality of
bargaining power between contracting parties can be
assumed, and no injury is done to the economic interests
of the community at large‘. Freedom of contract is of little
value when one party has no alternative between
accepting a set of terms proposed by the other or doing
without the goods or services offered. Many contracts
entered into by public utility undertakings and others
take the form of a set of terms fixed in advance by one
party and not open to discussion by the other. These are
called ‗contracts d’adhesion‘ by French lawyers. Traders
frequently contract, not on individually negotiated terms,
but on those contained in a standard form of contract
settled by a trade association. And the terms of an
employee‘s contract of employment may be determined by
agreement between his trade union and his employer, or
by a statutory scheme of employment. Such transactions
are nevertheless contracts notwithstanding that freedom
of contract is to a great extent lacking.

139

Where freedom of contract is absent, the disadvantages
to consumers or members of the public have to some
extent been offset by administrative procedures for
consultation, and by legislation. Many statutes introduce
terms into contracts which the parties are forbidden to
exclude, or declare that certain provisions in a contract
shall be void. And the courts have developed a number of
devices for refusing to implement exemption clauses
imposed by the economically stronger party on the
weaker, although they have not recognised in themselves
any general power (except by statute) to declare broadly
that an exemption clause will not be enforced unless it is
reasonable. Again, more recently, certain of the judges
appear to have recognised the possibility of relief from
contractual obligations on the ground of ‗inequality of
bargaining power‘.‖

112. Thereafter, the learned Judges referred to the meaning of

Adhesion Contract and reproduced a passage from Reinstatement of

the Law—Second as adopted and promulgated by the American Law

Institute, Volume II:-

―208. Unconscionable Contract or Term
If a contract or term thereof is unconscionable at the
time the contract is made a court may refuse to enforce
the contract, or may enforce the remainder of the
contract without the unconscionable term, or may so
limit the application of any unconscionable term as to
avoid any unconscionable result.‖

In the Comments given under that section, it is stated at
page 107:

140

―Like the obligation of good faith and fair dealing (§ 205),
the policy against unconscionable contracts or terms
applies to a wide variety of types of conduct. The
determination that a contract or term is or is not
unconscionable is made in the light of its setting,
purpose and effect. Relevant factors include weaknesses
in the contracting process like those involved in more
specific rules as to contractual capacity, fraud and other
invalidating causes; the policy also overlaps with rules
which render particular bargains or terms unenforceable
on grounds of public policy. Policing against
unconscionable contracts or terms has sometimes been
accomplished by adverse construction of language, by
manipulation of the rules of offer and acceptance or by
determinations that the clause is contrary to public policy
or to the dominant purpose of the contract. Uniform
Commercial Code § 2-302 Comment 1 .... A bargain is
not unconscionable merely because the parties to it are
unequal in bargaining position, nor even because the
inequality results in an allocation of risks to the weaker
party. But gross inequality of bargaining power, together
with terms unreasonably favourable to the stronger party,
may confirm indications that the transaction involved
elements of deception or compulsion, or may show that
the weaker party had no meaningful choice, no real
alternative, or did not in fact assent or appear to assent
to the unfair terms.‖

113. After referring to many authors and decisions, the Court came

to hold:-

―As seen above, apart from judicial decisions, the United
States and the United Kingdom have statutorily
recognised, at least in certain areas of the law of
contracts, that there can be unreasonableness (or lack of
fairness, if one prefers that phrase) in a contract or a
clause in a contract where there is inequality of
141

bargaining power between the parties although arising
out of circumstances not within their control or as a
result of situations not of their creation. Other legal
systems also permit judicial review of a contractual
transaction entered into in similar circumstances. For
example, Section 138(2) of the German Civil Code
provides that a transaction is void ―when a person‖
exploits ―the distressed situation, inexperience, lack of
judgmental ability, or grave weakness of will of another to
obtain the grant or promise of pecuniary advantages ...
which are obviously disproportionate to the performance
given in return‖. The position according to the French law
is very much the same.‖

114. After so stating, the Court posed the question as to whether

our Court should advance with time and, thereafter, referred to

Article 14 of the Constitution and ruled:-

―It will apply where the inequality is the result of
circumstances, whether of the creation of the parties or
not. It will apply to situations in which the weaker party
is in a position in which he can obtain goods or services
or means of livelihood only upon the terms imposed by
the stronger party or go without them. It will also apply
where a man has no choice, or rather no meaningful
choice, but to give his assent to a contract or to sign on
the dotted line in a prescribed or standard form or to
accept a set of rules as part of the contract, however
unfair, unreasonable and unconscionable a clause in
that contract or form or rules may be. This principle,
however, will not apply where the bargaining power of the
contracting parties is equal or almost equal. This
principle may not apply where both parties are
businessmen and the contract is a commercial
transaction. In today‘s complex world of giant
corporations with their vast infrastructural organizations
142

and with the State through its instrumentalities and
agencies entering into almost every branch of industry
and commerce, there can be myriad situations which
result in unfair and unreasonable bargains between
parties possessing wholly disproportionate and unequal
bargaining power. These cases can neither be
enumerated nor fully illustrated. The court must judge
each case on its own facts and circumstances.‖

And again:-

―The types of contracts to which the principle formulated
by us above applies are not contracts which are tainted
with illegality but are contracts which contain terms
which are so unfair and unreasonable that they shock
the conscience of the court. They are opposed to public
policy and require to be adjudged void.‖

115. We must note with profit that in the said case, the Court did

not accept the stand of the appellant-Corporation that it was an

ordinary contract entered by the employer with the employee but

treated it as a contract with higher bargaining power by the

Corporation with the workmen and that the conditions incorporated

in the contract were wholly unconscionable and against the public

interest, for it had the tendency to create a sense of insecurity in

the minds of those to whom it applies and further it was against

public good.

143

116. In Delhi Transport Corporation (supra), B.C. Ray, J. placed

reliance on O.P. Bhandari (supra) which had followed the

observations made in Central Inland Water Transport

Corporation Limited (supra), and West Bengal State Electricity

Board and others v. Desh Bandhu Ghosh and others17 and came

to the conclusion that it was impossible to hold Regulation 9(b) of

the Delhi Road Transport Authority (Conditions of Appointment and

Service) Regulations, 1952 as constitutional. Sawant, J. opined

that the arbitrary rules are called Henry-VIII and the self asserting

reliance on the theory of high authority was unacceptable. The said

decision has been pressed into service to highlight that the majority

in the Constitution bench has accepted the principle laid down in

Central Inland Water Transport Corporation Limited (supra)

which pertains to the bargaining power and how a contract of

employment becomes unconscionable.

117. The aforesaid submission of Mr. Nariman has been

vehemently opposed by Mr. Dwivedi and Mr. Naphade, learned

senior counsel appearing for the State of Tamil Nadu, on two

counts, namely, that the ―Standstill Agreement‖ executed by the

17 AIR 1985 SC 722
144

State of Mysore allowed the said agreement to continue and further,

the agreement was not denounced as required under the proviso to

Section 7(1)(c) of the 1947 Act. Though we have referred to the

―Standstill Agreement‖ and quoted a portion of it, yet at this

juncture, it is pertinent to reproduce the said agreement along with

the Schedule in entirety:-

―Agreement between the State of Mysore and the
Dominion of India.

WHEREAS it is to the benefit and advantage of the
dominion of India as well as of the Indian States that
existing agreements and administrative arrangements in
the matters of common concern, should continue for the
time being, between the Dominion of India or any part
thereof and the India States:-

Now, therefore, it is agreed between the Mysore
State and the Dominion of India that:-

1. (1) Until new agreements in this behalf are made,
all agreements and administrative arrangements as to
matters of common concern now existing between the
Crown and any Indian State shall, in so far as may be
appropriate, continue as between the Dominion of India
or, as the case may be, the part thereof, and the State.
(2) In particular, and without derogation from the
generality of sub-clause (1) of this clause the matters
referred to above shall include the matters specified in
the Schedule to this Agreement.

145

2. Any dispute arising out of this Agreement, or out of the
agreements or arrangements hereby continued, shall
unless any provision is made therein for arbitration by an
authority other than the Governor General or Governor,
be settled by arbitration according, as far as may be, to
the procedure of the Indian Arbitration Act, 1899.

3. Nothing in this agreement includes the exercise of any
paramountcy functions.

SCHEDULE

1. Air Communications

2. Arms and equipment

3. Control of commodities

4. Currency and coinage

5. Customs

6. Indian States Forces

7. External Affairs.

8. Extradition

9. Import and Export Control.

10. Irrigation and Electric Power

11. Motor Vehicles

12. National Highways

13. Opium

14. Posts, Telegraphs and Telephones

15. Railways

16. Salt

17. Central Excises, relief from double income-tax and
other arrangements relating to taxation.

18. Wireless.‖
[Underlining is by us]

118. At this stage, we may also reproduce the proviso to Section

7(1)(c) of the 1947 Act. It is as follows:-

146

―Provided that, notwithstanding anything in paragraph

(b) or paragraph (c) of this subsection, effect shall, as
nearly as may be, continue to be given to the provisions
of any such agreement as is therein referred to which
relate to customs, transit and communications, -posts
and telegraphs, or other like matters, until the provisions
in question are denounced by the Ruler of the Indian
State or person having authority in the tribal areas on
the one hand, or by the Dominion or Province or other
part thereof concerned on the other hand, or are
superseded by subsequent agreements.‖
[Emphasis Supplied]

119. On a keen scrutiny of the evidence on record, there is no proof

that the State of Mysore, at the relevant time, had denounced the

agreement. We have already discussed the doctrine of paramountcy

and how the same is not applicable to these categories of

agreements. Mr. Nariman, learned senior counsel, would submit

that automatic extinction of agreement because of evaporation of

the doctrine of paramountcy is one thing and applicability of the

said principle to treat the agreement as unconscionable is quite a

distinct aspect. As held earlier, the agreements did not

automatically come to an end either after coming into force of the

1947 Act or after coming into force of the Constitution because of

the ―Standstill Agreement‖ and further owing to the fact that there

had been no denouncement. The bargaining power may not have
147

existed in 1892 or 1924 but definitely, the said power to bargain or

to choose came alive after the 1947 Act and, undoubtedly, after the

Constitution came into being. However, the State of Karnataka

chose not to do so. If we allow ourselves to say so, it chose not to

rise like a phoenix but, on the contrary, it maintained sphinx like

silence at the relevant time. Therefore, we are not persuaded to

accept the submission that the agreements should be declared as

void because of unconscionability.

K. Status of the agreements after coming into force of the
States Reorganization Act, 1956

120. Challenging the subsistence and continuance of the

agreements, the next limb of submission of Mr. Nariman is that

after the coming into force of the States Reorganization Act, 1956,

(for short ―the Reorganization Act‘), the agreements became extinct

for the newly formed State of Mysore was not bound by the 1924

agreement since the Part B State of Mysore had not entered into

any agreement with the State of Madras. It is contended by him

that the Part B State of Mysore was not the new State of Mysore

and on a careful reading of the various provisions of the

Reorganisation Act, it is abundantly clear that only the rights,
148

responsibilities, liabilities and obligations to be borne by the new

State of Mysore find mention but the same has no reference to the

rights and obligations under the 1924 agreement. Elaborating

further, learned senior counsel would contend that the rights and

obligations under the 1924 agreement may have devolved upon the

Part B State of Mysore but that would not be considered as an

agreement made in exercise of the executive power by the said Part

B State of Mysore.

121. Mr. Nariman has referred to Section 7 of the Reorganisation

Act to highlight that by reason of the provisions contained under

Section 7 of the said Act, the new State of Mysore cannot be treated

as the successor State in respect of the obligations of the Ruler of

the Indian State of Mysore under the Agreements of 1892 and 1924.

To appreciate the said submission in proper perspective, we think it

appropriate to reproduce the provisions. It reads as follows:-

―Section 7. Formation of a new Mysore State.─(1) As
from the appointed day, there shall be formed a new State
to be known as the State of Mysore comprising the
following territories, namely:─

(a) the territories of the existing State of Mysore;

149

(b) Belgaum district except Chandgad taluka and Bijapur,
Dharwar and Kanara districts, in the existing State of
Bombay;

(c) Gulbarga district except Kodangal and Tandur taluks,
Raichur district except Alampur and Gadwal taluks, and
Bidar district except Ahmadpur, Nilanga and Udgir taluks
and the portions specified in clause (d) of sub- section (1)
of section 3, in the existing State of Hyderabad;

(d) South Kanara district except Kasaragod taluk and
Amindivi Islands, and Kollegal taluk of Coimbatore
district, in the State of Madras; and

(e) the territories of the existing State of Coorg;

and thereupon the said territories shall cease to form part
of the said existing States of Mysore, Bombay, Hyderabad,
Madras and Coorg, respectively.

(2) The territory comprised in the existing State of Coorg
shall form a separate district to be known as Coorg
district, and the said Kollegal taluk shall be included in,
and become part of, Mysore district, in the new State of
Mysore.‖

122. Learned senior counsel has emphasized on the amalgamation

of various areas from various States and exclusion of some areas

and, on that foundation, a structured argument has been advanced

that the successor State cannot be held liable. Per contra, Mr.

Dwivedi, learned senior counsel, would contend that the present

case is not one where the territory of a Sovereign State got acceded

to another Sovereign State. It is a case for merger where a situation
150

obtained that the State of Mysore had accepted the 1924 Agreement

and it constitutionally remained in continuance a Part B State

under Article 295(2) of the Constitution. Formation of new States

and alteration of areas, boundaries or names of the existing States

under the parliamentary legislation did not alter the rights and

liabilities and continued to remain in force and binding upon the

successor State so long as they are not modified, changed or

repudiated. He has drawn a distinction between a statutory

acceptance and the recognition by the new State which can be

explicit or implied. For the said purpose, he has pressed into service

the decisions in M/s. Dalmia Dadri Cement Co. Ltd. v.

Commissioner of Income Tax18; Amar Chand Butail v. Union of

India and others19; and Firm Bansidhar Premsukhdas v. State

of Rajasthan20. Distinguishing the aforesaid issue, it is urged by

him that the case at hand is not one where the Sovereign State has

been acceded to or been annexed by another Sovereign State and,

therefore, the principles in State of Punjab Ors. v. Balbir

18 AIR 1958 SC 816
19 AIR 1964 SC 1658
20 AIR 1967 SC 40
151

Singh Ors.21, Ranjan Sinha v. Ajay Kumar Vishwakarma22,

State of M.P. v. Bhopal Sugar Industries Ltd.23 are applicable.

123. In Balbir Singh (supra), the erstwhile State of Punjab was

reorganized by the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966 and on the

appointed date, i.e., November 1, 1966, the former State of Punjab

ceased to exist. The successor States of Punjab, Haryana and

Union Territory of Chandigarh and the transferred territory came

into being. The controversy related to the service conditions of the

respondents. The Court referred to the dictionary clause and

Section 88 of the 1966 Act and came to hold thus:-

―Law is defined in clause (g) of Section 2 of the Act to say:

―‗law‘ includes any enactment, ordinance,
regulation, order, bye-law, rule, scheme, notification
or other instrument having, immediately before the
appointed day, the force of law in the whole or in
any part of the existing State of Punjab;‖.

We agree with the High Court that the impugned orders
in question were not law within the meaning of Section
2(g) and hence were, in terms, not saved by Section 88.
We think the High Court is right when it says:

21 (1976) 3 SCC 242
22 2017 (7) SCLAE 234
23 1964 (6) SCR 846
152

―Section 88 appears to have been introduced as a
matter of abundant caution. In my opinion, mere
splitting up of the territories of Punjab into four
successor States would not ipso facto result in the
abrogation or repeal of the laws which were
immediately in force before the appointed day in
those territories. There is nothing in the 1966 Act,
not even in Section 88, which expressly or by
necessary intendment repeals the laws which were
in force immediately before the appointed day in the
territories of the former Punjab. Those laws derived
their force de hors the 1966 Act. The first part of
Section 88 is merely clarificatory of any doubts
which might arise as a result of the reorganisation
of Punjab, while the latter part of this section is
merely an adaptative provision, to the effect, that
the territorial references in any such law to the
State of Punjab shall continue to mean the
territories within that State immediately before the
appointed day. Thus, read as a whole Section 88
merely dispels doubts as to the continuity of the
laws which were in force before the appointed day in
the former State of Punjab, until the competent
legislature or authority of the successor States
effects any change in those laws‖.‖

And again:-

―In our judgment when there is no change of
sovereignty and it is merely an adjustment of
territories by the reorganization of a particular
State, the administrative orders made by the
Government of the erstwhile State continue to be in
force and effective and binding on the successor
States until and unless they are modified, changed
or repudiated by the Governments of the successor
States. No other view is possible to be taken. The
other view will merely bring about chaos in the
153

administration of the new States. We find no
principle in support of the stand that administrative
orders made by the Government of the erstwhile
State automatically lapsed and were rendered
ineffective on the coming into existence of the new
successor States.‖

124. In Ranjan Sinha (supra), the controversy revolved around the

applicability of laws framed by the undivided State of Bihar with the

newly bifurcated State that have come into existence by virtue of

the Bihar Reorganisation Act, 2000 (for short, ―the 2000 Act‖). The

controversy also related to the service conditions. The issue arose

before the High Court of Jharkhand as to which law was in force

and eventually, on scrutiny of the Act, the High Court came to hold

that:-

―6. A division bench of the High Court of Jharkhand on
elaborate consideration of applicable provisions of the Act
and BROA came to the conclusion that Education
Regulations, applicable to the erstwhile Bihar, are law for
the new State of Jharkhand in terms of Sections 84 and
85 of the BROA and therefore unless a person is qualified
as per Education Regulations, cannot get himself
registered. It was observed as under-

‗What is contended on behalf of the Petitioners is
that the Pharmacy Act was extended to the State of
Bihar had notified and adopted the Education
Regulations issued under Section 10 of the Act
which was in Part II of the Act, that both the Act
and the Education Regulations hence constitute law
154

for the purpose of the State of Jharkhand carved
out of the modification of either the Education
Regulations or the Pharmacy Act by the competent
Legislature, namely, the Parliament, that no such
attempt was also made by the State of Legislature
and in the Jharkhand and unless a person was
qualified in terms of the Education Regulations, he
could not get his name entered in the Register. We
find considerable force in this submission. It is true
that the Jharkhand was carved out with effect from
15.11.2000. By virtue of Section 84 of the Bihar
Reorganization Act, the Pharmacy Act and the
Education Regulations applied. In the absence of
any modification, alternation or repeal of either the
Act or the Education Regulations by the competent
Legislature, it could not be postulated that the law
had ceased to be in force merely on the formation of
the State of Jharkhand. Section 84 of the Bihar
Reorganization Act, in our view, is clear. Moreover,
it is not possible for the Court to contemplate a law
less State as it were. If the argument of the
Respondents were to be accepted, the position
would be that there was no law relating to
Pharmacy or regarding qualifications for getting
recognition as a Pharmacist in the State of
Jharkhand and it is yet to be made. In other words,
until the same is made there will be a vacuum.

Such an argument, unless compelled, can not be
acceptable. The territories now forming the State of
Jharkhand originally formed part of the State of
Bihar, were governed by the Act and the Education
regulations promulgated and adopted in terms of
Section 85 of the Bihar Reorganization Act. This
scheme of the Reorganization Act is consistent with
the general principle that a law once made
applicable to a territory will continue to apply to
that territory unless its application is abrogated or
dispensed with by the competent Legislature or
authority or its replacement by any other law
155

enacted in that behalf. Therefore, it is clear that
Education Regulations promulgated under Section
10 and adopted in terms of Section 11 of the Act to
the territory in question, continues to apply. There
is also the stand adopted by the Indian pharmacy
Council in its additional counter affidavit. We find
the said stand sustainable in law‘.‖

125. Before this Court, it was contended that every State has to

have a First Register of the pharmacists on its own as mandated in

Sections 30 and 31 of the Act which is an express provision and if

the interpretation given by the Court is accepted, the said provision

will become redundant. Adverting to the provisions of the Act and

the earlier Regulations, a two-Judge Bench held:-

―25. The Article 3 of the Constitution inter alia, empowers
the Parliament by law to form a new State by separation
of territory from any State or by uniting two or more
States. Article 4 is to the effect that the law made by the
Parliament with reference to Article 3 may contain
supplemental, consequential and incidental provisions.
When a new State is formed by law made by Parliament,
whether the laws made by the existing State out of which
a new State is formed continue to apply to the territories
included in the new State? When the existing State
territory is reorganized by the Parliament there is no
change in Sovereignty. It is only adjustment of territories
by transferring some territories in the existing State to a
newly formed State. Therefore, all the laws which were
applicable to the territories of the re-organized State
would continue to apply to the territories transferred to
the new State until the latter either adapts or, subject to
156

its competency amends or repeals the existing and
applicable laws.‖

126. Be it noted, the Court placed reliance on Balbir Singh (supra)

and Sher Singh and others v. Financial Commissioner of

Planning, Punjab and others24 and proceeded to rule:-

―35. When a State as forming part of Indian nation is re-
organized, in law in so far as application of laws is
concerned, the following three things would happen
namely; (i) the existing State (Parent State) which made
various laws, would continue to exist; (ii) the new State
so formed by transferring some territories will be deemed
to be the territories of the parent State for the purpose of
applicability of the laws; and (iii) those laws made by
parent State shall continue to apply to new State until
they are modified or amended by a competent legislature
in relation to new State and the ‗law‘ as defined in the
definition Clause would be the law which was in force in
the existing State which would be enforceable in the
newly formed State.

36. At the cost of repetition, we may mention that
under Article 3 of the Constitution the Parliament can
alter, amend, amalgamate, form new States, diminish or
increase area of a State. The principle of ‗clean slate‘ as
applicable in international law is not applicable when
reorganization takes place under Article 3 of the
Constitution. 17 The reorganized States do not usually
start as tabula rasa, rather they are successors of a pre-

existing erstwhile States. Under the BROA, the
Jharkhand was carved out of the Bihar and the two
separate states came into existence on 15.11.2000. If the
laws in force were to lapse on the day the division was
effected, a chaotic situation would have emerged
24 (1987) 2 SCC 439
157

inasmuch as the newly created State would be rendered
a State without laws. To avoid such situation, provisions
like Sections 84 and 85 of BROA have been enacted to
maintain continuity, and at the same time authorizing
the States to make such modifications and adaptations
as are considered necessary by mere issuance of orders
within two years, and thereafter by legislation.

37. As defined earlier ‗law‘ includes ‗other instruments
having the force of law‘. In view of use of the word
‗includes‘, the definition of ‗law‘ under Section 2(f) shall
be interpreted exhaustively. In view of the above
discussion, we hold that the First Register prepared by
the Bihar has the force of law Supra, at 13 under Section
2(f) of the BROA.‖

127. In the present case, the two provisions, namely, Sections 107

and 119 of the Reorganization Act of 1956 unequivocally spell out

the continuance of the assets and liabilities. That apart, the new

State of Mysore after 1956 recognised and enforced the agreement

and, in any case, did not repudiate it. And in all possibilities, the

State could not have done it as it related to inter-State waters and

the Parliament in the Reorganisation Act did not make any law in

that regard.

128. It may be noted here that the Tribunal has referred to Section

2(m) defining ―Principal Successors State‖, Section 2(o) defining

―successor State‖ and Section 5 to conclude that the State of Kerala

had become the principal successor State to the erstwhile State of
158

Travancore-Cochin excluding the territories transferred to the State

of Madras and also a successor State in respect of the territories

which were transferred from Madras and, therefore, the agreements

would be binding on it, as the Cauvery basin including the portion

of rivers Kabini and Bhawani were in the Malabar District, which

had been transferred to it. It also referred to Section 87 of the

Reorganisation Act, whereunder any contract made by an existing

State before the appointed day in the exercise of its executive power

was deemed to have been made in the exercise of such power of the

successor State or States or the principal successor State, as the

case may be. With reference thereto, the Tribunal analyzed that the

Agreements of 1892 and 1924 entered into by Madras with the then

State of Mysore were, therefore, deemed to have been entered into

on behalf of the areas which were within the territories of the State

of Madras including the District of Malabar and, consequently, the

rights and liabilities which had accrued to Madras as an existing

State with regard thereto would be the rights and liabilities of the

successor State, i.e., the State of Kerala. The Tribunal also

concluded that the State of Kerala would be deemed to be bound by
159

the terms and conditions of the two Agreements so far as the

sharing of the waters of river Cauvery was concerned.

129. The finding of the Tribunal is seriously assailed on behalf of

the State of Karnataka on the ground that in a State where different

boundaries came into existence, the agreements could not be

allowed to remain in continuance. Sections 2(e), 2(j), 2(m) and 2(o),

which are relevant in the present context, read thus:-

―Section 2(e) "corresponding State" means, in relation to
the new State of Bombay, Madhya Pradesh, Mysore,
Punjab or Rajasthan, the existing State with the same
name, and in relation to the new State of Kerala, the
existing State of Travancore-Cochin;

(j) "notified order" means an order published in the
Official Gazette;

(m) "principal successor State" means—

(i) in relation to the existing State of Bombay, Madhya
Pradesh, Madras or Rajasthan, the State with the same
name; and

(ii) in relation to the existing States of Hyderabad,
Madhya Bharat and Travancore Cochin, the States of
Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala,
respectively;

(o) "successor State", in relation to an existing State,
means any State to which the whole or any part of the
territories of that existing State is transferred by the
provisions of Part II, and includes in relation to the
existing State of Madras, also that State as territorially
altered by the said provisions and the Union;‖
160

130. Section 108 which has been relied upon by Mr. Dwivedi,

learned senior counsel for the State of Tami Nadu, is as follows:-

―Section 108. Continuance of agreements and
arrangements relating to certain irrigation, power or
multi- purpose projects.─(1) Any agreement or
arrangement entered into between the Central
Government and one or more existing States or between
two or more existing States relating to─

(a) the administration, maintenance and operation of
any project executed before the appointed day, or

(b) the distribution of benefits, such as, the right to
receive and utilise water or electric power, to be derived
as a result of the execution of such project,

which was subsisting immediately before the appointed
day shall continue in force, subject to such adaptations
and modifications, if any (being of a character not
affecting the general operation of the agreement or
arrangement) as may be agreed upon between the
Central Government and the successor State concerned
or between the successor States concerned, as the case
may be, by the Ist day of November, 1957 , or, if no
agreement is reached by the said date, as may be made
therein by order of the Central Government.

(2) Where a project concerning one or more of the existing
States affected by the provisions of Part II has been taken
in hand, but not completed, or has been accepted by the
Government of India for inclusion in the Second Five
Year Plan before the appointed day, neither the scope of
the project nor the provisions relating to its
administration, maintenance or operation or to the
161

distribution of benefits to be derived from it shall be
varied, ─

(a) in the case where a single successor State is
concerned with the project after the appointed day,
except with the previous approval of the Central
Government, and

(b) in the case where two or more successor States are
concerned with the project after that day, except by
agreement between those successor States, or if no
agreement is reached, except in such manner as the
Central Government may by order direct,

and the Central Government may from time to time give
such directions as may appear to it to be necessary for
the due completion of the project and for its
administration, maintenance and operation thereafter.

(3) In this section, the expression" project" means a
project for the promotion of irrigation, water supply or
drainage or for the development of electric power or for
the regulation or development of any inter- State river or
river valley.‖

Section 119 of the Reorganisation Act, 1956 reads as under:-

―Section 119. Territorial extent of laws.―The
provisions of Part II shall not be deemed to have effected
any change in the territories to which any law in force
immediately before the appointed day extends or applies,
and territorial references in any such law to an existing
State shall, until otherwise provided by a competent
Legislature or other competent authority, be construed as
meaning the territories within that State immediately
before the appointed day.‖
162

131. Impressing thereon, it is submitted by Mr. Dwivedi that the

aforesaid provisions by operation of law made the 1924 Agreement

recognisable and implementable. According to him, the rights and

liabilities under the 1924 Agreement are constitutionally continued

with and vest in Mysore as Part B State under Article 295(2) of the

Constitution. Article 295 reads as under:-

―Article 295. Succession to property, assets, rights,
liabilities and obligations in other cases
(1) As from the commencement of this Constitution

(a) all property and assets which immediately before
such commencement were vested in any Indian State
corresponding to a State specified in Part B of the First
Schedule shall vest in the Union, if the purposes for
which such property and assets were held immediately
before such commencement will thereafter be purposes
of the Union relating to any of the matters enumerated
in the Union List, and

(b) all rights, liabilities and obligations of the
Government of any Indian State corresponding to a
State specified in Part B of the First Schedule, whether
arising out of any contract or otherwise, shall be the
rights, liabilities and obligations of the Government of
India, if the purposes for which such rights were
acquired or liabilities or obligations were incurred
before such commencement will thereafter be purposes
of the Government of commencement will thereafter be
purposes of the Government of India relating to any of
the matters enumerated in the Union List,
subject to any agreement entered into in that behalf by the
Government of India with the Government of that State
163

(2) Subject as aforesaid, the Government of each State
specified in Part B of the First Schedule shall, as from the
commencement of this Constitution, be the successor of
the Government of the corresponding Indian State as
regards all property and assets and all rights, liabilities
and obligations, whether arising out of any contract or
otherwise, other than those referred to in clause (1).‖

132. Emphasis has been laid on Article 295(2). According to Mr.

Dwivedi, under the Reorganisation Act, the existing rights and

liabilities and the existing laws continue to be enforced and

continue to be binding upon the successor State so long as they are

not modified, changed or repudiated by the successor State. It is

his further submission that in the case of Mysore, the territories of

Part B Mysore and Coorg alone are in the Cauvery Basin and the

laws operating in part B Mysore qua sharing of Cauvery waters

secured for Mysore under the 1924 Agreement would continue. If

the interest of Coorg was to be secured after the formation of new

Mysore State, the provisions of Sections 107 and 119 covered the

same. He has propounded that neither the Union Government nor

the State of Mysore acted otherwise and the agreement continued to

remain in force.

133. We may clearly state here that nothing has been brought on

record to show that any dispute was raised after the Reorganisation
164

Act by the newly formed States to controvert the agreement. As the

facts clearly depict, it continued. Mr. Dwivedi, in this regard, would

contend that the State of Karnataka had waived its right to question

the legal tenability of the agreement and keeping in view the

concept of waiver, the Tribunal has also adverted to the same and

accepted. We do not think that this aspect needs to be reverted to,

for it remains a fact that both the agreements with the Regulations

remained in force despite coming into effect of the

Reorganisation Act, 1956.

L. Issue relating to expiry of the agreements

134. It is submitted by Mr. Nariman, learned senior counsel, that

the 1924 Agreement was not an agreement requiring a positive or

affirmative act by either of the states to go ahead with revocation

but, on the contrary, to arrive at a common consensus for its

continuance and if the clauses of the Agreement are studiedly

scrutinized or appreciated as an instrument as a whole, its life span

is 50 years and the same could not have continued, by any stretch

of imagination, after the expiry of the stipulated period. He would

argue that the Constitution Bench in the Presidential Reference has
165

twice stated that both the agreements have expired and no

application for review or modification was filed by the State of Tamil

Nadu and rightly so, as anyone connected with the agreement was

well aware that the agreements stood expired. The said submission

of Mr. Nariman is seriously resisted by Mr. Naphade and Mr.

Dwivedi, learned senior counsel, on the foundation of the

Presidential Reference answered in In Re: Presidential Reference

(Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal) (supra). It is further urged

that the issue did not arise as regards the expiry of the agreements

and the Court has not addressed to it and, therefore, it cannot be

regarded or treated as a decision on the said issue. Learned senior

counsel would contend that merely because the expression has

been used that the agreements had expired, that should not be

given the status of the ratio of the judgment.

135. The second plank of the argument of Mr. Nariman in this

regard is that even assuming that the decision of the Constitution

Bench is not treated as binding for the purpose of expiration of the

term of the Agreement, the clauses in the Agreement explicitly show

that the 1924 Agreement comes to an end after the expiry of 50

years. For the said purpose, emphasis is laid on the language
166

employed in Clause 10(xi) of the Agreement. We have already

reproduced the agreement and, therefore, at this stage, it is apt to

reflect on how the Tribunal has understood the Agreement. On a

reading of the award, it is noticeable that the Tribunal has analyzed

in detail the various clauses of the said Agreement with the mutual

rights and obligations as specified therein and focused, in

particular, on clause 10 (xi) which contemplated a process of

reconsideration on the expiry of 50 years from the date of its

execution.

136. The Tribunal, in the context of the rival contentions on the

subsistence or otherwise of the Agreement on the expiry of 50 years

from its execution, minutely noted that undisputedly there had

been no re-consideration by the two States on the question of

modification or addition in respect of the different terms and

conditions as mentioned therein, after the said period. It referred

as well to the plea of the State of Tamil Nadu that as per clause

10(xi), the reconsideration, if any, was limited only to the

stipulations in clauses 10(iv) to 10(viii) and not qua clause 10(ii)

which enjoined the Mysore Government to regulate the discharge to

and from the Krishna Raja Sagara reservoir strictly in accordance
167

with the Rules of Regulation set for in Annexure I thereto. The

Tribunal, however, on a scrutiny of the relevant clauses and on a

juxtaposition thereof, negated the said plea and held that clause

10(ii) was inter-linked with clauses 10(iv) to clause 10(viii) and

could not be dissociated from each other. In arriving at this

determination, the Tribunal noted the areas of irrigation permitted

to be undertaken by the two Governments with the liberty to extend

the same subject to the ceiling as mentioned and laid emphasis on

the enjoinments contained in clause 10(vii) in particular and held

that if after 50 years in terms of clause 10(xi), the limitation and

arrangements specified in clause 10(iv) to clause 10(viii) were to be

considered, then the limitations prescribed by the rules of

regulation for Krishna Raja Sagara reservoir forming Annexure 1 of

the Agreement and alluded to in clause 10(vii) could not be

excluded from the purview of such reconsideration. The Tribunal

thought that this is more so as in terms of clause 10(vii), the

Mysore Government had agreed that extension of irrigation in its

territories as specified in clause (iv) would be carried out only by

means of reservoirs constructed on the River Cauvery and in its

tributaries mentioned in Schedule A of the 1892 Agreement; such
168

reservoirs were to be of an effective capacity of 45,000 million cubic

ft. in aggregate; impounding therein was to be so regulated as not to

make any material diminution in supply recorded by the gauge

accepted in the Rules of Regulation for the Krishna Raja Sagara

reservoir forming Annexure I to the Agreement and the rules for

working such reservoirs were to be so framed as to reduce any loss

during the impounding period within 5%, by adoption of suitable

proportion factors, impounding formula or such other means as

was to be settled. The Tribunal referred to the notes of arguments

produced on behalf of the State of Tamil Nadu before it which

indicated that the average inflow into Mettur for 38 years from 1934

- 1935 was 377.1 TMC serviced by three sources with the following

break ups:

―(i) From KRS, as per Rules of Regulation of KRS
Annexure 1 of 1924 Agreement - 159.780 TMC

(ii) From Kabini - 112.615 TMC

(iii) Contribution for intermediate catchment below
KRS and below Hullahalli Anicut in Kabini including
25 TMC from catchment area above Mettur in Tamil
Nadu -104.746 TMC
Total – 377.141 TMC‖

137. It observed that if reconsideration was to be limited only to the
169

arrangement as set out in clauses 10(iv) to (viii), then the logical

consequence would be that in the event of any modification, it

would not be possible for the State of Karnataka to comply with the

requirement of clause 10(ii) read with Rules 7 and 10 of the Rules of

Regulation only on the basis of discharge from Krishna Raja Sagara

reservoir. The Tribunal, thus, held that whenever a dispute was

raised, it was to be examined in the light of the conditions

prescribed not only in clauses 10 (iv) to 10 (viii) but also in the light

of the obligation and mandate provided on the part of the State of

Mysore/Karnataka to follow the Rules of Regulation for Krishna

Raja Sagara reservoir as contained in clause 10(ii).

138. On the plea that the 1924 Agreement, in the absence of

reconsideration, as envisaged in clause 10(xi), had expired, an

eventuality noticed by this Court in In Re: Presidential Reference

(Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal) (supra) wherein the validity of

the Karnataka Cauvery Basin Irrigation Protection Ordinance 1991

had been laid for scrutiny in a reference under Article 143 of the

Constitution, the Tribunal apart from observing that the question of

subsistence or otherwise of the Agreement was not an issue before

this Court in the said reference, also marked that in the complaint
170

before it under adjudication, the principal grievance of the State of

Tamil Nadu was contravention and violation of the terms thereof

which, according to it, remained in force even after the expiry of 50

years from the execution thereof. It also referred, the initiatives and

endeavours of the two States in this regard with the intervention of

the Union Minister for Irrigation and Power and the participation of

the Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu, Mysore and Kerala along with

others for an amicable resolution of the lingering differences which,

inter alia, contemplated a fact finding Committee of Engineers,

agricultural experts, retired Judges, etc. to collect data pertaining to

Cauvery waters, its utilization and irrigation practices and to

examine the adequacy of the supplies or excessive use of water for

irrigation purposes to be placed for further discussions to arrive at

an agreed allocation of waters for the respective States. The

Tribunal underlined that nowhere in the discussions, it had been

the stand on behalf of the State of Mysore that after 50 years of the

execution of the Agreement, it would expire and as such there

would be no question of reviewing the terms thereof.

139. The plea of the State of Mysore that the proviso to clause

10(xiv) per se spelt the automatic termination of the whole of the
171

Agreement after the expiry of 50 years, was negatived in view of the

interplay of clauses 10 (xiv) and (xi).

140. The Tribunal, as we find, has accepted the plea and stand of

the State of Tamil Nadu that the 1924 Agreement did not expire in

1974.

141. It is necessary to reflect on the finding of the Tribunal on this

score. The Tribunal noticed the rival orientations of the two States

with regard to the status of the Agreement on the expiry of 50 years

from the date of its execution. It recorded the stand of the State of

Karnataka that the agreement expired after the expiry of the period

of 50 years from the date of its execution so much so that none of

the clauses therein were enforceable in respect of discharges to be

made from Krishna Raja Sagara and other reservoirs of the

tributaries of Cauvery which were under construction in Karnataka.

It took note of the contrary plea of Tamil Nadu that the agreement

was permanent in nature and that all the terms therein were

binding on Mysore, that is on the State of Karnataka in respect of

the operation of Krishna Raja Sagara and other reservoirs

constructed on the tributaries of river Cauvery. The Tribunal

recorded the plea of the State of Karnataka that not only the
172

Agreement of 1924 expired in the year 1974 but also the terms of

the Agreement dated 1892 as well as of 1924 were arbitrary in

nature and inequitable between the State of Madras which was then

a Presidency State and as such part of the British Territory and the

State of Mysore which was then under the Ruler. Tracing the

history of the two agreements and that of 1924 in particular, the

Tribunal was of the view that the latter agreement was entered into

only after the terms thereof had been fully examined by the two

States with special attention to the aspect as to whether the new

irrigation reservoir was likely to diminish the flow of river Cauvery

to the territory of Madras State in any manner. In the context of the

cavil of the State of Karnataka that the then State of Mysore had to

enter into both the agreements under some compulsions and that

the stringent stipulations contained therein, amongst others,

defining the limits under which no irrigation works were to be

constructed by Mysore without the previous consent of Madras and

that the rigorous restrictions in respect of impounding of water of

Krishna Raja Sagara as well as other reservoirs to be constructed

on the tributaries of river Cauvery with the rider of maintaining a

minimum flow of Cauvery at the Upper Anicut so as to maintain a
173

height of water level ranging between 3 ft. to 7 ½ ft. during January

to June did spell great hardship, the Tribunal delved into the time

phase chapter pertaining to the Treaty of 1799 entered into between

the then East India Company and the Maharaja of Mysore

whereupon the possession of the Mysore State was handed over to

the then Maharaja. It marked, inter alia, the undertaking of the

then Maharaja of Mysore that he would abstain from any

interference in the affairs of any state in alliance with the English

Company Bahadur and would not enter into any communication or

correspondence with any foreign State without the previous

knowledge or sanction of any English Company Bahadur. The

Tribunal noted as well the similar restrictions in the Instrument of

Transfer of 1881, apart from preserving in the Governor General in

Council, several powers including the one to resume possession of

the said territories and to assume direct administration thereof.

142. While noticing the plea of Karnataka that after the Treaty of

1799, with the advent of East India Company as well, the

administration of Mysore had been taken away by it, and the

possession of the State was eventually handed over to the then

Maharaja on 25.03.1881, and that thus the British Crown was
174

apparently exercising its paramount power over the ruling State of

Mysore for which, as a feudatory State, it was really under a

compulsion to subject itself to the constraints prescribed under the

Agreement, the Tribunal observed that International Agreements as

well as Inter-state Agreements cannot be examined at a later stage

on the touchstone of whether the terms were just and proper,

keeping the interest of both the Nations or the States at the time of

execution thereof. While acknowledging that sometimes,

compulsions existing at the time of execution of the Agreements

may be factors for adopting the spirit of give and take on the part

of one Nation or the State, it concluded qua the Agreements of 1892

and 1924 that those could not be challenged as being done after a

lapse of more than 100 years so far as the Agreement of the year

1892 is concerned and 80 years qua the Agreement of 1924 by the

State of Karnataka being the successor of the interest of the State of

Mysore. The Tribunal recorded that this was more so as the State of

Mysore/Karnataka had complied with the terms of the Agreements

scrupulously and religiously up to 1974 and the dispute surfaced

only after the expiry of the period of 50 years as contemplated in

Clause 10(xi) of the Agreement of 1924. It remarked as well that on
175

the basis of the Agreement of 1924, the State of Mysore/Karnataka

not only constructed the Krishna Raja Sagara Project but also other

reservoirs on the tributaries of Cauvery within its territories for a

total capacity of 45,000 million cubic ft. (45 TMC) and thereby

derived the benefit of construction of those reservoirs on the river

Cauvery and its tributaries and, thus, it cannot be allowed to

repudiate the agreements on the principle of ―qui approbat non

reprobat” (one who approbates cannot reprobate). The Tribunal

construed that though an agreement can be challenged in terms of

Section 19A of the Indian Contract Act, yet the party concerned had

to satisfy the Court at the appropriate stage that its consent was

obtained by coercion, fraud, misrepresentation or undue influence

and that noticeably, during the period of more than 50 years since

18.02.1924, after which according to the State of Karnataka, the

said Agreement had come to an end, it did never allege before any

court of law that the said Agreement was either voidable or that it

was not bound by it for any of the infirmities as envisaged in

Sections 19 and 19A of the Indian Contract Act. It recalled in

reinforcement of this view the backdrop of the Agreement which

evinced that the competent authorities on behalf of both the States,
176

after proper application of mind and discussion, had endorsed and

executed both these documents and, thus, these could not be

ignored and discarded being not void in the eye of law.

143. The aforesaid finding of the Tribunal is seriously found fault

with by Mr. Nariman on the ground that the Tribunal should have

proceeded on the basis of the language employed in the instrument.

Regard being had to the said submission, we think it appropriate to

reproduce Clause 10(xi), though it has already been extracted

hereinbefore:-

―10 (xi) The Mysore Government and the Madras
Government further agree that the limitations and
arrangements embodied in clauses (iv) to (viii) supra shall
at the expiry of fifty years from the date of the execution
of these presents, be open to reconsideration in the light
of the experience gained and of an examination of the
possibilities of the further extension of irrigation within
the territories of the respective Governments and to such
modifications and additions as may be mutually agreed
upon as the result of such reconsideration.‖

[Underlining is ours]

144. The said clause requires studied scrutiny. It stipulates that

both the States agreed that the limitations and arrangements

embodied in Clauses (iv) to (viii) shall, at the expiry of 50 years from

the date of execution, be open to reconsideration in the light of the
177

experience gained and upon examination of the possibilities of

further extension of irrigation within the territories of the respective

States be subject to such modification and additions as may be

mutually agreed upon as the result of such reconsideration. The

submission of Mr. Nariman and Mr. Katarki appearing for the State

of Karnataka is that the postulates in the clause have to be read as

a whole and not in a truncated sense. According to them, the

stipulations in Clauses (iv) to (viii) would be open for

reconsideration taking into stock certain facts and circumstances

and only thereafter, the modification and additions can be mutually

agreed to. Emphasis is laid on the word ‗reconsideration‘. It is also

argued by them that the stipulation in Clause (xi) cannot be

restricted to Clauses (iv) to (viii) as those clauses constitute the

spine of the Agreement. It is their argument that the other clauses

in the Agreement are so interdependent with the mentioned clauses

that the others cannot be excluded or eschewed. The intention of

the parties is quite clear that the experience has to be seen in 50

years and thereafter, the whole thing is to be called for

reconsideration and reconsideration cannot be unilateral or, for

that matter, automatic.

178

145. Controverting the same, it is urged by Mr. Naphade and

Mr. Dwivedi, learned senior counsel for the State of Tamil Nadu,

that the clause applies in part essentially what has been mentioned

therein and cannot cover the whole agreement. They emphasized

on the words that the life of the Agreement is not limited to 50 years

but only meant for reconsideration for the purpose of reexamination

and that does not put an end to the Agreement.

146. Having perused the clause in entirety and considering the

words, namely, ‗reconsideration‘, mutually agreed upon‘ and ‗be

open to‘, it is clear that certain clauses in the Agreement had a

restricted life span.

147. We are inclined to think so inasmuch as the relevant clauses

which are open to reconsideration are absolutely essential parts of

the contract and it is extremely difficult to place appropriate

construction on the contract without them. The clauses in the

contract do not indicate permanency but, on the contrary, indicate

fixed term and that is how we intend to construe the same. The

continuance of contract, as we find, was further a subjective

consideration and merely agreed upon and, therefore, to hold that it
179

continued solely because of the experience gathered would not be

appropriate and it would be contrary to the concept of

understanding the clauses in a contract to give effect to its

continuance. The continuance after 50 years was dependent on

certain aspects and, therefore, we have no hesitation in holding that

the agreement expired after 50 years. The submission on behalf of

the State of Tamil Nadu is that the obligations of the contract

continued but, in this context, it is worth noting that the parties to

the agreement had entered into correspondence with the Central

Government agitating their grievances and they met at the various

levels to discuss and to arrive at an acceptable arrangement. That

not having been accepted, the complaint was lodged. Taking into

consideration the entire conspectus of facts and circumstances, we

hold that the agreement expired after 50 years in the year 1974.

M. Did the complaint not require any adjudication?

148. It is submitted by Mr. Nariman that the manner in which the

complaint had been lodged and a request had been made for

referring the dispute that had arisen between the States of

Karnataka and Tamil Nadu was not statutorily entertainable.
180

According to him, the foundation of the complaint is the 1892 and

1924 Agreements and once they are treated to have expired, in the

absence of any other aspect being stated in the complaint, it does

not call for an adjudication by the Tribunal despite the matter

having been referred to the Tribunal for adjudication. To bolster

the said stand, he has relied upon the language employed in

Section 3 of the 1956 Act. Section 3 of the 1956 Act reads as

follows:-

―3. Complaints by State Governments as to water
disputes.—If it appears to the Government of any State
that a water dispute with the Government of another
State has arisen or is likely to arise by reason of the fact
that the interests of the State, or of any of the
inhabitants thereof, in the waters of an inter-State river
or river valley have been, or are likely to be, affected
prejudicially by—

(a) any executive action or legislation taken or passed, or
proposed to be taken or passed, by the other State; or

(b) the failure of the other State or any authority therein
to exercise any of their powers with respect to the use,
distribution or control of such waters; or

(c) the failure of the other State to implement the terms of
any agreement relating to the use, distribution or control
of such waters,
the State Government may, in such form and manner as
may be prescribed, request the Central Government to
refer the water dispute to a Tribunal for adjudication.‖
181

149. Relying on the said provision, it is urged by Mr. Nariman that

there is no assertion with regard to either the State of Tamil Nadu

or its inhabitants being prejudicially affected in any other manner

except the agreement and, then, the conditions precedent as

postulated in clauses (a), (b) and (c) of Section 3 are not met with.

He has referred to issues 8, 10, 40 and 43 by the Tribunal on

prejudicial affectation and stated that the Tribunal has not recorded

any finding that the State of Tamil Nadu has been prejudicially

affected within the sphere of Section 3. On the contrary, it has held

that the issue regarding prescriptive right of Madras has become

academic and the injury caused to each State at one stage or the

other by the conduct of the other State has become a matter of

history and it is not easy to assess any injury in an irrigation

dispute. Learned senior counsel would further submit that the

State of Tamil Nadu did not plead for a claim to any right which is

conferred on it by the two agreements either in its complaint or on

the statement of case before the Tribunal. The complaint deserves

to be dismissed in the absence of proven injury. Mr. Naphade and

Mr. Dwivedi, learned senior counsel being assisted by Mr. G.
182

Umapathy, learned counsel, in their turn, would contend with

vehemence that such a contention at this stage is absolutely

specious and should not engage the attention of this Court even for

a moment. They would submit that the series of meetings and the

correspondence that had commenced in the beginning of the 70s of

the last century would speak eloquently about the inhabitants

being prejudicially affected and further the various issues raised

clearly exposit the grievances of the inhabitants of the State of

Tamil Nadu. Additionally, it is contended by them that even if a

finding is returned that the agreements have expired, rights had

been created under the agreements and till they remain in force and

also thereafter till the date of reference and more so when such a

plea was not raised when reference was made to this Court under

Article 143 of the Constitution, the said plea should be negatived.

150. The aforesaid submission advanced by the State of Karnataka

should not detain us for long. On a perusal of the complaint, it

does not contain the words ―prejudicially affected‘ but the

antecedents of the complaint, the view of the Central Government

while referring water dispute and the expression of opinion of this

Court In Re: Presidential Reference (Cauvery Water Disputes
183

Tribunal) (supra). In the backdrop of the language of the 1956 Act,

the expiration by the efflux of time and the role of this Court, we are

not inclined to entertain such a plea. We must say without any

hesitation that it may, in the first blush, have the potentiality to

invite the intellectual interaction but the same fails to gain

significance when one perceives the controversy from a broader

perspective and the various orders passed from time to time by the

Tribunal and by this Court. Therefore, the matter deserves to be

adjudicated on merits.

N. The approach adopted by the Tribunal post 1974 and
correctness of the same

151. On a perusal of the award, it appears that the Tribunal, after

coming to hold that the 1974 agreement is valid which we have not

accepted, noted the submissions of the State of Karnataka, Tamil

Nadu and Kerala and Union Territory of Puducherry. The State of

Karnataka, on 10.07.2002, has made the following submissions

before the Tribunal which is to the following effect:-

―60. The State of Karnataka in its Note KAR 3, page 10,
filed on 10.07.2002, has taken the stand that ―any future
determination post-1974 would have to be made on the
following basis:-

184

(a) how much water is needed to irrigate the areas to
which Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are entitled, under the
Agreement; and

(b) how should the surplus be divided and distributed for
the planned areas of Karnataka and for the areas
cultivated by Tamil Nadu (outside the Agreement of
1924). It is respectfully submitted that all areas
contemplated to be irrigated under the Agreement of
1924 are concerned – whether by Tamil Nadu or by
Karnataka, they have first to be taken into account as
committed uses or existing uses. The remaining areas
should be considered on the principles of equitable
apportionment that are well settled and on the evidence
led before this Hon‘ble Tribunal.‖

152. The Tribunal, which had taken the view that the Agreements

of 1892 and 1924 are valid and enforceable, alternatively suggested

the apportionment of Cauvery waters on the following basis:-

―(i) Protection of irrigated areas as existing prior to 1924
both in Karnataka as well as Tamil Nadu.

(ii) The development of irrigation as contemplated in the
1924 agreement but actually developed before 1974.

(iii) All other development to be considered as per
different priorities suggested by them, indicated later on
in the report.‖

153. After so noting, the Tribunal opined that before the

requirement of water is examined, the two States have to determine

the areas which have been adopted by the two States. The areas

where the States of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala and Union

Territory of Puducherry have to be served by the Cauvery System
185

for irrigation are required to be considered. The principles for

consideration were formulated by the Tribunal which are as

follows:-

―(i) Areas which were developed before the agreement of
the year 1924

(ii) Areas which have been contemplated for development
in terms of the agreement of the year 1924.

(iii) Areas which have been developed outside the
agreement from 1924 upto 2.6.1990, the date of the
constitution of the Tribunal. (i.e. from 1924 to 1990)

(iv) Areas which may be allowed to be irrigated on the
principle of equitable apportionment.‖

154. On a perusal of the aforesaid, it is noticed that the Tribunal

has taken the cut-off date as 02.06.1990, the date on which the

reference/complaint was made. In the course of the hearing,

learned counsel for all the parties accepted that they do not have

any kind of quarrel over the determination by the said date.

155. Having stated thus, we have to analyze the approach adopted

by the Tribunal on the basis of the same. Prior to that it is

necessary to reflect on what the Court has said in the Presidential

Reference. At this stage, we must note with profit that the Court

had noted that the 1924 Agreement had expired. After the Court
186

held that the agreement had expired and further that the legislation

passed by the State of Karnataka was ultra vires, it proceeded to

state thus:-

―71. It will be pertinent at this stage also to note the true
legal position about the inter-State river water and the
rights of the riparian States to the same. In State of
Kansas v. State of Colorado the Supreme Court of the
United States has in this connection observed as follows:

―One cardinal rule, underlying all the relations of the
States to each other, is that of equality of right. Each
State stands on the same level with all the rest. It can
impose its own legislation on no one of the others, and is
bound to yield its own views to none … the action of one
State reaches, through the agency of natural laws, into
the territory of another State, the question of the extent
and the limitations of the rights of the two States
becomes a matter of justiciable dispute between them
and this Court is called upon to settle that dispute in
such a way as will recognise the equal rights of both and
at the same time establish justice between them.

The dispute is of a justiciable nature to be adjudicated
by the Tribunal and is not a matter for legislative
jurisdiction of one State ….

‗The right to flowing water is now well settled to be a
right incident to property in the land; it is a right publici
juris, of such character that, whilst it is common and
equal to all through whose land it runs, and no one can
obstruct or divert it, yet, as one of the beneficial gifts of
Providence, each proprietor has a right to a just and
reasonable use of it, as it passes through his land, and
so long as it is not wholly obstructed or diverted, or no
larger appropriation of the water running through it is
187

made than a just and reasonable use, it cannot be said to
be wrongful or injurious to a proprietor lower down ….‘

The right to the use of flowing water is publici juris,
and common to all the riparian proprietors; it is not an
absolute and exclusive right to all the water flowing past
their land, so that any obstruction would give a cause of
action; but it is a right to the flow and enjoyment of the
water, subject to a similar right in all the proprietors, to
the reasonable enjoyment of the same gift of Providence.
It is, therefore, only for an abstraction and deprivation of
this common benefit, or for an unreasonable and
unauthorised use of it that an action will lie.‖

72. Though the waters of an inter-State river pass
through the territories of the riparian States such waters
cannot be said to be located in any one State. They are in
a state of flow and no State can claim exclusive
ownership of such waters so as to deprive the other
States of their equitable share. Hence in respect of such
waters, no state can effectively legislate for the use of
such waters since its legislative power does not extend
beyond its territories. It is further an acknowledged
principle of distribution and allocation of waters between
the riparian States that the same has to be done on the
basis of the equitable share of each State. What the
equitable share will be will depend upon the facts of each
case. It is against the background of these principles and
the provisions of law we have already discussed that we
have to examine the respective contentions of the
parties.‖

156. Though the aforesaid paragraphs were said in the context of

the legislative power, yet it meaningfully stated the legal position

about the Inter-State River Water and rights of the riparian States
188

in the same and further that the distribution and allocation of

waters between the riparian States has to be done on the basis of

equitable share of each State which will depend upon how the

quantum of equitable share is determined as per the facts of the

case.

157. The Tribunal referred to the decisions in State of Wyoming v.

State of Colorado25, State of Nebraska v. State of Wyoming26,

the report of the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal, Chapter XII,

page 98 under the heading of ―Protection of Existing Uses‖, the

report of Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal, the Report of Godavari

Water Disputes Tribunal, the Report of the Ravi and Beas Waters

Tribunal and noted thus:-

―16. There are three different views in respect of the
claims by different riparian States regarding sharing of
the water of an inter-State river or a river passing from
one nation to another:

(i) The first view proceeds on what is called the doctrine
of absolute territorial sovereignty commonly referred to
as ‗Harmon doctrine‘. According to this doctrine every
State is sovereign and has right to do whatever it likes
with the waters within its territorial jurisdiction
irrespective of injury that it might cause to the
neighbouring State by such appropriation and diversion.

25 259 US 419 (1922)
26 325 US 589 (1945)
189

(ii) The second view is based on the stand that lower
riparian State is entitled to water in its natural flow
without any diminution or interference or alteration in its
character.

During the last century both views had been propounded
– the first one by the upper riparian State and the second
by the lower riparian State. If it is examined by an
example, a State which is at the head of the river from
which the river initially passes then such State can
utilize and divert the water from the said river making
the lower riparian State starve, leading to the break-down
of the economy of such lower riparian State. Similarly, if
the second view is pushed to its logical end, then the
upper riparian State although may be in dire need of the
water of such inter-State river for agriculture and other
use shall be a mute spectator of the 14 water of such
inter-State river flowing from its territory to the lower
riparian State.

(iv) The third view is based on the principle of ―equitable
apportionment‖, that is to say that every riparian State is
entitled to a fair share of the water of an inter-State river
according to its need. Such a river has been provided by
nature for common benefit of the community as a whole
through whose territories it flows, even though those
territories may be divided by political frontiers.‖

158. Thereafter, the Tribunal referred to the decisions in Kansas v.

Colorado27, Colorado v. Kansas28, State of New Jersey v. State

of New York29, State of Connecticut v. Commonwealth of

27 206 US 46 (1906)
28 320 US 383 (1943)
29 283 US 336 (1931)
190

Massachusetts30, State of Colorado v. State of New Mexico31

and came to hold as follows:-

―24. It may be pointed out that in the Colorado v New
Mexico 459 US 176 (1982) known as Colorado I as well
as in Colorado v New Mexico 467 US at 310 (1984)
known as Colorado II there are explicit indications, to
consider future developments in equitably
apportioning a fully appropriated river. But it has been
pointed out in those opinions that any future
developments must not be inherently speculative in
nature and assessment is required to be made on the
benefits and harms of a future use.

25. It also appears that recent treaty between Canada
and the United States with regard to the Columbia
basin has discredited Harmon doctrine. Also in other
international disputes in respect of sharing of waters
of rivers flowing from the territory of one nation to
another, treaties have been entered which show that
different nations have adjusted their differences. The
Indus Treaty 1960, between India and Pakistan is an
example.

26. In Halsbury‘s Laws of England, Fourth Edition,
Volume 49(2) in paragraph 121 it has been said:

―121. Rights and duties as to quantity of water. The
right of a riparian owner to the flow of water is subject
to certain qualifications with respect to the quantity of
water which he is entitled to receive. The right is
subject to the similar rights of other riparian owners
on the same stream to the reasonable enjoyment of it,
and each riparian owner has a right of action in
respect of any unreasonable use of the water by
another riparian owner. A riparian owner must not use

30 282 US 660 (1931)
31 459 US 176 (1982)
191

and apply the water so as to cause any material injury
or annoyance to his neighbours opposite, above or
below him, who have equal rights to the use of the
water and an equal duty towards him.‖

159. At this juncture, it is worth noting the submissions advanced

by Mr. Katarki, learned senior counsel appearing for the State of

Karnataka and Mr. Naphade, learned senior counsel appearing for

the State of Tamil Nadu. It is submitted by Mr. Katarki that the

equitable share of water to be allocated to the party States had to be

based on needs rather than on the flow of the river. No State had

any right to the natural flow of an inter-state river and several

factors had to be considered while assessing the needs like basin

factors, drought area and population. He emphasized on the basic

aspects, namely, Natural Flow Theory and Helsinki Rules, 1966 and

placed reliance on the decision in New Jersey (supra) and other

authorities. Mr. Naphade, per contra, would contend that the

contention that there has to be an equal apportionment of water

between the two States is untenable. According to him, the

parameter of equality has to be understood from a different

perspective in a controversy giving rise to water dispute. He relied

upon the observation made by the Narmada and Krishna Water
192

Disputes Tribunals that the principle of equality did not imply that

there must be an equal division of water between the States but

instead meant that the States must have equal consideration and

equal economic opportunity. Such equality would not necessarily

result in the same quantity of water being provided to the parties.

160. The Tribunal has referred to the Helsinki Rules of 1966 that

has rejected the Harmon Doctrine and laid stress on the need of

equitable utilization of international rivers. The said Rules relate to

the use of waters of international rivers. Articles V, VI and VIII read

as follows:-

―Article V
(1) What is a reasonable and equitable share within the
meaning of Article IV is to be determined in the light of all
the relevant factors in each particular case.

(2) Relevant factors which are to be considered include,
but are not limited to:

(a) the geography of the basin, including in particular the
extent of the drainage area in the territory of each basin
State ;

(b) the hydrology of the basin, including in particular the
contribution of water by each basin State;

(c) the climate affecting the basin

(d) thepast utilization of the waters of the basin,
including in particular existing utilization;

193

(e) the economic and social needs of each basin State ;

(f) the population dependent on the waters of the basin in
each basin State;

(g) the comparative costs of alternative means of
satisfying file economic and social needs of each basin
State;

(h) the availability of other resource!;

(i) the avoidance of unnecessary waste in the utilization
of waters of the basin ;

(j) the practicability of compensation to one or more of
the co-basin States as a means of adjusting conflicts
among uses; and

(k) the degree to which the needs of a basin State may be
satisfied, without causing substantial injury to a co-basin
State;

(3) The weight to be given to each factor is to be
determined by its importance in comparison with that of
other relevant factors. In determining what is a
reasonable and equitable share, all relevant factors are to
be considered together and a conclusion reached on the
basis of the whole.

Article VI: A use or category of uses is not entitled to any
inherent preference over any other use or category of
uses.

Article VIII: 1. An existing reasonable use may continue
in operation unless the factors justifying its continuance
are outweighed by other factors leading to the conclusion
that it be modified or terminated so as to accommodate a
competing incompatible use.

2. (a) A use that is in fact operational is deemed to have
been an existing use from the time of the initiation of
construction directly related to the useor, where such
194

construction is not required, the undertaking of
comparable acts of actual implementation

(b) Such a use continues to be an existing use until such
time as it is discontinued with the intention that it be
abandonded.

3. A use will not be deemed an existing use if at the time
of becoming operational it is incompatible with an
already existing reasonable use.‖

161. On a perusal of the said Rules, it is clear as crystal that the

said Rules have not accepted the Harmon doctrine. It has, on the

contrary, laid emphasis on the need of equitable utilization of such

international rivers. It is noticeable from Articles IV and V of the

said Rules that they recognize equitable use of water by each basin

State, setting out the factors, not exhaustive though, to be

collectively taken into consideration for working out the reasonable

and equitable share of the riparian states. The indicated factors,

inter alia, include the geography of the basin, the hydrology of the

basin, the climate, past utilization of waters, economic and social

needs of each basin State, population dependent on the waters of

the basin in each basin State, availability of other resources and the

degree to which the needs of a basin State may be satisfied without

causing substantial injury to a co-basin State. The emphasis clearly

is that in determining the reasonable and equitable share, all
195

relevant factors are to be considered together and a conclusion is to

be reached on the whole.

162. In this regard, it is submitted by Mr. Nariman that the

allocation of water could be done equitably and in accordance with

justice by restoring equal rights to the party states. He submitted

that Karnataka and Tamil Nadu were co-equal States and that

justice had to be done to both while allocating water, a fact which

the Tribunal had failed to recognize. The Tribunal intertwined a

decision based on a void agreement with the doctrine of equitable

apportionment contrary to the law laid down in In Re: Presidential

Reference (supra). He submitted that the various applicable factors

set out in the Helsinki Rules, 1966 were more or less evenly

balanced between the two States. Further, based on the maxim that

equality was equity, the balance water available after subtracting

the share of the smaller States, i.e., Kerala and Puducherry and

after accounting for wastage ought to be divided equally between

Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

163. In this context, we may refer to the dictionary clause of the

1956 Act. Section 2(c) defines ‗water dispute‘. It reads as under:-
196

―2(c) ―water dispute‖ means any dispute or difference
between two or more State Governments with respect
to—

(i) the use, distribution or control of the waters of, or in,
any inter-State river or river valley; or

(ii) the interpretation of the terms of any agreement
relating to the use, distribution or control of such waters
or the implementation of such agreement; or

(iii) the levy of any water rate in contravention of the
prohibition contained in section 7.‖

164. Section 3 deals with complaint by the State Government as to

water disputes. The said provision is extracted below:-

―3. Complaints by State Governments as to water
disputes.—If it appears to the Government of any State
that a water dispute with the Government of another
State has arisen or is likely to arise by reason of the fact
that the interests of the State, or of any of the
inhabitants thereof, in the waters of an inter-State river
or river valley have been, or are likely to be, affected
prejudicially by—

(a) any executive action or legislation taken or passed, or
proposed to be taken or passed, by the other State; or

(b) the failure of the other State or any authority therein
to exercise any of their powers with respect to the use,
distribution or control of such waters; or

(c) the failure of the other State to implement the terms of
any agreement relating to the use, distribution or control
of such waters,

the State Government may, in such form and manner as
may be prescribed, request the Central Government to
refer the water dispute to a Tribunal for adjudication.‖
197

165. The definition of ‗water disputes‘ and the provisions contained

in Section 3 have to be given due significance. Section 3 protects

the right of inhabitants of a State. When the States make a request

under the 1956 Act for adjudication of the disputes, the interest of

the inhabitants of the State is involved. That is why, submits Mr.

Nariman, both the States are governed by the parens patriae

principle. Keeping in view the principles of law stated, we are

disposed to think that the controversy is to be adjudged on the

bedrock of equal status of the States and the doctrine of

equitability.

O. The quintessence of pleadings before the Tribunal

166. Having stated thus, we think it seemly to refer to the findings

on material aspects that pertain to the pleadings as regards the

allocation of quantity of water and the foundation to sustain such

claims. In that arena, we shall first advert to the outline of the

pleadings.

167. The plea of the State of Karnataka was that till the end of the

19th century, utilization of the waters of the Cauvery in the States of

Coorg and Mysore was primarily from channels drawn from the
198

river bed and from tanks in small quantities not exceeding 73 TMC

in aggregate. There was no facility of storage and, thus, the

agricultural operations were dependent on rainfall. It alleged that

the efforts made by the State of Mysore to utilize the waters of this

river for the purposes of irrigation were continually frustrated by

the protests of the British Government of Madras and though the

State of Mysore was the upper riparian State and contributed the

highest flow to the river, yet it was not permitted to exercise its

powers to utilize the waters for irrigation due to the remonstrances

of the lower riparian province of Madras. It pleaded that eventually,

after a series of correspondence in the last part of the 19th century

and early part of the 20th century and on the culmination of the

arbitration proceedings on the issue, a scheme for storage of the

water of Cauvery was formulated in 1931 after the construction of

the Krishna Raja Sagara Dam (also referred to as ―KRS‖) for the

storage of 44.8 TMC of water. It stated that by 1934, Madras too

had completed the work of Mettur Dam for storage of 93.5 TMC of

water of Cauvery thereby enabling cultivation of over 1,21,457 hec.

(3,00,000 acres) of new area. It mentioned that after the

reorganization of the States and formation of the State of Karnataka
199

covering the areas of the new State of Mysore and others, the

drainage area of Cauvery basin in Karnataka rose to 42.2%. Apart

from referring to the principal tributaries of Cauvery in Karnataka

like Harangi, Hemavathi, Kabini, it was underlined that the Cauvery

river valley did receive varying degrees of rainfall. In elaboration, it

was stated that while the western and central parts of the basin

received rainfall in South-West monsoon commencing from the last

week of May and ending in September, the eastern part was largely

attended by the North-East monsoon starting in September and

ending in December. It averred that the rainfall pattern per se

evinced that large cultivable areas of the State suffered from

inadequate rainfall. Though the hilly regions forming part of the

Western Ghat in Karnataka received very heavy rainfall, yet other

parts of the Districts of Mysore, Mandya, Hassan, Tumkur,

Bengaluru and Kollar encountered severe and successive droughts.

168. According to Karnataka, in sharp contrast, the eastern part of

the basin in Tamil Nadu received heavy rainfall in North-East

monsoon beginning from the end of September and ending in

December and further the central part of the basin in Tamil Nadu

received both South-West monsoon and North-East monsoon.
200

Referring to the report of the Irrigation Commission, it maintained

that though Karnataka had very large areas of cultivable and

cultivated lands in the Cauvery basin, yet it has the largest extent

of drought prone areas in the basin as well and that there was an

imperative need to extend relief to these areas by providing proper

irrigation facilities. It emphasized as well that due to uncertain

ground water resources resulting from reduced recharge, general

deep water table and low storage in the aquifer, the State has to

depend on surface water allocation in the Cauvery basin.

Elaborating its crop pattern, it was canvassed that Ragi, Jowar,

Sessamum, Groundnut, Redgram and short duration pulses were

the common Kharif crops under rain fed conditions. In some areas

where there were pockets of retentive soils or were visited by late

rains, some Rabi crops like Jowar, Bengalgram and cotton are also

cultivated. It emphasized that to ensure crops during the entire

period from June to February, i.e., the irrigation season, water from

Cauvery was an indispensable necessity, more particularly in view

of the precarious drought conditions suffered by the State.

169. Referring to the backdrop of the dispute and the reference for

the adjudication thereof before the Tribunal, the State of Tamil
201

Nadu reiterated its demurral that the State of Karnataka did

construct four reservoirs over Kabini, Hemavathi, Harangi and

Suvarnavathi tributaries of Cauvery and set up other projects for

storing water of the river much beyond the limits stipulated in the

agreement of the year 1924 which decisively resulted in material

diminution of the supply of waters of Cauvery to its territories.

According to it, such indulgences adversely affected the Ayacutdars

in Tamil Nadu who had been dependent on the water of river

Cauvery for centuries. While reiterating that the Agreements of

1892 and 1924 did factually recognize and protect the prescriptive

rights of Tamil Nadu, a lower riparian State, over the water of

Cauvery and that these agreements were the yields of deliberations

over the disputes between the erstwhile Governments of Madras

and Mysore, whose successors- in-interest are the present States of

Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, it was averred that though the State of

Karnataka was at liberty to use the water of Cauvery, yet it could

not do so to the prejudice of the interest of the people of Tamil

Nadu. It underlined that the apportionment of the water of an inter-

State river has to be adjudged on the principle of equitable

apportionment as well as by the common law of prescriptive rights.
202

According to Tamil Nadu, wherever there is an agreement between

the parties regarding the use, development and control of waters of

an inter-State river and the river valley thereof, the stipulations in

the agreement would govern the claim of the parties. It alleged that

the construction of Kabini, Hemavathi, Harangi and Suvarnavathi

projects by Karnataka was without the consent of Tamil Nadu and

thus in violation of the Agreement of 1924 and by taking advantage

of the fact that Tamil Nadu was a lower riparian state. It dilated

that Karnataka proceeded with the construction of Kabini reservoir

from 1958 and completed the same in 1975 and the irrigation from

the said reservoir commenced from 1975/1976 onwards. Tamil

Nadu contended that because of the construction of these

reservoirs, the inflows into Mettur reservoir were substantially and

materially diminished to its immense prejudice. Apart from

reiterating that the construction of these projects was without the

consent of Tamil Nadu and also the clearance required therefor, it

asserted that as per the settled principles, the upper riparian state

did not have an absolute right to impound or utilize the water of an

interstate river to the detriment of the lower riparian States. It

strongly put forth that the pre-existing right of the lower riparian
203

State has to be preserved more particularly when river Cauvery is

the only major river in Tamil Nadu which had been contributing

nearly 50% of the State‘s surface water use. Referring to the two

monsoons experienced by the State, Tamil Nadu elaborated that the

upper part of the Cauvery basin, which is above Mettur, is

influenced by South-West monsoon and the lower part by the

North-East monsoon and that the flow of river during the South-

West monsoon is to a great extent dependent on the run off from

the hilly catchment above the Sivasamudram falls. It was stated

that while the South-West monsoon is more intensive, unfailing and

dependable and spread over a long period, the North-East monsoon,

which visits the State after the South-West monsoon, is erratic and

undependable so much so that the coastal areas and the Delta

occasionally receive heavy intense rains of very short duration,

most of which can neither be conserved nor utilized in the Delta.

According to the State, during the South-West monsoon, most of

the catchment lying below the Mettur reservoir is not benefitted,

except a small portion of the high ranges of Bhawani and

Amaravathi tributaries, as the catchment lies on the rain shadow

areas of the Western Ghats. It was reiterated that due to the unique
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geographical and hydrological characteristics of the Cauvery basin,

Tamil Nadu is not in a position to avail the benefit of the South-

West monsoon fully and has to suffer the damage wrecked by the

North-East monsoon. To emphasize that it had to depend on the

flows of river Cauvery since June onwards during the South-West

monsoon and on local rainfall during the North-East monsoon, it

explained that after the commissioning of the Mettur reservoir in

1934, it had been possible to impound the excess flows and

dispatch regulated discharges to meet the needs of the river

channels enroute the Delta and that contingent on the availability

of supplies, a number of regulatory controls have been devised to

regulate the same. Referring to its crop pattern, Tamil Nadu

disclosed that in the Delta, a short duration crop called ―Kuruvai‖ is

raised between the months of June and September followed by a

medium crop named ―Thaladi‖ between October and February. It

also mentioned about a long term crop named ―Samba‖ raised

between July and January in single crop lands which are large in

extent. Tamil Nadu underlined that rice was the dominant crop in

the Delta especially in the Thanjavur district and that the whole

State largely depended on this district for rice which was the staple
205

food of the people. It asserted that the alluvial soil of the Delta was

ideal for growing rice subject to the availability of water and only in

isolated pockets, sugarcane, banana and other crops are grown.

170. Kerala averred that the river Cauvery originates in the eastern

slopes of the Western Ghats and has its huge catchment spread

over the States of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and that three

tributaries of the river, namely, Kabini, Bhavani and Pamber, have

portions of their catchments in the State of Kerala. It was further

asserted that its total contribution in the flow is to the extent of

20% but it lags behind others in utilization of waters of the

Cauvery. As a reason therefor, it cited the fact that before the

reorganization of the States in the year 1956, neither Travancore

nor Travancore-Cochin State was recognized as an interested party

in the dispute of sharing of the water of Cauvery, but after the

reorganization, determined efforts were made for improvement of

the Basin and diversion of the water in Cauvery Basin for utilization

by the State. It, however, underlined that the efforts of the State

stood frustrated because of the objection of the other riparian states

and though several claims had been brought up and were otherwise

found to be technically feasible and economically viable, yet those
206

could not be executed because of the adamant attitude of the other

lower riparian states. It highlighted that the State of Kerala, for all

these factors, had to be dependent on the single crop of paddy

though there is much scope for raising second or even third crop

with the availability of irrigation facilities from the water available in

the Cauvery Basin. It emphasized that its ground water potential

was negligible but because of the special topographical feature of

the Cauvery Basin in the State of Kerala, diversion of water from

the Cauvery Basin did promise the scope of development of cheap

hydro electric power in addition to meeting the need for

consumption of water for irrigation purposes. It stated that while it

was stifled from taking up any scheme in the Basin, Tamil Nadu

proceeded with the construction in utilizing water for extending

irrigation and for that purpose, the Government of India cleared

projects like Mettur Canal Project, Kattalai High Level Canal and

Pullambadi Canal Schemes. The State of Karnataka also embarked

upon new irrigation projects for utilizing Cauvery water even

without the clearance of the Government of India in order to

underscore the discrimination meted out to the State of Kerala in

the matter of proportionate utilization of the waters in the Cauvery
207

Basin to which it was entitled.

171. The Union Territory of Puducherry pleaded that its Karaikal

region is situated on the South Coromandel Coast and that the

three sides thereof are bound by Thanjavur District of Tamil Nadu

and on the East lay the Bay of Bengal. It disclosed that the total

area of Karaikal region is 14,920/- hectares out of which 10,990

hectares is under cultivation. While stating that the sub-soil water

in the region is unsuitable for cultivation, it mentioned that the

water supplied to Karaikal region from river Cauvery flows from the

branches of the river below Grand Anicut where the river Cauvery

divides and sub-divides itself and serves both the irrigation and

training channels in the Karaikal area. The water requirement for

the Karaikal region for the three crops, namely, Samba (single crop),

Kuruvai (Kharif) (Double crop) and Thaladi (Rabi) (Double crop) was

mentioned to be 9240 Mc.ft, i.e., 9.24 TMC for 17220 ha. of

irrigation. It claimed that the interest of its territory was taken note

of when the Agreements of 1892 and 1924 were entered into

between the then Government of Madras and Government of

Mysore in connection with the construction of Krishna Raja Sagara

Dam and that at the time of construction of Mettur Dam, the
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French Administration, then in-charge, passed on its claim to the

then Government of Madras for regulation of supply of Cauvery

Water to Karaikal region. It, however, alleged that after 1972, there

has been a shortfall in the actual release of water ranging from 2

TMC to 6 TMC.

172. After recording the evidence to which we shall refer to

hereinafter under different headings, to reiterate, the issues for the

purpose of convenience were regrouped finally which we have

already reproduced hereinbefore.

173. The Tribunal in seriatim dealt with the regrouped issues and,

accordingly, proceeded to examine the validity or otherwise of the

Agreements of 1892 and 1924. It set out the background and the

circumstances under which the agreements were entered into. We

need not advert to the same in detail as we have referred and dealt

with while dealing with the issues pertaining to the status of the

Agreements. However, it is necessary to state that after a spate of

correspondence and series of discussions, an agreement between

the Mysore Government and Madras Government was entered into

in 1892 in the form of rules captioned as ―Rules defining the limits

within which no new irrigation works are to be constructed by the
209

Mysore State without previous reference to the Madras

Government‖. The Tribunal set down the relevant clauses of the

Rules and the extracts therefrom having a formidable bearing on

the issue under scrutiny are quoted hereinbelow:-

―The Mysore Government shall not, without the previous
consent of the Madras Government, or before a decision
under rule IV below, build (a) any ―New Irrigation
Reservoirs‖ across any part of the fifteen main rivers
named in the appended Schedule A, or across any stream
named in Schedule B below the point specified in column
(5) of the said Schedule B, or in any drainage area
specified in the said Schedule B, or (b) any ―New anicut‖
across the streams of Schedule A, Nos. 4 to 9 and 14 and
15, or across any of the streams of Schedule B, or across
the following streams of Schedule A, lower than the
points specified hereunder:

Across 1. Tungabhadra – lower than the road crossing at
Honhalli,
Across 10 Cauvery – lower than the Ramaswami Anicut
and,
Across 13 Kabani – lower than the Rampur anicut.
III. When the Mysore Government desires to construct
any ―New Irrigation Reservoir‖ or any new anicut
requiring the previous consent of the Madras
Government under the last preceding rule, then full
information regarding the proposed work shall be
forwarded to the Madras Government and the consent of
that Government shall be obtained previous to the
actual commencement of work. The Madras
Government shall be bound not to refuse such consent
except for the protection of prescriptive right already
acquired and actually existing, the existence, extent and
210

nature of such right and the mode of exercising it being
in every case determined in accordance with the law on
the subject of prescriptive right to use of water and in
accordance with what is fair and reasonable under all
the circumstances of each individual case.‖

174. Schedule A that was annexed to the Rules provided the details

of the rivers and their tributaries passing through the territory of

Government of Mysore including Cauvery and its tributaries

Hemavathi, Laxmanthirtha, Kabini, Honhole (or Suvarnavathi) and

Yagachi (tributary of Hemavathi) upto Belur Bridge. It was clarified

that at that point of time, there was no mention of the tributary

Harangi in the Schedule as it was outside the territory of Mysore

and was located in Coorg State.

175. In the above premise, the Tribunal noted that in terms of the

Agreement of 1892, the Mysore Government was required to obtain

the previous consent from the Madras Government in respect of any

construction proposed to be made including any new irrigation

reservoir across the 15 main rivers named in Schedule A to the

agreement or across any stream named in Schedule B below the

point specified therein. It was stipulated as well that before any

such project was executed, full information with regard to the same

was required to be furnished to the State of Madras for the purpose
211

of consent. In its turn, the Madras Government was not to refuse

such consent except on the failure of the Mysore Government to

furnish full information regarding the proposed work to the Madras

Government and if the grant of any such consent by the Madras

Government would deprive its inhabitants of their protection of

prescriptive rights already acquired and existent in accordance with

law on the use of an inter-state river.

176. The Tribunal thereafter took note of the events subsequent

thereto which, with time, gave rise to a fresh dispute between the

two States following the formulation of proposals by them for

construction of reservoirs on the river Cauvery. The dissension, as

the Tribunal has noted, gave rise to disputes, the Griffin Award and

eventually coming into force of the 1924 Agreement. The Tribunal

generally traversed the agreement as a whole with particular

reference to clause 10(i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi), (vii), (xi), (xiv) and (xv)

dealing with the construction and operation of the Krishna Raja

Sagara reservoir; obligation of the Mysore Government to regulate

the discharge through and from the said reservoir strictly in

accordance with the rules of regulation set forth in Annexure (I) to

the Agreement; future extensions of irrigation in Mysore and
212

Madras as well as future constructions of reservoirs on Cauvery

and its tributaries mentioned in Schedule A of the 1892 Agreement;

the mode and manner of operation of the reservoirs so as not to

make any material diminution in supplies connoted by the gauges

accepted in the rules of regulations for the Krishna Raja Sagara

reservoir; reconsideration of the limitations and arrangements

embodied in Clauses (iv) to (viii) on the expiry of 50 years from the

date of the execution of the agreement for the purpose of

modifications and additions, as may be mutually agreed upon;

liberty of the Mysore Government to construct, as an offset, a

storage reservoir on one of the Tributaries of the Cauvery in Mysore

of a capacity not exceeding 60% of the new reservoirs in Madras,

should the Madras Government construct irrigation works in

Bhawani, Amravathi or Noyyal rivers as new storage reservoirs and

the provision for reference to arbitration of any dispute between the

two Governments touching upon the interpretation or operation or

carrying out of the agreement.

177. The Tribunal also set out the extract of Rule 7 of the rules of

regulation of the Krishna Raja Sagara prescribing the minimum

flow of Cauvery that was to be ensured at the Upper Anicut before
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any impounding was made in the Krishna Raja Sagara reservoir. Be

it stated, we have already reproduced the same earlier.

178. The Tribunal next scanned the Agreements of 1892 and 1924

and to discern the clarificatory Agreement dated 17.06.1929 noted

that the fixed level or discharge was to be maintained on the basis

of (a) the waters released from Krishna Raja Sagara reservoir, (b)

from Kabini, Suvarnavathy, Shimsha and Arkavathi Tributaries

which join Cauvery within the State of Mysore/Karnataka below

Krishna Raja Sagara reservoir and (c) Four Tributaries of Cauvery

in Madras/Tamil Nadu; (i) Chinnar, (ii) Noyyal, (iii) Bhavani and (iv)

Amaravathi.

179. The Tribunal further observed that the Agreement only

contemplated and provided for future extension of irrigation in new

areas on the terms and conditions mentioned therein and

concluded that after the execution of the said Agreement, there was

no nexus or link between the discharge of water of river Cauvery to

the State of Madras and the areas over which any prescriptive right

had already been acquired or was actually existing and the formula

was worked out by taking the total area which was under irrigation
214

by the Cauvery system before the execution of the said Agreement.

180. It analyzed in detail the various clauses of the said Agreement

with the mutual rights and obligations as specified therein and in

that context, it opined that whenever a dispute was raised, it was to

be examined in the light of the conditions prescribed not only in

clauses 10 (iv) to 10 (viii) but also in the light of the obligation and

mandate provided on the part of State of Mysore/Karnataka to

follow the rules of regulation for Krishna Raja Sagara reservoir as

contained in clause 10(ii).

181. It adverted to the observations of this Court that though the

water from inter-state river pass through the territories of riparian

States, yet such waters cannot be located in any one State, being in

a state of flow, and, thus, no State can claim exclusive ownership of

such water so as to deprive the other States of their equitable

share. Keeping in view of the judgment of this Court, the Tribunal

negatived the contention of the State of Tamil Nadu that the

allocation and apportionment of the waters of river Cauvery should

be made strictly in accordance with Agreements dated 1892 and

1924 but parted with the observation that the terms thereof would,

however, have to be kept in view, while considering the
215

developments made in the different State vis-a-vis the share of each

riparian State.

P. The findings of the Tribunal on various issues

P.1 Prescriptive rights and other claims

182. Vis-a-vis the prescriptive rights and other claims projected by

the States, the Tribunal reiterated that the Agreement of 1924 along

with the rules of regulation of Krishna Raja Sagara reservoir, as

appended thereto, did not indicate anything to that effect and

neither any reference had been made to the areas over which any

prescriptive right had been acquired prior thereto or existing nor

any provision had been made with regard thereto. It differentiated

in this respect the Agreement of 1892 which laid stress in respect of

prescriptive rights already acquired and then existing from the

Agreement of 1924 which did not contain a reference to any existing

prescriptive right of the State of Madras or its cultivators in respect

of the water to be released to it. The Tribunal perceived that the

Government of Mysore and the State of Madras while entering into

the Agreement of 1924 seemed to have recognized the total areas

under irrigation of the Cauvery System within the State of Mysore
216

as well as the State of Madras irrespective of any prescriptive right

having been acquired by the State of Madras on any part or whole

of the areas under irrigation and it rather provided for future

extension of irrigation in new areas on the terms and conditions as

set out. Referring to a letter dated 06.07.1915 addressed by the

then Dewan of Mysore to the Resident of Mysore which carried,

according to the Tribunal, an admission on behalf of the State of

Mysore to the effect that at that point of time, the area irrigated

under the Cauvery System in Madras was 12,25,500/- acres, it

upheld the claim of State of Tamil Nadu that prior to the execution

of the Agreement of 1924, its area of irrigation was 13,26,233 acres.

The Tribunal, thus, concluded that in the overall background, it

would be futile to examine as to what was the total area in the then

State of Madras over which prescriptive rights had been acquired or

were in existence for the purpose of allocating the quantity of water

to the State of Tamil Nadu and that for all intents and purposes, the

issue regarding prescriptive right of Madras had been rendered

academic.

217

P.2 Breach of agreements of 1892 and 1924 and consequences
thereof

183. Dealing with the highly contentious issue of breach of the

agreements and the consequences thereof, the Tribunal outlined

the summary of the rival orientations. While the State of Karnataka

urged that all its projects with regard to which grievances had been

made by the State of Tamil Nadu had been contemplated under the

Agreement of 1924 and that no separate consent therefor was

required from the State of Tamil Nadu and that in view of clauses

10(iv) and 10(vii), the Mysore Government was at liberty to carry out

future extension of irrigation within its territories under the

Cauvery and its tributaries to the extent as permissible thereunder

and in the manner as prescribed, the remonstrance of the State of

Tamil Nadu was that the Mysore Government did not furnish the

full particulars and details of the reservoir schemes and of the

impounding of water thereby, as required thereunder in clause

10(viii). It contended as well that the Rules of Regulation in respect

of such reservoirs had to be settled first before the construction was

to start as the apprehension of the then State of Madras was that

impounding in such reservoirs was bound to affect the flow at
218

Upper Anicut as stipulated in clauses 7 and 10 of the rules of

regulation of Krishna Raja Sagara reservoir.

184. To address these areas of dissension, in essence, the Tribunal

primarily referred to the official exchanges/correspondence between

the two States after the execution of the Agreement on various

aspects bearing thereon, during which both the States did initiate

and pursue their projects, levelling at the same time, against each

other, the imputation of deviations from the Agreement. The

Tribunal noted as well that after 1974, when according to the State

of Karnataka, the Agreement of 1924 came to an end, it started

impounding waters in different reservoirs constructed over the

tributaries of Cauvery within its territories without following any

Rules or any of the terms of the Agreement of 1924 and that the

areas which were to be put under irrigation from such reservoirs

and other diversion of works, like Anicuts increased every year.

Referring to the charts laid before it, the Tribunal also marked that

the impounding of water in different reservoirs on Hemavathi,

Kabini, Suvarnavathy and Harangi tributaries in the State of

Karnataka increased, which precisely was one of the inducing

factors for the dispute to be referred to the Tribunal for
219

adjudication. The Tribunal, on an overall view of the intervening

developments, concluded that the issue as to who was at fault and

responsible for such alleged breaches or violations had been

rendered academic with time and was of no practical relevance. It,

however, set down that Mysore had observed the rules of regulation

of Krishna Raja Sagara reservoir till the expiry of the period of 50

years from the date of the execution of the Agreement of 1924, but

thereafter had started asserting its territorial rights over the water

flowing from Cauvery within its boundaries. Noting, amongst

others, that even the State of Tamil Nadu had increased its acreage

under the Cauvery irrigation system over the years from 16 lakhs to

28 lakhs, the Tribunal was of the view that the violations or the

injuries caused by the States allegedly to each other was really a

matter of history and defied any manageable parameter for

assessment thereof after the lapse of considerable period of time.

P.3 Peripheral issues qua claims of Kerala and Union Territory
of Pondicherry (presently named as “Puducherry”)

185. The Tribunal, at this juncture, before embarking upon the

scrutiny of the factors to ascertain the aggregate yield of water

available for the purpose of apportionment amongst the riparian
220

States, addressed a few peripheral issues pertaining to the claims of

Kerala and the Union Territory of Puducherry. Qua Kerala, it

recorded that its claim of share of waters of the river Cauvery had

been made primarily because of the areas transferred to it from the

State of Madras. The Malabar District which before the

reorganization of the States, was an integral part of the State of

Madras, it was noticed, not only included a part of the Cauvery

Basin but also a part of two important tributaries, namely, Kabini

and Bhawani, apart from another tributary, namely, Pambar which

was within the erstwhile State of Travancore Cochin, territories

whereof also were integrated with the new State of Kerala on such

reorganization. The erstwhile State of Travancore Cochin was not a

party to the Agreement of 1924, but after its formation in the year

1956, the State of Kerala started claiming apportionment of the

waters contending that the said Agreement was not binding on it

and ought to be ignored to determine its share. The Tribunal

exhaustively referred to the series of communications projecting the

grievances and demands of the State of Kerala, the demurral in

substance being that the co-riparian States, Mysore and Madras,

were prosecuting their projects in total disregard of its share of
221

water in the Kabini, Bhawani and Pambar tributaries. In the

discussions held, it asserted that there was no valid or legal

agreement which did bind it with regard to the allocation of waters

in Cauvery and its tributaries as it was never a party thereto. It

claimed that the three tributaries, namely, Kabini, Bhawani and

Amaravathi, which had become part of Kerala State, did contribute

about 220 TMC against the total flow of 680 TMC in the entire

Cauvery basin and that there had been practically no utilization of

this water by it. It registered its claim for irrigation and power

generation at 86 TMC.

186. The claim of Union Territory of Puducherry on the basis of its

total area of cultivation to be 43,000 acres was taken cognizance of.

This was based on the fact that the Karaikal region of the Union

Territory of Puducherry was located within the Cauvery basin and

that seven branches of Cauvery did flow through the said region.

The Tribunal parted with the observation that the Union of Territory

of Puducherry was, thus, interested only in the allotment of its

share of water in the Cauvery basin being at the tail end among the

riparian States. It felt it apt to direct that 6 TMC out of the total

volume to be released to Mettur Dam would have to be made
222

available for utilization by Puducherry for its irrigation in the

Karaikal region.

P.4 Gross water available for apportionment

P.4(i) Surface flow of water:

187. Having thus laid the factual preface comprehending the

relevant facets of the discord, the Tribunal next turned to determine

the surface flow of Cauvery river to ascertain the volume of water

dependably available for eventual allocation amongst the claimants-

States. For the said purpose, it initiated the scrutiny from the yield

of the river. It noticed that the yield or the total available quantum

of water in a river system was dependant on rainfall pattern,

catchment area characteristics including soil and vegetal cover and

various climatic parameters affecting evaporation and evapo-

transpiration in the basin. It also took note of the fact that the

annual yield of a given basin varies from year to year depending

upon the occurrence of rainfall and its intensity and distribution in

time and space. It observed that in the assessment of total yield, the

withdrawals of water, if any, for different uses had a bearing and

that the total annual flow including upstream withdrawals at the

terminal site out of the yield of a river system was required to be
223

noted. It recorded that due to variability of the annual yield of a

river from year to year, depending upon the rainfall distribution,

consequent run off and withdrawals, etc., such data is collected for

a number of years to assess the reliable yield. At this stage, passing

reference was also made to the doctrine put forward by the Attorney

General Harmon of the United States that Riparian States have

exclusive or sovereign rights over the water flowing through their

territories and the anomaly in this doctrine in the implementation

thereof, especially in cases where the water of the river concerned

was not sufficient for all the States through which it passed. This

was so, as on the upper riparian State claiming its exclusive right to

utilize the waters on the basis of the aforesaid doctrine, the right of

use of water of such inter-state river by the lower riparian State

would stand jeopardised. The other extreme assertion of the lower

riparian States that they were entitled to water of such inter-State

or international rivers in their natural flow without any interference

and alteration in their character did have the potential of creating

disharmony and anomaly. To strike a balance for resolving such

conflicting claims of the upper and lower riparian States, the

principle of equitable apportionment as propounded by the
224

Supreme Court of United States in Kansas v. Colorado (supra) was

taken note of. The Tribunal while accepting this principle however

posed a question to itself, as to what would be the equitable

apportionment, more particularly where the water available was not

enough to cater to the needs of different riparian States.

188. The Tribunal noted in this context that the total amount of

water available in river Cauvery through surface flows and

alternative sources was much less than what the different States

claimed and required for their irrigation, electricity, drinking water

and to run different projects. It recounted again the formation of the

Cauvery Fact Finding Committee in the year 1972 and its report

which, on the issue, after having regard to the particulars and data

of the total yield forwarded by the States involved, cross-checked it

spanning over a period between 1933-34 to 1970-71 and also on

the basis of its investigation and further taking into consideration

the gauge and discharge readings at different places in different

States, worked out the dependable yield at 50%, 75% and 90% to be

740 TMC, 670 TMC and 623 TMC respectively. In arriving at these

figures, the Committee noted the utilization of Cauvery water in the

years 1901, 1928, 1956 and 1971 by different States. The
225

Committee also reflected over the different projects in different

States, land use, cultivated areas and agricultural practices,

geology and minerals as well as the climate, rainfall and water

resources vis-a-vis the competing States. Gauge and discharge

observations at the recorded sites in Tamil Nadu and Mysore in

particular were noted too. In view of the long term record available

for the main Cauvery at Krishna Raja Sagara, Mettur and Grand

Anicut/Lower Anicut, the Committee estimated the yield at 50%,

75% and 90% dependabilities. The Committee, thus assigned

sufficient weightage to the existence of Krishna Raja Sagara and

Mettur reservoirs and, accordingly, relied upon the data from

1933-34 when both these reservoirs were in position. The yield at

the terminal point of the basin, namely, Lower Coleroon Anicut,

was, thus, assessed by the Committee at 740 TMC at 50%

dependability, 670 TMC at 75% dependability and 623 TMC at 90%

dependability. The Tribunal observed that the report of the

Committee had been considered by the Chief Ministers of the States

whereupon they concurred with the finding of the total yield within

the Cauvery basin.

226

189. In the same year, i.e., 1973, the Chief Ministers of the three

riparian States and the Minister for Irrigation of Government of

India in a meeting did also agree that it was necessary for all the

concerned States to effect economy in the use of water so as to

make it possible to meet the legitimate needs of other projects

which were feasible in the Cauvery basin. Having said that, in the

end, Mr. C.C. Patel, Additional Secretary in the Ministry of

Irrigation and Power was asked to carry out detailed studies on the

scope for economy in the use of Cauvery waters. Accordingly, Mr.

Patel, on the completion of his studies, suggested some concrete

proposals in his report qua the States. The Tribunal recorded that

the State of Tamil Nadu did not dispute at any stage the

assessment made by the Cauvery Fact Finding Committee in

respect of the river flow and total yield of river Cauvery to be at 740

TMC at 50% dependability, 670 TMC at 75% dependability and 623

TMC at 90% dependability and had also accepted about the

utilization by the three riparian States, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and

Kerala, as found by the Committee in its additional report to be

566.60, 176.82 and 5.00 TMC respectively.

227

190. The Tribunal, however, at the hearing of the arguments,

required the States of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to furnish the

flow series for 38 years, i.e., from 1934-35 to 1971-72 and from the

data so furnished, it transpired that according to the State of

Karnataka, the average yield for the period 1900-01 to 1971-72 was

792.3 TMC which, at 50% dependability, figured 752 TMC. Tamil

Nadu noticeably, on the basis of flow series from the year 1934-35

upto 1971-72, claimed the total yield at 50% dependability to be

740 TMC. The Tribunal, on a comparison of the flow series for the

two States for the same period, i.e., 1934-35 to 1971-72, quantified

the dependable yield at 50% at 734 TMC qua Karnataka and 740

TMC for Tamil Nadu. Responding to the plea of Karnataka that the

Tribunal should take into consideration the flow series for the

period after 1972, it noted that none of the party-States had filed

annual flow series for the period subsequent to 1972 for important

nodal points, namely, Krishna Raja Sagara, Mettur and Lower

Coleroon Anicut and that in the absence of such information, it was

not possible to come to the conclusion that there has been a

material change in the total yield within the basin. It remarked as

well that after 1974, none of the States appeared to be interested in
228

disclosing the correct information in respect of withdrawals because

of which the details furnished in respect of flows and withdrawals

by the party-States in the common format after 1972 were disputed

by both the States. The Tribunal took note of the fact that Kerala,

since the initial stage, had supported the finding of the Cauvery

Fact Finding Committee that 740 TMC of water was available in the

Cauvery system in an average year. The stand of the Union

Territory of Puducherry was similar. In view of such preponderant

and convincing empirical inputs, the Tribunal accepted the total

yield of the Cauvery basin at 50% dependability to be 740 TMC and

at 75% dependability as 670 TMC.

P.4(ii) Identification of dependable yield:

191. The Tribunal next turned to identify which of the two

dependable yields, i.e., 50% or 75% was to be adopted for the

purpose of eventual apportionment. In this context, it premised that

the variability of annual yield from year to year warranted

ascertainment of the sustainable utilizable flow which could be

accepted for final allocation for which dependability of the available

flow (yield) was of formidable significance. In this regard, it noticed
229

that the utilizable quantities of water from surface run off had been

assessed by different authorities including the Irrigation

Commission, 1972 and the National Commission on Agriculture,

1976 based on physiographic conditions, hydro-meteorological

parameters and socio-political environment, legal and constitutional

constraints and available technology of development. The

dependability factor, the Tribunal observed, did indicate the degree

of assured supply available on the basis of which a project/scheme

for any particular use had been designed. It also recorded that from

the information furnished by the States of Karnataka and Kerala in

the common format, it transpired that most of the projects had

been designed on 50% dependability. The Tribunal felt advised as

well by the observations of the Supreme Court of United States in

State of Wyoming v. State of Colorado (supra) that the lowest

natural flow of the years is not the test and the reasonable view is

that a fairly constant and dependable flow materially in excess of

the lowest may generally be obtained by means of reservoirs

adopted to conserve and equalize the natural flow. The Tribunal

mentioned that from the yield series furnished by the States of

Tamil Nadu and Karnataka during the period of 38 years from
230

1934-35 to 1971-72, the lowest recorded yield was during the

period 1952-53 at 523 TMC according to Tamil Nadu and 516 TMC

according to Karnataka. It noted that in the Cauvery basin, the

fluctuation of the flows was not as high as in the Krishna or

Narmada basin, such fluctuation between the lowest yield and the

dependable yield being within 30% in comparison to 56% and 70%

in case of Krishna or Narmada. The Tribunal took note of the

storage capacities of various reservoirs built by the States of Tamil

Nadu and Karnataka before and after 1972 in the Cauvery basin. It

also took into account the projects proposed by the State of Kerala

having live storage of more than 1 TMC each totaling 19 TMC of live

storage capacity in the basin. The fact that in addition, about 12

TMC of storage capacity was available from other small reservoirs

with capacity of less than 1 TMC was taken cognizance of. The

Tribunal, thus, concluded that the total storage capacity in the

Cauvery basin was 330 TMC (gross) and 310 TMC (live). It was of

the view that about 42% of 740 TMC (i.e., 50% dependable yield)

could be stored in all the storage reservoirs in the Cauvery basin

which was a very significant aspect for consideration in the

development and utilization of water resources of a river basin. It
231

concluded that in view of the facets examined on the basis of the

materials available, adoption of 50% dependable flow for

apportionment amongst the party-States, bearing in mind the

reinforcement in the two monsoon seasons and the availability of

ample storage facilities, would be fair and the system could be

further strengthened by integrated operation of the important

reservoirs.

P.4(iii) Additional source of water:

192. The Tribunal, in its quest for an additional/alternative source

of water, dwelt upon sub-surface water or groundwater which is a

portion of the earth‘s hydrological cycle. It started with the premise

that the groundwater originates for all practical purposes as surface

water which infiltrates into the ground from natural re-charge of

precipitation, stream flow, lakes and reservoirs. It noted the

recorded fact that recharge of the groundwater takes place from

natural resources like rainfall and artificial modes, i.e., application

of water to irrigate crops, flooding of areas caused by over-flowing of

streams to their sides and seepage from unlined canals, tanks and

other sources of re-charge in any particular area. It took
232

cognizance of the empirical data prepared by the Central Ground

Water Board, Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India,

that groundwater caters to more than 45% of the total irrigation in

the country. On this issue, whereas the State of Karnataka

contended that while making apportionment of the waters available

within the Cauvery basin, groundwater available within the delta

areas should also be taken into consideration, per contra, Tamil

Nadu asserted to the contrary. According to it, so far as the delta

was concerned, the groundwater was mainly derived from re-charge

by the supplies from Mettur, i.e., it is the water of river Cauvery

and its tributaries which by process of re-charge becomes

groundwater within the delta area in the State of Tamil Nadu and

the same is utilized by the farmers for raising of early nurseries

ahead of releases from Mettur and for irrigating belated crop after

stoppage of Mettur releases. It, thus, asserted that as the

groundwater in the delta area is replenished by the releases from

Mettur, it cannot be considered to be an independent source of

irrigation or an alternative means of irrigation. The Tribunal, in

order to address this issue, traversed the studies undertaken,

amongst others, by the Central Ground Water Board, Ministry of
233

Water Resources, Government of India which, to reiterate, attested

that groundwater is an important source of irrigation and caters to

more than 45% of the total irrigation in the country and that the

contribution of groundwater irrigation to achieve self-sufficiency in

food grains production in the past three decades had been

phenomenal. It mentioned in its report that although the

groundwater is an annually replenishable resource, yet its

availability is non-uniform in space and time and though for

planning its development, a precise estimation of groundwater

resource and irrigation potential is a necessary pre-requisite, yet

such an exercise is rather difficult as techniques are currently not

available for direct measurement. The report further enumerated

the items of supply to and disposal from groundwater reservoirs.

The Tribunal noted that for irrigation, there are three sources of

water supply, namely, rainfall, surface flow of any river which can

be taken to different areas through canal system and groundwater

which can be taken out through open wells or tube-wells. Reverting

to the Cauvery basin, the Tribunal marked that it was an admitted

position that the variability in time and quantity of rainfall from the

South-West monsoon and the North-East monsoon in some years
234

do create problems thereby affecting the surface flow of river

Cauvery and its tributaries which in its own turn affect the storage

in different reservoirs like Krishna Raja Sagara, Mettur, etc. The

Tribunal underlined that it is in this background that availability of

groundwater assumed importance. It also referred to the

disclosures in research undertaken in the field that the availability

of groundwater for use was limited to the annual re-charge which

could be withdrawn and again replenished by natural

rainfall/artificial modes of re-charge so much so that the annual

withdrawals of groundwater in any region need to be in equilibrium

with the annual replenishment of groundwater in that region. It

indicated on the basis of the materials available that over-

withdrawals made from an aquifer (i.e., water bearing rock

formation) at rates in excess of the net re-charge are described as

―mining‖ of groundwater as it lowers the groundwater level

permanently to the extent these over-withdrawals are made thereby

leading to serious problems. It noted that if such practice of over-

withdrawals would continue resulting in decline of groundwater

table, the pumping of water would become more and more

expensive from the greater depth thus compounding the situation.
235

The Tribunal, adverting to the Central Ground Water Board

Publication ―Ground Water Resources of India -1995‖ observed that

whereas in Karnataka, dug-wells, dug-cum-bore wells and bore

wells were the main groundwater structures feasible, the ground

water development for irrigation had commenced recently in the

State. As regards the State of Tamil Nadu, it was observed that

groundwater development in most of the parts of the State was high

resulting in lowering of water level in many areas. The caveat in the

report that in the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu, a cautious approach

has to be adopted for groundwater development due to salinity

hazards, was noted. The fact that the research study and

experiments indicated towards the encouraging conjunctive use of

groundwater with the available surface waters was taken note of by

the Tribunal as well. This was clearly suggestive of the

comprehension that groundwater could be used to supplement

surface water supplies in order to reduce peak demands for

irrigation and other uses or to meet the deficit in the years of low

rainfall. Reports, inter alia, of the Irrigation Commission, 1972

disclosing the role played by groundwater in mitigation of the

requirements of the party-States, namely, Karnataka (35%), Kerala
236

(21%), Tamil Nadu (47.2.%) and Union Territory of Puducherry

(61%) were noticed by the Tribunal. The Tribunal also took note of

the fact that the development of groundwater had taken place

mostly in the private sector where the owners have many a time

over-exploited the available groundwater resources resulting in

gradual lowering of the water level with the hazard of intrusion of

sea water in the coastal areas thereby polluting the quality of

groundwater in the vicinity of the coastline and, thus, rendering the

groundwater in the affected area not only unfit for human

consumption but also for use in agriculture. The Tribunal marked

the limit of groundwater development proportionate to the annual

replenishable groundwater resources as prescribed by the National

Water Policy. The aspect that though underground water resources

of a State had been acknowledged to be a relevant factor by the

Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal, Narmada Water Disputes

Tribunal as well as Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal for equitable

apportionment of the waters of an inter-State river system, yet they

declined to investigate the question regarding availability of

groundwater and quantity thereof on the ground that groundwater

flow cannot be accurately estimated from the technical point of view
237

and, thus not fully cognizable from the legal point of view, was

underlined.

193. The Tribunal referred to the investigation undertaken by a

team of experts under the United Nations Development Programme

with its report stating that the total yearly quantity of replenishable

groundwater that can be extracted from the shallow aquifer in the

delta through high yielding medium-depth tube-wells equipped with

turbine pumps is 129 TMC. It elaborated that the yearly quantity of

groundwater that can be extracted by using centrifugal pumps in

the Cauvery sub-basin, Vennar sub-basin and in the new delta was

33.7 TMC, 5.4 TMC and 32.5 TMC respectively. Additionally, a

quantity of 56.5 TMC of groundwater per year can also be made

available in the Cauvery sub-basin by lowering seasonally

groundwater level to 10 meters depth below the regional

groundwater level and substituting high yielding medium-depth

tube-wells equipped with turbines for the low yield filter points with

centrifugal pumps. This finding, however, was criticized by Tamil

Nadu as impracticable and unworkable, more particularly in view of

the high cost involved in purchasing the equipments suggested and

in lowering the depth upto 10 meters by different cultivators in the
238

Delta. The State of Karnataka, however, supported the

recommendation of the UNDP with the observation that if the same

would have been implemented timely, the aquifers in the Delta

would have been re-charged by North-East monsoon rainfall which

could be utilized during the period from June to October next year.

194. The Tribunal took note of the study conducted by a team of

the Central Ground Water Board of the utilization of groundwater

with special reference to the Delta area in Tamil Nadu which

indicated that the groundwater potential available from the Delta

was to the extent of 64 TMC which included 5 TMC from deep

acquifer (upto 100 meters deep). The Tribunal also took note of the

report by Mr. W. Barber, Consultant, World Bank on the

Groundwater Resources of the Cauvery Delta which not only

indicated the Gross Ground Water Abstractions from Cauvery Delta

from 1971 to 1983 but also estimated the available groundwater to

be 51.56 TMC. The Tribunal, on the basis of the reports submitted

by the UNDP, Central Ground Water Board and Mr. Barber of World

Bank, observed that the same, to a great extent, supported the

stand of Tamil Nadu that the re-charge of groundwater in the Delta

area was mainly due to releases from Mettur reservoir. It, however,
239

marked the admission of the State in its pleadings that the total

groundwater extraction during the year 1989 was approximately

28.4 TMC in the Cauvery sub-basin, 7.3 TMC in the Vennar sub-

basin and 11.3 TMC in the Grand Anicut Canal area (new Delta

area) totaling 47 TMC. The statement of Tamil Nadu in its pleadings

that in the old Delta there was scope for conjunctive use of

groundwater to the extent of 30 TMC was recorded. Tamil Nadu,

however, belatedly questioned the findings of the UNDP to be not

fully representative of the area surveyed and in view of better

parameters for revaluation of the aquifers, as suggested by the

Ground Water Resource Estimation Committee. But the Tribunal in

absence of any evidence adduced by Tamil Nadu to this effect,

preferred not to discard the reports of the UNDP. The issue was

tested by the Tribunal in the context of the variety of crops grown

and the rainfall received through the South-West monsoon and

North-East monsoon. It concluded from the reports of the Irrigation

Commission as well as of the Cauvery Fact Finding Committee that

the North-East monsoon was irregular and subject to frequent

failures often accompanied with cyclonic formations in the Bay of

Bengal resulting in high floods as well as large surface runoff with
240

many a times even causing damage to the standing paddy crop. On

a scrutiny of the report of the UNDP and the Central Ground Water

Board, the Tribunal concluded that as per the former, 39.2 TMC of

the groundwater was available in the old Delta, whereas as per the

latter, the stock was limited to 30 TMC. The Tribunal noted that

this was in comparison to 28.79 TMC as estimated by Mr. Barber.

It noted as well that qua the new Delta, UNDP had estimated at

32.6 TMC and Mr. Barber had estimated at 22.77 TMC. In the

background of such exhaustive studies by various agencies, the

Tribunal observed that in a normal year when there would be

regular releases of water from Mettur, the bulk of contribution to

the groundwater in the Cauvery sub-basin would be from such

releases, but in any case, the contribution from surface irrigation

and rainfall could not be overlooked. All these notwithstanding, the

Tribunal, considering the severe limitation in the assessment of

groundwater resource, made a safe estimate of 20 TMC which could

be used by Tamil Nadu conjunctively with surface water. The

Tribunal clarified that this quantum was arrived at after excluding

the component of groundwater re-charge from river water by lateral

infiltration.

241

P.5 The principles of apportionment

195. The principles of apportionment of the waters of Cauvery, the

gravamen of the dispute, next engaged the attention of the Tribunal.

The fact that such principles for distribution of inter-state or

international rivers like the principles of natural justice had been

evolved and developed by the Courts from time to time over

centuries, while adjudicating water disputes between different

States or Nations were noted as the starting premise. The Tribunal

acknowledged that such disputes were directly linked with the

development in different spheres and demands for water from such

inter-state or international rivers could be traced to the rise in

population. It reminisced to record that most of the ancient cities

and civilizations had grown on the banks of such rivers because of

the fertile land and easy communication but during the middle of

the 19th century the industrial revolution and allied development,

which brought prosperity to mankind, also bred conflict and

dispute in respect of sharing of waters of such inter-State and

international rivers. The perennial dissension between the upper

riparian States claiming an absolute right on the flow of water
242

passing through their territories and the lower riparian States

claiming on the principle of right of easement was taken note of.

196. The Tribunal ruminated that the resultant dispute and

disharmony called for a balanced approach keeping in mind the

interest of all the riparian states, the inherent question to be

answered being which State should get what proportion of water

out of the total yield of the river concerned. Noticing that the

demands of different States when much higher than the total

available water in the basin in question posed formidable

challenges, the Tribunal recalled that the dispute about sharing of

water of deficit river like Cauvery was more than one and a half

century old as attested by the recorded facts. It took into account

the assertion of the State of Tamil Nadu based on prescriptive right

over the flows of river Cauvery as well as its right of prior

appropriation being a lower riparian State. In endorsement of this

plea, the State had relied on the relevant observations with regard

to the doctrine of appropriation made in the report of the Indus

Commission of the year 1942 to the effect that ―priority of

appropriation gives superiority of right‖. The Commission had

remarked that the common law rule of riparian rights was
243

completely destructive of equitable apportionment for under that

rule, the upper owner could hardly take any share, far less than his

fair share of water of the river for the purposes of irrigation. In

comparison, the doctrine of appropriation was consistent with

equitable apportionment provided that the prior appropriator was

not allowed to exceed reasonable requirements. The fact that this

doctrine was dictated by considerations of public interest was

noticed as well. The view of the U.S. Supreme Court in State of

Wyoming v. State of Colorado (supra) to the effect that the

cardinal rule of the doctrine that priority of appropriation gives

superiority of right was underlined. The Tribunal construed that the

priority of appropriation was a concept different from past

utilization of waters of the basin by one State or the other. It noted

as well the reservation of the Supreme Court of United States in

State of Nebraska v. State of Wyoming (supra) that for an

allocation between the appropriating States to be just and

equitable, strict adherence to the priority rule might not be possible

though it may pose as the guiding principle. The Tribunal recorded

that past utilization or existing utilization had also been recognized

as a relevant factor in a proceeding for apportionment of waters of
244

an inter-state or international river and conceptually was a part of

the evolution and development of river basin linked with the history

thereof. It mentioned as well that though past utilization and

existing utilization was a relevant factor in the matter of

apportionment, yet there could be prevalent circumstances in other

riparian States outweighing the prevailing practice so much so that

in such an eventuality, such practice or use would be required to be

restricted or modified in a reasonable manner.

197. The Tribunal also took note of the observations of the Krishna

Water Disputes Tribunal in its report under the heading ―Protection

of Existing Uses‖ to the effect that in fixing the equitable share of

the States, the claims of such existing uses should be allowed

before claims for future uses are taken up for consideration. It was,

however, reiterated that priority of appropriation, though the

guiding rule, was not conclusive in equitable allocation. It recalled

the observations of the U.S. Supreme Court in State of Nebraska

v. State of Wyoming (supra) where junior uses of Colorado were

allowed to prevail over the senior uses of Nebraska having regard to

Colorado‘s counter-veiling equities and established economy based

on existing uses of water. The Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal‘s
245

remark that equitable apportionment can take into account only

such requirements for prospective uses as are reasonable, having

regard to the available supply and the needs of the other States,

was referred to.

198. The Tribunal also adverted to the discussion recorded by the

Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal in its report where it dwelt upon

the “Relevant Factors in the Balancing Process”, where,

amongst others, various determinants like extent of dependence of

the riverine dwellers on the river flow, the size of the river‘s

watershed or drainage area and the possibility of maintaining a

sustained flow through the controlled use of flood waters, seasonal

variations in diversions, availability of storage facilities or ability to

construct them, availability of other resources, etc. had been

enumerated. The Tribunal noticed the remark in the report that the

doctrine of equitable apportionment cannot be put in the narrow

strait-jacket of a fixed formula and that in determining the just and

reasonable share of the interested States, regard must be had to

these factors and beyond so that the allocation will be made

according to their relative economic and social needs. In this

regard, the volume of the stream, the water uses already been made
246

by the State concerned, the respective areas of land yet to be

watered, the physical and climatic characteristics of the States, the

relative productivity of land in the States, the State-wise drainage,

the population dependent on the water supply and degree of their

dependence, extent of evaporation in each State and the avoidance

of unnecessary waste in the utilization of water were also factors to

be applied.

199. The Tribunal also referred to the reports of the Godavari Water

Disputes Tribunal and Ravi and Bias Water Tribunal to underline

the primacy of the recognition of equal rights of the contending

States to establish justice between them over the claim of absolute

proprietary rights in river waters. The reports explained that equal

right, however, did not mean an equal division of water but implied

an equitable apportionment of the benefits of the river, each unit

getting a fair share.

200. With the third view gaining increased recognition and

application in the resolution of water disputes involving the issue of

allocation and distribution of waters of an inter-state river, the

Tribunal in reiteration noted the observations of the U.S. Supreme
247

Court in Kansas v. Colorado (supra) that the right of flowing water

is well-settled to be a right incident to property in the land and it is

a right publici juris and is of such character that whilst it is

common and equal to all through whose land it runs and that no

one can obstruct or divert it, yet it is one of the beneficial gifts of

providence so that each proprietor has a right to a just and

reasonable use of it as it passes through his land as long as it is not

wholly obstructed or diverted or no larger appropriation of the water

running through it is made than a just and reasonable use. The

Tribunal further held that it cannot be said to be wrongful or

injurious to a proprietor lower down if there is jus case. The theme

was further elaborated in Colorado v. Kansas (supra) with the

elaboration that the lower State is not entitled to have the stream

flow as it would in nature regardless of the need or use and if then

the upper State is devoting the water to a beneficial use, the

question would be, in the light of existing conditions in both the

States, whether and to what extent her action, injures the lower

State and her citizens by depriving them of a like or an actually

valuable, beneficial use. The observation of the U.S. Supreme Court

in State of New Jersey (supra) that a river is more than an
248

amenity being a treasure and that the competing riparian states

have real and substantial interests in it requiring best reconciliation

thereof was highlighted. It noted the exposition of the U.S. Supreme

Court in State of Connecticut (supra) that ―equality of right‖

applied to settle disputes with regard to allocation of water would

not connote equal division of waters of an inter-State stream but

would mean that the principles of right and equality should be

invoked having regard to the ―equal level or plane‖ on which all the

States stand, in point of power and right under the Constitutional

system.

201. The determination of the U.S. Supreme Court in State of

Colorado v. State of New Mexico (supra) that the rule of priority

should not be strictly applied where it would work more hardship

on the junior user than it would bestow benefits on the senior user,

was recorded. The opinion of Chief Justice Burger in the said

decision to the effect that each State through which the river passes

has a right to the benefit of water, but it is for the Court, as a

matter of discretion, to measure their relative rights and obligations

and to apportion the available water equitably, was taken note of in

particular. The following passage from the Halsbury‘s Laws of
249

England, 4th Edition, Vol. 49(2), paragraph 121 was extracted to

underscore the parity in the rights of co-riparian claimants to a

reasonable enjoyment and use of the water:-

―121. Rights and duties as to quality of water. The right
of a Riparian owner to the flow of water is subject to
certain qualifications with respect to the quantity of
water which he is entitled to receive. The right is subject
to the similar rights of other Riparian owners on the
same stream to the reasonable enjoyment of it, and each
Riparian owner has a right of action in respect of any
unreasonable use of the water by another Riparian
owner...

A Riparian owner must not use and apply the water so as
to cause any material injury or annoyance to his
neighbours opposite, above or below him, who have equal
rights to the use of the water and an equal duty towards
him.‖

202. The Tribunal next marked the advent of the Helsinki Rules of

1966 which rejected the Harmon doctrine and laid emphasis on the

need of equitable utilization of such international rivers. The said

Rules recognize equitable use of water by each basin State setting

out the factors, not exhaustive though, to be collectively taken into

consideration for working out the reasonable and equitable share of

the riparian states. The indicated factors, inter alia, include the

geography of the basin, the hydrology of the basin, the climate, past

utilization of waters, economic and social needs of each basin State,
250

population dependent on the waters of the basin in each basin

State, availability of other resources and the degree to which the

needs of a basin State may be satisfied without causing substantial

injury to a co-basin State. The emphasis clearly is that in

determining the reasonable and equitable share, all relevant factors

are to be considered together and a conclusion is to be reached on

the whole.

203. The Tribunal, in this regard, recalled that this Court in the

Presidential Reference in which the “Karnataka Cauvery Basin

Irrigation Protection Ordinance, 1991” fell for scrutiny had

reiterated the same law and principles to govern the equitable

allocation of water of an inter-state river between the different

riparian States. Paragraph 72 of the decision rendered by this Court

in the said proceedings was extracted.

204. In the background of the above exposition, the Tribunal

recorded that so long as the river flows are not wholly obstructed or

diverted or appropriation of the water by the upper riparian States

is not more than just and reasonable use, it cannot be said to be

wrongful or injurious to the right of the lower riparian State. It
251

stated that equitable apportionment would, thus, protect only those

rights to the water that were reasonably required and applied

especially in those cases where water was scarce or limited. It

emphasized that the water of a river being a treasure in a sense,

wasteful or inefficient use thereof cannot be approved and only

diligence and good faith would keep the privilege alive. It, however,

reflected that the theory of equitable apportionment pre-supposed

equitable and not equal rights and any order, direction, agreement

or treaty has to take into consideration the economic and social

needs of different riparian States. It reiterated that while

determining the reasonable and equitable share, all relevant factors

are to be cumulatively considered.

205. The Tribunal also took into consideration the report of the

71st Conference of the International Law Association held in Berlin

in August 2004 where the relevant factors necessary for

determining an equitable and reasonable use were again outlined.

The factors mentioned in the Helsinki Rules were retained along

with precise emphasis on the precept of collective consideration

thereof for reaching a conclusion qua apportionment of just and

equitable share of water of an inter-state river. Apart also from
252

adverting to the ―The Campione Consolidation of the ILA Rules on

International Water Resources, 1966-1999‖ which substantially

reiterated the above principles, the Tribunal also reminded itself of

the verdict of this Court that it was an acknowledged principle of

distribution and allocation of waters between the riparian States

that the same has to be done on the basis of equitable share of each

state, however leaving it open to decide such equitable share

depending on the facts of each case. The Tribunal, thus, concluded

that no doubt that prior use has to be given due weight because

cultivators have been irrigating their lands in the lower riparian

State as in the Delta in the case in hand for centuries, but that

factor has to be taken into consideration along with several other

factors for the purpose of determination of the just and equitable

share of water amongst the competing riparian states, more

particularly when the resources in demand were in short supply.

The Tribunal, therefore, held the view that though past utilization

was a relevant factor, yet it was possible that the circumstances in

the other riparian States could be such that their demands for

reasonable share might outweigh such past utilization of any

particular riparian State and, consequently, the Courts and
253

Tribunals would have ample power for taking into consideration the

overall relevant circumstances to curtail and modify the past uses

by any riparian State. This was more so in view of Article IV of the

Helsinki Rules which clearly indicate that each basin state is

entitled within its territory to a reasonable and equitable share in

the beneficial uses of the waters of an international drainage basin.

206. Reverting to the contextual facts and the controversy founded

thereon, the Tribunal analyzed the existing scenario and observed

that prior to the year 1924, the river Cauvery was in a state of flow

in the sense that whatever water came from the source and the

tributaries in the State of Mysore and Madras used to pass through

the Delta and the utilization of Cauvery water within the State of

Mysore was negligible compared to that in the State of Madras

especially in the Delta area. It further observed that the utilization

of Cauvery water so far as Kerala was concerned was virtually nil.

The situation started changing with the constructions of reservoirs

in Mysore and Mettur in Madras for which the flow of water of

Cauvery was regulated to a great extent.

254

207. The Tribunal apprised itself of the background and observed

that the main development and utilization of Cauvery basin before

1924 occurred in Madras mostly in the Delta area and it being the

lower riparian State, enjoyed almost full flow of river Cauvery as

well as its tributaries. It noted that as per the report submitted by

the Cauvery Fact Finding Committee in the year 1972, the inter se

utilization of waters of Cauvery by Tamil Nadu including the

Karaikal region of Union Territory of Puducherry, Mysore and

Kerala used to be 566.60 TMC, 176.82 TMC and 5 TMC

respectively. In the background of the Agreements of 1892 and

1924, the Tribunal recapitulated the persistent protests of the State

of Karnataka qua the restraints put on it on the use of the waters of

the Cauvery river for which it was not possible on its part to irrigate

lands even as contemplated under the Agreement of 1924. The plea

based on judicially enounced view that neither the upper riparian

State can claim paramount right to appropriate more water than

what is its reasonable requirement nor the lower riparian State can

claim any prescriptive right to the flow of water was noted. The

Tribunal, thus, accepted, as its guide, the principle that the waters

of an inter-State or international river are to be shared in a just and
255

equitable manner so as to serve the need and necessity of each

riparian State.

P.6 Determination of "irrigated areas" in Tamil Nadu and
Karnataka

208. With reference to the norms suggested by the party-States for

apportionment of Cauvery waters for pre and post Agreement of

1924 in the context of the irrigated areas corresponding to this time

phase, the Tribunal enumerated the following four categories, the

needs of irrigation whereof were required to be addressed:-

―(i) Areas which were developed before the agreement of
the year 1924.

(ii) Areas which have been contemplated for development
in terms of the agreement of the year 1924.

(iii) Areas which have been developed outside the
agreement from 1924 upto 2.6.1990, the date of the
constitution of the Tribunal. (i.e. from 1924 to 1990)

(iv) Areas which may be allowed to be irrigated on the
principle of equitable apportionment.‖

209. Having laid the preface for the discernment of the areas

developed for irrigation in the competing States prior to, under and

beyond the Agreement of 1924 and also areas which could be

allowed to be irrigated on the principle of equitable apportionment,
256

the Tribunal took up the claims of the competing States in

succession.

210. Qua the areas developed by Madras/Tamil Nadu, it principally

adjudged the entitlements on the touchstone of Clauses 10(v),

10(xii) and 10(xiv) of the Agreement of 1924 together with the

Administrative Report, 1923-24, CFFC Report, 1972, C.C. Patel

Committee Report as well as the reports of the Irrigation

Commission and National Commission for Agriculture, 1976. While

accounting for the water requirement for the second crop in the

irrigated areas grown prior to and in terms of the 1924 Agreement,

the same was disallowed for the areas beyond it. Having regard to

the scarcity of water resources in the Cauvery Basin and the

principle of equitable apportionment, it noted that the practice of

double crops in the same field during an agricultural season

required more water and, thus, the areas where the cultivable land

is more and the availability of water is a constraint, the projects are

designed to cover larger areas for cultivation of light irrigated crops.

It observed that since paddy was high water consuming crop, it

would cover smaller areas than semi-dry crops which needed lesser

water for which the extent of areas could sometimes be 2 to 3 times.
257

Having regard to the fact that in a country like India, where the

bulk of population was engaged in agriculture for its livelihood, the

Government policy was to cover as large area as possible, a concept

known as ―Extensive Irrigation‖. It was of the view that in a water

deficit basin like Cauvery, the annual intensity of irrigation (Annual

Intensity of Irrigation means acreage – area under irrigation) is a

very significant factor and needed to be considered keeping in view

the large number of small farmers for sustenance of their livelihood

and bearing that in mind, it construed it to be proper to restrict the

annual intensity of irrigation to 100% and, accordingly, allowed the

extent of areas to be irrigated in each State depending upon the

availability of water. It referred to the CFFC Report vis-a-vis Tamil

Nadu wherein it was observed qua the crops of Kuruvai, Samba and

Thaladi that savings could be effected by (i) restricting the double

crop paddy area; (ii) introduction of shorter duration variety in

place of Samba and; (iii) growing crops requiring less water.

211. The Tribunal, thus, determined the necessity to restrict the

double crop area as far as possible. Further, the recommendation

of the National Commission on Agriculture, 1976 to the effect that

rice should be grown in no rainy season area or low rainfall areas
258

only if the available irrigation supplies cannot be put to more

economic use for other crops was noted in endorsement of this

finding. It noted as well the opinion of Dr. M.S. Swaminathan,

witness for the State of Tamil Nadu, to the same effect.

212. Keeping in mind the fair and equitable share principle, it

expressed that in order to assess reasonable water requirements, it

would be essential to first consider the extent of areas which had

already been developed vis-a-vis the development permitted under

the Agreement and thereafter consider the just and fair claim of

development for irrigation as placed by the party-States before it. It

noted that the total claim of the party-States for development of

irrigation in the territories did far exceed the availability of waters

which called for imperative restrictions. It mentioned that in the

State of Tamil Nadu, the entire development in the past and future

was based on paddy cultivation which was a high water consuming

crop and the State had almost reached the ultimate potential of its

irrigation development by 1974 as was evident from the CFFC

Report and also as claimed by it. In contrast, qua Karnataka, the

Tribunal marked that in the past, it had been growing paddy

wherever it could get irrigation facility but could not complete the
259

development as contemplated under the 1924 Agreement by 1974.

It, however, noted that the State of Karnataka had embarked on the

construction of reservoir schemes some years previous to the

completion of 50 years of the 1924 Agreement and along with the

progress of the reservoirs, kept on releasing waters to the newly

opened areas for irrigation so that by the year 1990, its

contemplated development was almost thrice in extent to the

development achieved in 1974. The fact that in comparison, Kerala

could hardly mark any development of irrigation except under

minor irrigation in a total area of about 50,000 acres till 1990, was

noticed. The Tribunal took up the task of ascertaining the extent of

development which could be allowed to the party-States and the

crop water requirement therefor so that a fair and reasonable

allocation of surplus water would become possible. It observed that

for equitable distribution, one of the considerations ought to be the

existing development of irrigation. Keeping this in view, the double

crop developed beyond the provisions of the 1924 Agreement,

whether in Tamil Nadu or in Karnataka, was not taken note of. The

Tribunal was, in this regard, also impelled by the fact that equity

demanded that the farming families should at least be having one
260

single crop which they could raise for their livelihood with the

support of irrigation facilities and thereby derive the benefit from

the natural river water resources which was common to all. In this

respect, the Tribunal underlined that the paddy crop should be so

planned as to make maximum advantage of the rainy season in the

Cauvery basin area, relaxation however being extended to areas

over which second paddy crop was being grown prior to the

Agreement of 1924 as well as second crop permitted by the said

Agreement by way of extension. While identifying the areas

developed or undergoing development in the State of Tamil Nadu

beyond the entitlements contemplated in the 1924 Agreement, the

Tribunal applied the following criteria, namely, no double

crop/perennial crop de hors the 1924 Agreement; no area for

summer paddy; the area of summer paddy raised prior to 1924 to

be replaced by semi-dry crop; annual intensity of irrigation to be

restricted to 100%; cropping period to be restricted within the

irrigation season, i.e., from 1st June to 31st January and ambitious

Lift Irrigation Schemes to be discouraged. Apart from this, the

Tribunal excluded the areas beyond the Cauvery Basin as well as

those utilized for high water consuming crop like sugarcane.
261

Keeping in view the shortfall in supply of water, the Tribunal, based

on contemporaneous data, did also scale down areas

proportionately under some schemes but did account for dry areas

sought to be catered by the corresponding projects.

213. Applying these principles generally, after an exhaustive

analysis of the relevant facts, it did fix the areas under the afore-

mentioned four categories qua Madras/Tamil Nadu as hereinbelow:

(i) Area under irrigation in Madras/Tamil Nadu prior to
1924 Agreement 15.193 lakh acres.

(ii) Area for development as per the provisions of 1924
Agreement 6.19 lakh acres.

(iii) Area developed/under ongoing development beyond
the entitlements contemplated in the 1924 Agreement
between 1924 and 1990 2.06 lakh acres.

214. Thus, the Tribunal under the above three heads together with

the area developed/under minor irrigation, which it ascertained to

be 1.25 lakh acres, determined the total area in Tamil Nadu which

had been developed prior to 1924 along with those developed

under ongoing development in the State beyond the entitlement

contemplated under the 1924 Agreement upto 1990 at 24.71 lakh

acres. As the narration to this effect would demonstrate, the
262

Tribunal, while determining this area as a whole, did take note of

the crop pattern, the locations thereof in the Basin with reference

to the corresponding projects/schemes/channels, etc. and the

area developed under minor irrigation.

215. In the process of examination of the claim of the State of

Karnataka with regard to the development of the irrigated areas in

the State in the Cauvery Basin, the Tribunal as in the case of

Tamil Nadu did cast its scrutiny over the same four categories,

namely, areas developed before the Agreement of 1924; those

contemplated for development in terms thereof; those developed

outside the Agreement up to 02.06.1990 and the areas which

could be allowed to be irrigated on the principle of equitable

apportionment. It noted that at the commencement of the century,

irrigation in the then State of Mysore was mainly from direct

diversion channels from the rivers together with the system of tank

irrigation which was mentionably quite widespread. As there was

no reservoir, the waters of the Cauvery and its tributaries like

Kabini, Hemawathy, Harangi and Suvaranwathi used to flow

through the State but their ultimate destination was the Delta

area of the then State of Madras. The Tribunal mentioned that
263

prior to the 1924 Agreement, irrigation in Mysore was mostly

through Anicut Canal and minor irrigation and as admitted by the

State of Tamil Nadu in their statement, Karnataka had developed

only 3.14 lakh acres of land by 1924. Karnataka, however, stated

that its irrigated area under the projects at the time of the 1924

Agreement was 3.1 lakh acres which increased to 3.14 acres in

1928. On an analysis of the facts available on record, the Tribunal

accepted the irrigated area of the State of Karnataka before 1924

to be 3.43 lakh acres which, of course, included areas covered by

minor irrigation.

216. In respect of the entitlement of the States in terms of the

Agreement of 1924, the Tribunal referred to, in particular, Clauses

10(iv), (xii), (xiii) (xiv) to determine the new development of

irrigation and extension of irrigation thereunder. It noted that

there was no time limit for the envisaged development of irrigation

under the various clauses of the Agreement and proceeded on the

premise that once the construction on the project envisaged under

any term/clause thereof had been started, that ought to be

considered as permissible even though its completion date had

spilled over 1974. The relevant provisions of the Agreement were
264

referred to precisely to recall the entitlements of the parties thereto

as defined thereby permitting extension/development of the areas

for irrigation in the time to come. To draw sustenance for the view

that it was permissible to take account a project, the construction

whereof had been started under any term/clause of the Agreement

of 1924, though the completion date thereof was after 1974, the

Tribunal referred to the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in

State of Wyomoing v. State of Colorado (supra) as well as

Article VIII (2)(a) of the Helsinki Rules to the effect that a project

was entitled to priority from the date when the actual work of

construction had begun and not from a date anterior to the time

when there was a fixed and definite purpose to take it up and

carry it through. On this basis, the plea of the State of Tamil Nadu

to the contrary was negated and it was concluded that all the

projects on which construction had started prior to 1974 would be

covered under Category II (entitlement under the terms of the

1924 Agreement) irrespective of the date of completion provided

those projects did qualify otherwise under any of the clauses of the

Agreement. From the materials on record, the Tribunal noted that

the development achieved by Karnataka under the 1924
265

Agreement till 1974 under Clauses 10(iv), (xii), (xiii) and (xiv) taken

together was 2.15 lakh acres, though it was entitled to achieve

7.45 lakh acres. It also recorded that the planned irrigated area

claimed by Karnataka under the Agreement was 14.18 acres (net),

i.e., single crop and 17.04 lakh acres (gross) indicating single +

second crop. These figures represented the statistics both prior to

and after 1974. It was noted that the State had claimed second

crop area under the projects involved while setting out the gross

plan area of irrigation as 17.046 lakh acres which included 2.862

lakh acres as second crop area.

217. The Tribunal undertook an exhaustive exercise to examine

the tenability of the claim under the aforementioned clauses of the

Agreement and accepted the area permissible for development of

irrigation under the 1924 Agreement, i.e., Category II to be 7.23

lakh acres. As would be evident from the table, while allowing this

figure, the Tribunal did take into account the variety of the crops

involved and the extent of their coverage/acreage (which included

Kharif Paddy, Perennial Crops, Kharif semi-dry crop, Rabi-semi

dry crop). The Tribunal recorded that like Tamil Nadu, the State of

Karnataka had extended irrigation by way of minor irrigation and
266

there was extension of new areas under the existing projects and

new projects after 1974.

218. Vis-a-vis the areas developed/under ongoing development in

the State beyond the entitlements contemplated in the 1924

Agreement upto the year 1990, the Tribunal marked the claim of

the State of Karnataka to be 20.98 lakh acres under various

projects. Having regard to the date of the reference of the dispute

to it, it adopted 1990 to be the cut-off year for considering the

equities between the party-States in the matter of ascertaining the

requirement of water. It, therefore, as a corollary, decided to take

note of the developments that had taken place in between.

Dealing with the plea of the State of Tamil Nadu that the relevant

date for the apportionment should be 1974 when the period of 50

years from the date of execution of the Agreement of 1924 had

expired, the Tribunal observed that no attempt had ever been

made by the State of Tamil Nadu either before it or before this

Court to contend that the areas which could be irrigated during

the pendency of the proceedings should be those which had been

developed by Karnataka only upto the year 1974 and on the other
267

hand, the parties had pursued their claim of apportionment of

water with reference to the constitution of the date of the Tribunal.

219. With regard to the claim of the State of Karnataka in respect

of the area of planned development as made by it in June, 1990 as

20.98 lakh acres, the Tribunal observed that it included areas

developed prior to the Agreement of 1924, permitted in terms of

the said agreement and developed or committed for development

outside the Agreement upto June, 1990, though such areas had

been planned and schemes had been put into execution much

before the cut-off year. From the data furnished by the State of

Karnataka in support of its area of development as in June 1990

to be 20.98 lakh acres, the Tribunal discerned that the additional

area which was under progress for irrigation development outside

the Agreement was 10.30 lakh acres, by that time.

220. In the process of verification of the claim under this head,

i.e., areas developed or under ongoing development beyond the

entitlement under the Agreement of 1924 and upto the year 1990,

the Tribunal examined the relevant facts qua every individual

project and returned a finding that the State of Karnataka was
268

entitled to an area of 6.91 lakh acres. To this, an area of 1.26 lakh

acres was allowed under minor irrigation. Thus, in all, the

Tribunal allowed 18.85 lakh acres of area under Categories I, II

and III, i.e., area existing under irrigation prior to 1974, permitted

to be developed under the different provisions of the Agreement

and the area and minor irrigation works during the period form

1924 to 1990.

221. In arriving at this figure, the Tribunal did not take note of the

development of the second crop in view of the scarcity of water in

the Basin and considered each item of claim on the yardstick of

merit and equity, judged on the touchstone of the entitlements

under the Agreement and the ground realities. In many cases, it

kept in mind the rainfall pattern and support and restricted the

crop variety apart from suggesting the timings thereof. The scope

of several projects were limited/curtailed on the index of 100%

annual intensity of irrigation and ayacuts (irrigated areas) served

by gravity flow were generally allowed and those tended by lift

schemes were excluded. To ensure economy of consumption of

water, crop pattern was also suggested. The Tribunal, however,

clarified that though the claims of the States had been examined
269

in respect of areas requiring irrigation in the four categories, none

of these was to get any priority or precedence over the other in the

matter of allocation of water and all were to be treated at par

according to the respective need and necessity.

P.7 Assessment of water for "irrigation needs" in Tamil Nadu
and Karnataka

222. The Tribunal next delved into the exercise of making an

assessment of the water required for irrigation for the areas

delineated for the competing States. It noted that on the aspect of

such requirement, the States had produced documents including

information provided in the common format and had examined

witnesses who are experts in the field. It was indicated in

particular that having regard to the demand of the States, i.e.,

566 TMC by Tamil Nadu, 466 TMC by Karnataka, 100 TMC by

Kerala and 9 TMC by Union Territory of Puducherry, some

curtailments were indispensable in view of the total yield of the

Basin computed on 50% dependability at 740 TMC. The Tribunal

in order to ensure equitable share to each State, adopted the

following considerations for the purpose:-

―i) The State of Tamil Nadu was having three paddy
crops in the delta area as well as in some other areas. In
270

the same field they were having first Kuruvai and
followed by Thaladi and in the rest, Samba crop which
takes a longer time to mature was being grown. After
examining the records it appeared that Madras/Tamil
Nadu was having Kuruvai followed by Thaladi in about
95,000 acres prior to the agreement of the year 1924 in
the delta area. From the agreement of 1924 read with its
Annexures it shall appear that the State of Madras was
allowed to extend double crop in the same field by 90,000
acres (70,000 acres in the old delta and 20,000 acres in
the Mettur Project area). The total being 1,85,000 acres.
The practice of growing double crop by the cultivators in
the aforesaid area of 95,000 acres was being followed
much before the execution of the agreement; it is difficult
to direct to discontinue that practice. Same is the
position so far the balance of 90,000 acres are concerned
because that was permitted under the terms of the
agreement and has been specifically mentioned in the
Cauvery Mettur Project Report (1921) as well. All these
aspects have been discussed in earlier chapters. But it is
an admitted position that State of Madras/Tamil Nadu
with the copious flows of water being available started
growing double crop of paddy in the same field in
different areas. The total of such areas has been
discussed in earlier chapters. Similarly Karnataka also
followed a practice of growing double crops which were
not permitted by the agreement. In this background it is
considered necessary in the end of justice not to take
note for the purpose of apportioning the waters of inter-
State river Cauvery in respect of growing second paddy
crop or any other crop in the same field in the same
agriculture year except in the areas in which these
practices were being followed prior to 1924 agreement or
was specifically permitted under the terms of the
agreement.

ii) The State of Karnataka under the terms of the
agreement of the year 1924 was allowed to grow sugar-
cane only on 40,000 acres which it has raised to about
271

70,000 to 90,000 acres. It is well known that crop like
sugarcane requires much more water, affecting equitable
distribution of waters. Therefore, note is being taken of
areas for sugarcane only upto 40000 acres as provided in
the agreement for the purpose of apportioning the waters
of inter-State river Cauvery .

iii) It is admitted position that both the States were
having summer crop including summer paddy from the
waters of river Cauvery. When there is so much scarcity
of water in the basin, they have to be restricted from
growing any summer paddy except in some area where it
was being grown prior to 1924 agreement, even that is to
be replaced by any light irrigated crop within the
irrigation season.

iv) The delta of water claimed on behalf of the two
States in respect of different crops including paddy have
to be reduced in view of the new variety of paddy and
other inputs which have been developed of late which
require lesser delta of water.

v) Trans-basin diversion takes out the water of the
basin to another basin. As such no note is being taken
for the purpose of determining the need and the equitable
share of the each State in the waters of the inter-State
river Cauvery in respect of any trans-basin diversion
already made or proposed for providing extra waters.

vi) Lift schemes will not be considered for water
allocation.‖

223. The stand of the two States, i.e., Tamil Nadu and Karnataka,

that admittedly the water requirement of the crops over the years

(after 1920) have been reduced with the new variety of seeds of

paddy and semi-dry and dry crops was recorded. The position

taken by the State of Karnataka that it was not going to grow wet
272

crop which consumed more water in the new project areas and that

only semi-dry crops could be grown thereafter and water would be

provided according to the requirements of the plans was noted as

well. After the examination of the expert witnesses produced by the

States and in course of the arguments, the Tribunal, by its order

dated 12.11.2002, required the States to file affidavits furnishing

details of the water requirement as well as the crops which they

were growing with an indication of the minimum crop water

requirement in view of the scarcity of water in river Cauvery.

Resultantly, Tamil Nadu filed its affidavit on 08.07.2004 (Ext. TN

1665) and Karnataka did so on 28.03.2003 (Ext. KAR 518)

providing the details of, amongst others, the crops, the

requirements of water including the Delta (water depth) required in

different seasons in different projects and also supported the data

furnished with various documents. It is necessary to state here that

the acceptance of Tamil Nadu‘s affidavit has been seriously

questioned before on the simon pure reason that the deponent was

not made available for cross-examination. In defence of the

affidavit, it is the stand of the State of Tamil Nadu that it was a

compilation of all that had been brought on record earlier. We have
273

already dealt with the same. We only repeat that what is admissible

having already been recorded on any public report shall alone be

looked into.

224. The Tribunal mentioned that till 1928, the States of Mysore

and Madras did resort to age old cultivation mostly of paddy crop

wherever irrigation facilities were available in the Basin and

whereas in Mysore, the paddy cultivation was provided irrigation

through anicut canals or tanks, the same was the case also in

Tamil Nadu where bulk of paddy cultivation was in the Cauvery

Delta Area fed by Grand Anicut and through other Anicuts across

Cauvery, Bhavani and Amaravathi and later on, with the

installation of the Krishna Raja Sagara Reservoir (KRS) and the

Mettur Reservoir as per the provisions of the 1924 Agreement,

Mysore and Madras respectively extended their irrigation to new

areas. The Tribunal noted that though after the construction of

these two major reservoirs facilitating large scale irrigation facilities,

the bulk of cultivation in both the States remained confined to

Paddy crop, yet in Karnataka sugarcane which is a perennial crop

was also resorted to.

274

225. The Tribunal next took on record the existing crops of the two

States as per the information furnished in their common formats.

Qua Tamil Nadu, it recorded that in respect of the Cauvery Delta

system, ―Kuruvai‖ and ―Thaladi‖ crops of paddy and Samba crops

were being grown. In other projects of the State, sugarcane, banana

and other crops (groundnut and garden crop) had been introduced

from 1980 onwards. Besides, in the Anicut system, summer paddy

in some projects had also been introduced. Tamil Nadu in its

common format indicated as well that the normal pattern in the

Cauvery Basin was to raise the first crop of short duration paddy

known as ―Kurubhai‖ in June with the waters of South-West

monsoon flowing down the river whereafter a second crop of paddy

of medium term duration known as ―Thaladi‖ was grown on the

same area with the benefit of North-East monsoon to be harvested

by January – February. It was stated that in the rest of the areas,

only one single crop of paddy of long term duration known as

―Samba‖ was grown from July/August to be harvested in

December/January. In addition thereto, in other riverine tracks

subject to availability of supply, two paddy crops were being grown

followed by a cash crop like green gram and black gram.
275

226. Karnataka, in its statement, elaborated on the crop pattern by

indicating that in the Cauvery Basin in the State, Ragi, Jawar,

Sesame, Groundnut, Redgram and short duration pulses were

common Kharif crops (monsoon crops) under rain fed conditions

and in some areas, where there were pockets of retentive soils or

where late rain occurred, some Rabi crops like Jawar, Bengalgram

and cotton were being cultivated. It was indicated as well that

failure of rains was very common in these areas which were, as

such, severely drought prone for which appropriate doses of

irrigation were necessary to help increase the productivity and

stability of the yield. It was explained that in the Cauvery Basin,

particularly in the old irrigation projects in Karnataka, rice and

sugarcane were the main crops under irrigation, but in years of

inadequate monsoons, rice was discouraged and light irrigated

crops like ragi, groundnut, etc. were grown in rabi/summer.

Karnataka explained further that in the new irrigation projects,

there was no provision to grow paddy even during Kharif season

except in limited areas to a limited extent. It was underlined that

irrigation in the State, including the Cauvery Basin Projects, was

aimed at extensive rather than intensive use of water to afford
276

protection to the drought affected areas. It was also mentioned that

in all the new projects, emphasis was on the growing of light

irrigated crops and that cropping pattern was largely Kharif and to

a limited extent Rabi. Karnataka stated that in the irrigated areas,

rice was the pre-dominant crop, whereas in the light irrigated areas,

Ragi was the main crop followed by maize and potato and that

depending on the availability of water, sugarcane, mulberry,

coconut and other fruit crops were also grown. The Tribunal

referred to the report of the National Commission of Agriculture,

1976 which mentioned that in India, rice was grown in about 40%

of the irrigated area under all crops and that rice crop was the

largest consumer of irrigation water accounting for 50% of the total

irrigation supply, next to that it was wheat which consumed 15%

followed by other cereals which accounted for 12% of the irrigation

supplies. The report, as the Tribunal has noted, inter alia, recorded

that in the southern States, wherever the heavier black cotton soil

was located in the valleys and the lighter red soils were higher up, it

was a good arrangement to confine growing rice in the valleys and

reserving the lighter soils for light irrigated crops, as otherwise

apart from consuming more water, due to greater percolation
277

losses, the percolated water would make the heavy soil lower down

soggy, thereby rendering it unfit for growing any crop other than

rice. The Tribunal noted the view of the National Commission on

Agriculture that rice should be grown preferably where there was

good support of rainfall which had a permeability of less than 5 mm

per day and that as water resources were scanty, irrigation

supplies, more particularly to the low rainfall areas, was required to

be put to the most economical use to extend the benefit of irrigation

to as large a number of people as possible. This view was

subscribed to by Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, a renowned agricultural

scientist, who was examined as an expert witness for the State of

Tamil Nadu and who endorsed the recommendation of the

Commission that a second rice crop, particularly in the non-rainy

season, should be grown in an area only if the irrigation supplies

cannot be put to better use. The witness, however, observed that

as soil and climate in the Delta area in Tamil Nadu was very

conducive for growing paddy, there should not be any restriction on

the number of paddy crops grown in the same field in the same

agricultural year. The Tribunal was of the view that having regard

to the principles of equitable apportionment, the approach in the
278

matter of allocation ought to be balanced so much so that the

upper riparian States have equal right to develop along with those

located in the downstream. It reminisced the stages of evolution of

the principle of equitable apportionment, now recognized

throughout the world, to meet the necessity of the dependent

millions of riverine dwellers justifying that one crop in one

agriculture year to every cultivator ought to be allowed. It also

recalled its decision to permit growing of ―Kuruvai‖ and ―Thaladi‖

along with ―Samba‖ in the areas which were grown prior to the

Agreement of 1924 as well as in the areas permitted by the

Agreement of 1924. It, however, keeping in view the shortage of

water in the Basin, reiterated that the second crop beyond the areas

covered by the above two categories could not be permitted. Vis-a-

vis Karnataka, the Tribunal recounted that as paddy and sugarcane

were more water consuming crops, they had been restricted to the

areas for the period prior to 1924 as well as permitted under the

terms of the Agreement. The evidence of Dr. I.C. Mahapatra, the

expert witness for the State of Karnataka, that a suitable cropping

pattern in the State would include ragi, pulses, oil seeds, sugarcane

and one crop of rice along with horticultural crops of fruits, flowers
279

and useful areas was taken note of. His testimony to the effect that

two crops of rice which were being cultivated in some parts of

Karnataka ought to be discouraged was also accounted for. The

Tribunal took on record the statement of this witness to the effect

that Tamil Nadu had two or three crops of rice in different parts of

the State as the temperature in the Cauvery Delta was not a

limiting factor. The witness, however, emphasized on the rainfall

pattern to design the cropping model depending on the relation to

water availability. In response to a query, this witness observed

that the farmers of Tamil Nadu were anxious to grow Kuruvai crop,

as it was a short term crop and its cultivation process in putting

fields saplings, etc. could be started by the end of June. The

Tribunal mentioned that for growing Kuruvai, the State of Tamil

Nadu was primarily dependent on the release of water by Karnataka

to Mettur reservoir.

227. The Tribunal next adverted to the evidence of Dr. J.S. Kanwar,

expert witness on behalf of the State of Karnataka, who, in his

affidavit, analyzed the various aspects of managing agriculture in

the drought areas in the Cauvery Basin lying in the State. It

contemplated area receiving less than 750 mm rainfall over 20% of
280

the year as drought areas where the percentage of irrigated areas

was less than 30% of the culturable area. The fact that 28 Taluks in

Karnataka have been identified as drought-prone areas by the

Irrigation Commission within the Cauvery Basin was taken note of

by the Tribunal, more particularly with reference to the details

thereof as furnished in the affidavit of the witness. The testimony

of Dr. Kanwar to the effect that the lands in Karnataka were mostly

red sandy soil and red loamy soil which have low water holding

capacity requiring artificial irrigation by way of artificial supplies

and not by pattern of rainfall as is available in the drought areas of

the States and that 28 drought prone taluqs, thus, necessarily

needed protected irrigation for mitigating the effect of drought, was

taken note of.

228. The Tribunal marked the definition of ―crop water

requirement‖ as provided in the Government of India guidelines as

the depth of water needed for achieving full production potential.

The fact that the crop water requirement takes note of the

topography of the land, water in-take characteristics of the soil and

its irrigability class besides climatic conditions was noticed. It also

took into account the observations of the CFFC with regard to the
281

nature of crops which were grown in the two States. In Mysore,

mostly all the crops were grown in the Kharif season alone, and the

extent of rabi and summer crop was very small, and the areas

under ragi, jowar, pulses, etc., which were mostly rain-fed, were

predominant. For Mysore, the CFFC concluded that ragi was the

major crop accounting for 44% of the area followed by paddy

claiming 21%. It mentioned as well that the crop season in the

State for paddy was from June - July to December-January.

229. Vis-a-vis Tamil Nadu, the Cauvery Fact Finding Committee

expressed that the Cauvery delta was the most important

agricultural track and almost the entire area was under paddy. It

was mentioned that agricultural operations in the Delta start with

the advent of freshets (rush of fresh water) in the river with the

commencement of South-West monsoon and the Mettur reservoir is

opened for irrigation only when the said monsoon actively sets in.

It affirmed that in some areas, the first crop of paddy ―Kuruvai‖ is

grown with 105 days duration and after the harvest of this crop, a

second shorter duration crop known as ―Thaladi‖ is grown. It also

mentioned about the long term crop ―Samba‖ of 180 days duration

which was a major crop in the Delta. The Tribunal, in the above
282

premise, observed that the practice was necessary to be changed

and the water depths (Delta), which were provided by these States

for their crops were required to be revised in order to ensure a fair

deal to all the cultivators of the Basin States. Referring to the CFFC

Report, the Tribunal took cognizance of the fact that in the old

channels in Karnataka, the Delta varied from 5.2 ft to 6.3 ft. and in

the newer projects from 5.3 ft. to 6.6 ft. which suggested that even

in the newer systems, the high Delta indicated excessive use. The

Tribunal also did not disregard the observation of the CFFC that in

the circumstances, if the Kharif Ragi could be grown under irrigated

conditions instead of paddy, there would be saving in water without

any economic detriment to the farmers. The fact that Karnataka

had categorically stated before the Tribunal that in its new projects,

the State Government was planning to raise only semi-dry crop,

was noted. Vis-a-vis Tamil Nadu, the Tribunal recorded that in the

case of the Cauvery Delta system which covered the major irrigated

area, the Delta varied from 5.3 ft. in 1901 to 4.2 ft in 1971 and in

the new projects like Cauvery Mettur project, Lower Bhavani and

Mettur Canals, the Delta arrived in 1971 had been in the range of 4
283

ft. to 5.9 ft. The following recommendations of the Cauvery Fact

Finding Committee to effect savings were taken note of as well:-

(a) Restricting the double crop paddy area.

(b) Introduction of short duration variety in place

of samba.

(c) Growing crops requiring less water.

230. As from the pleadings of the parties and the data furnished by

them, it appeared to the Tribunal that excessive water was being

used for raising of crops by the party States, it, during the course of

hearing, on 12.11.2002, directed them as well as the Union

Territory of Puducherry to file affidavits disclosing the steps already

taken to reduce the requirement of water for cultivation and likely

to be taken in near future indicating as well the minimum Delta

that would be required for different crop varieties in their areas.

231. Accordingly, to reiterate, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu filed their

respective affidavits marked as Ext. KAR-518 and Ext. TN–1665 in

which they furnished details of the parameters normally used in the

computation of crop water requirement, i.e., crop duration, ET crop,

puddling requirements, percolation losses, effective rainfall and
284

system efficiency. In the compilations so furnished, the States

elaborated the particulars vis-a-vis their different projects/systems.

Whereas Tamil Nadu recorded its crop water requirement to be

444.15 TMC for an area of 25.824 lakh acres with a separate

demand of 68.9 TMC for an area of 3.445 lakh acres under minor

irrigation and 10 TMC on the count of reservoir evaporation losses,

Karnataka registered a claim of 381.71 TMC for cropped area of

25.27 lakh acres including therein 71.3 TMC for an area of 3.30

lakh acres under minor irrigation. In addition, Karnataka

demanded 28.158 TMC for its proposed projects covering an area of

2.008 lakh acres to which the Tribunal responded by observing that

these proposed projects could be considered subject to the

availability of water after meeting the requirements of the existing

and ongoing projects, domestic water, industrial water,

environmental needs, etc.

232. Before undertaking the actual computation of the water

requirement on the basis of the information furnished by the

States, the Tribunal dealt with the aspect of trans basin diversion of

waters of river Cauvery or its Tributaries. In this regard, it held a

view that normally, all the available water in a river basin should be
285

utilised to meet the in-basin requirements, i.e., different beneficial

uses like drinking water for human and animal population,

irrigation, hydro-power generation, industrial use and

environmental protection, etc. and that after meeting such

requirements, if there is still any surplus of water, the same could

be considered for transfer to other needy basin(s). However having

regard to the admitted position that the yield in Cauvery was much

less than the claims by different riparian States, the Tribunal

eventually concluded that no note can be taken of the claims made

by the States for trans basin diversion already made or proposed for

any purpose. In arriving at this determination, it noted that though

in the Helsinki Rules of 1966, reference had been made to basin

States, yet it was of the opinion that diversion could not be resorted

to by any one of the riparian States, at the cost of other lower

riparian States affecting their irrigation, economy and social needs.

The view expressed by the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal and the

Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal, in substance, is that diversion

of water to another watershed may be permitted, but normally in

absence of an agreement, the prudent course may be to limit the

diversion to the surplus water left after liberally allowing for the
286

pressing needs of the basin areas. Reference was also made to the

observation of the U.S. Supreme Court in State of New Jersey v.

State of New York (supra) that removal of water to a different

watershed obviously must be allowed at times, unless the States are

to be deprived of the most beneficial use on formal grounds. The

comment of the Expert Committee, 1973 headed by Shri C.C. Patel,

as set up by the Government of India, to study the report of the

CFFC and suggest the scope of economy in the use of Cauvery

Water, that since the basin itself was short of water, trans-basin

transfers were not desirable, was given due weight as well.

233. The Tribunal, after having determined the areas in the

Cauvery basin over which the States of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka

were entitled to irrigate and having as well determined the nature of

crops grown and ought to be grown, keeping in view the criteria

applied, i.e., no double crop/perennial crop de hors the 1924

Agreement, no summer paddy and area under summer paddy

existing prior to 1924 to be replaced by any semi-dry crop,

proceeded to make the apportionment of the Cauvery Waters for

irrigation. In undertaking its exercise, the Tribunal took note of the

details of the various parameters furnished by the States mainly in
287

respect of two categories of crops, i.e., Paddy and its varieties and

semi-dry crops (during Kharif and Rabi season). The parameters

were enumerated thus:-

              Paddy             Semi-dry crops
1. Crop duration Crop duration
2. Puddling Main field preparation
3. E.T. Crop E.T. Crop
(Evapo-transpiration) (Evapo-transpiration)

4. Percolation loss -
5. Effective rainfall Effective rainfall
6. System efficiency System efficiency.

234. The States of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, as per the orders of

the Tribunal, also filed their crop calendars. Qua Tamil Nadu, the

duration of the three varieties of paddy were shown to be:-

             (i) Kuruvai               105 days
(ii) Thaladi 135 days
(iii) Samba 150 days

235. The Tribunal, with the replacement of different variety of seeds

of Samba Paddy, observed that the duration of the said crop should

be reduced to 135 days or near about that. It was also of the

opinion that ―Navarai' crop of Tamil Nadu grown between the first

week of December and last week of March ought to be replaced by

any light irrigated crop within the irrigation season of June -

January. The aspect that identical economy of water should be
288

practised in Amaravathi and Lower Bhavani Project was also

stressed upon. The Tribunal recalled that the principal crops raised

in the Cauvery basin in Karnataka were Kharif paddy, kharif semi-

dry, i.e., ragi, maize etc; rabi semi-dry, i.e., groundnut, pulses, etc.

together with perennial crops like sugarcane, mulberry, garden

crops, etc. besides summer crops, i.e., rabi/summer paddy and rabi

summer semi-dry. In view of the scarcity of water, the Tribunal

excluded summer paddy and summer semi-dry crops and recorded

the view that it would be prudent on the part of Karnataka to go in

for a paddy crop of medium duration which would give higher yield.

The fact that the State Government had successfully persuaded the

farmers to introduce short duration paddy variety of 120 to 130

days which resulted in saving of about 10% water compared to the

medium duration of the variety was noted. It suggested that the

State Government of Karnataka should also encourage, as far as

possible, replacement of the area of Kharif paddy by Ragi which is a

Kharif semi-dry crop. On the basis of the said analysis, the

Tribunal clearly emphasized upon the need of reduction of crop

period to ensure economic and prudent use of water and also

suggested modification of the crop pattern in chime therewith.
289

236. The Tribunal took into account the claims made by the States

for different quantities of water vis-a-vis the corresponding stages

required for different crops, namely:-

1. Nursery Preparation

2. Puddling while preparing the main field.

3. Evapo Transpiration

4. Percolation Losses

5. Effective rainfall and

6. System Efficiency

237. It was noted that in deciding the reasonable Delta (water

depth) required for a crop, all these factors had a vital role. On the

aspect of land preparation, the Tribunal observed that as per

Karnataka, its crop water requirement in respect of semi-dry crops

was about 100 mm for field preparation in respect of semi-dry crops

before the crops are sown and that normally the operation of sowing

the seed was undertaken when the field was wet for easy ploughing

and as wetting of the soil by rainfall was not certain as it depended

upon the natural rainfall, provision for wetting the soil was to be

made so that the sowing of the crop as per the crop calendar would

become possible. The Tribunal, in this regard, adopted the overall

Delta for these crops as indicated in the project reports of

Karnataka.

290

238. With regard to puddling, the Tribunal marked the emphasis of

Tamil Nadu on the requirement of water for this factor as most of

the areas in the basin including the Delta grow paddy. The

Tribunal, however, accepted the data furnished by the party-States

in their respective statements as those were construed to be

reasonable.

239. On the criterion of Evapo-Transpiration – E.T. Crop, the

Tribunal noted that the scientific computation of this parameter

depended on various factors, namely, (i) temperature along with day

and night weather conditions; (ii) elevation/altitude of the field; (iii)

solar radiation; (iv) sunshine hours; (v) wind velocity; (vi)

humidity, etc.

240. It gathered from the Government of India guidelines issued in

May, 1984 that the effect of climate on crop water requirements was

given by the reference of evapo-transpiration. It referred to the

formula to compute the Evapo-Transpiration of a particular crop

with the observation that the said factor for a particular crop grown

in different regions would differ because of the variation in one or

more or several ingredients thereof. Though the Tribunal took note
291

of the dissension between the two States with regard to the

applicability of the Food and Agriculture Organization, United

Nations and the Government of India guidelines, yet it eventually

accepted the coefficient (a factor applied for computing evapo-

transpiration) adopted by Tamil Nadu as worked out by the

Coimbatore Agriculture University as it yielded a lower Delta as

compared to the one worked out on the basis of Government of

India Guidelines.

241. As regards the percolation losses, it took note of the

observation of the expert witness, Dr. I.C. Mahapatra, cited by

Karnataka, that the same could be considerably reduced by proper

puddling of the field. The Tribunal noted that percolation losses of

water depended on the nature of the soil, climatic condition, etc. It

recalled that the soil of Karnataka was mostly red soil and at places

was sandy in nature in contrast to the Tamil Nadu soil which was

sandy loam specially in Delta, formed with the deposit of silt over

ages and was not as porous as that of Karnataka. After taking into

account the computations provided by Tamil Nadu for the old Delta

system and the remaining basin area and having regard to the

difference in the soil in the two locations, it allowed percolation
292

losses per day at 2.5 mm. In respect of Karnataka, having regard to

the fact that paddy was being grown in low lying areas and close to

the river course for last several decades, percolation loss was fixed

at 3 mm per day for that State.

242. To compute the effective rainfall, the following recognized

factors, namely, (i) topography of land; (ii) soil characteristics of the

land proposed to be irrigated; (iii) initial soil moisture content of the

land; (iv) ground water characteristics; (v) rate of consumptive use

by a crop variety; (vi) intensity, timing and duration of rainfall; (vii)

frequency and distribution of rainfall;(viii) climatic conditions; (ix)

variety of crop and its stage of growth; and (x)water conservation of

practices, etc., were taken note of.

243. After referring to the Irrigation and Drainage paper no.25 on

―Effective rainfall in irrigated Agriculture‖ published by the Food

and Agriculture Organization of United Nations in 1974 dealing

with the measurement of effective rainfall and evaluation of various

methods with regard thereto, the Tribunal concluded that effective

rainfall would vary from place to place and hence, its computed

value would accordingly change. In this regard, the Tribunal noted
293

that both the States had furnished their crop water requirement

including effective rainfall in respect of their projects in

consultation with the experts.

244. On the aspect of system efficiency, the Tribunal registered that

both these States as per the information furnished by them claimed

that they had worked out their crop water requirement as was

optimally required for different crops. Referring to the report of the

National Commission on Agriculture, 1976, the Tribunal observed

that in water short areas, giving fewer than optimum number of

waterings to a large crop area at appropriate stages of crop growth

would result in greater overall agricultural production and,

therefore, planning projects with optimum Delta (water depth)

would result in higher water demand and may not be necessary in

water paucity areas compared to an irrigation system catering for

fewer waterings which may cover larger areas and secure greater

overall production. The Tribunal was, thus, of the view that the

party-States should improve their crop water management practices

which enfold several parameters involved in achieving the desired

results. It suggested that both the States should improve the

system efficiency to 65% in the existing projects which was possible
294

and appropriate. In this regard, it noted the suggestion of the C.C.

Patel Expert Committee of the year 1972 that efficiency should be

67% in both the States.

245. For the State of Tamil Nadu, the Tribunal, by taking the

system efficiency of 65%, worked out the Delta for 3 varieties of

paddy crop in the old Delta area and Lower Coleroon System as

hereunder:-

          A.     Old Delta Area: Delta (Water Depth)
(i) Kuruvai - 4.00 ft.
(ii) Samba - 3.40 ―
(iii) Thaladi - 2.50 ―
B. Lower Coleroon Area:
(i) Kuruvai - 3.80 ft.
(ii) Samba - 3.20 ―
(iii) Thaladi - 2.50 ―

246. For the new Delta on the same yardstick, the following Delta

was adjudged:-

                 (i) Kuruvai      -          4.10 ft.
(ii) Samba - 3.90 ft.
(iii) Thaladi - 3.20 ft.

247. Calculation of Delta for other project areas was also

undertaken by applying system efficiency at 65% and finally, the

water requirement for the State of Tamil Nadu, by adopting the
295

deltas so computed for main crops and applying the same to the

cropped areas worked out on the need basis, was quantified at

390.85 TMC for an area of 24.71 lakh acres including reservoir

losses of 10 TMC. In arriving at this figure, the Tribunal rejected

the contention of Karnataka that the demand should be limited to

242 TMC as worked out in the Cauvery Mettur Project Report of

1921. This was, amongst others, by accepting the explanation of

Tamil Nadu that the state water requirement was only an estimated

one based on very high duty factors which proved to be impractical

and arbitrary and further the assessment of crop water requirement

of each State was necessary to be made on present day standards.

Further, the Tribunal was of the view that whatever be the claim of

water made by the two States, it has to be worked out in such a

manner that neither the crops starve nor the apportionment of the

available water becomes an impossible task.

248. In the process of assessing the water requirement of

Karnataka, the Tribunal noted that the computations by it had

been made adopting the Government of India guidelines. While

recounting that the nature of soil as well as the crops grown in

Karnataka were different from that of Tamil Nadu and that paddy
296

and sugarcane require a lot of water, the Tribunal suggested

improvement of system efficiency to 65% for the existing projects

and 70% for the ongoing projects and further fixed the percolation

losses to 3 mm per day keeping in view the opinions of various

experts. For the computation of Delta, in respect of kharif paddy

cultivation, the projects within the State of Karnataka in the basin

were divided into two categories, (i) projects falling above Krishna

Raja Sagara reservoir where rainfall was higher; (ii) those falling

below Krishna Raja Sagara reservoir (including Krishna Raja Sagara

Command) where the incidence of rainfall was comparatively less.

249. For the existing projects, the Delta for kharif paddy was

worked out to be 4.6 ft. and for the ongoing projects as 4.25 ft. for

the areas falling below Krishna Raja Sagara reservoir including KRS

command. Pertaining to the areas falling above Krishna Raja Sagara

the Delta was worked out to be 4.3 ft. for existing projects and 4 ft.

for the ongoing projects. Similarly, the Delta of other projects as

regards semi-dry crops cultivated both in Kharif as well as in Rabi

season was worked out. For the perennial crop of sugarcane, 7½ ft.

of Delta was permitted. 1 TMC of water for mulberry cultivation

was also allowed. On the basis of the above parameters, the water
297

requirement of Karnataka was computed to be 250.62 TMC for

18.85 lakh acres. Though the assessors had advised otherwise, yet

the Tribunal was of the view that instead of keeping of water for the

purpose of carry over storage, it would be better to allocate the

same amongst the parties keeping in view the principle of equity for

use by the concerned States for any beneficial purpose according to

the individual State‘s own priority.

P.8 Assessment of water for "Domestic and Industrial
Purposes" in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka

250. The Tribunal thereafter proceeded to assess the domestic and

industrial water requirements of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. It

noticed that under the beneficial uses of waters of an inter-state

river system, drinking water requirement has been given the first

priority not only in our National Water Policy but also by the Courts

of different countries. It noted the water supply requirement as

recorded in the Indian Standard – ―Code of Basic Requirement for

Water Supply Drainage and Sanitation‖ IS.1172-1993 (4th revision)

presented by Tamil Nadu in its note wherein a minimum of 72 to

100 litres per head per day (for short ―phpd‖) has been considered

to be adequate for domestic needs of urban communities apart from
298

non-domestic needs as flushing requirements. The said Code

divided communities on the basis of population as also by the type

of water supply delivery systems catering to their needs while

specifying the water requirements which is enumerated as

hereinbelow:-

1) For communities with population up 40 (Min.)
to20,000 and without flushing system. 70 to 100

a) water supply through standpost lts. phpd

b) water supply through house service
connection.

2) For communities with population 100 to 150
20,000 to 1,00,000 together with full lts. phpd
flushing system.

3) For communities with population above 150 to 200
1,00,000 together with full flushing lts. phpd
system.

251. The Tribunal also noted the statistics furnished in the Manual

of Water Supply and Treatment (3rd Edition) revised and updated by

the Ministry of Urban Development, New Delhi - May 1999 setting

out per capita water supply levels for designing schemes as under:-

   Sl.              Classification of towns/            Recommended
No. cities maximum
water supply
levels
(lpcd)
299

1. Towns provided with piped water supply but 70
without sewerage system
2. Cities provided with piped water supply where 135
sewerage system is existing/contemplated
3. Metropolitan and Mega cities provided with 150
piped water supply where sewerage system is
existing/contemplated.

252. Being of the view that detailed information regarding the

population of various towns and cities, etc. in the Cauvery basin

and also the type of water supply delivery systems were not

available in exactness, it assessed the drinking water requirement

of urban population as hereunder:

     (i)     25% of urban population at 135 lts. phpd

(ii) Remaining 75% of urban population at 100 lts. phpd

253. Qua the drinking water supply needs for rural areas, it

referred to the norms adopted by the Government of India in

National Drinking Water Mission publication Chapter–I at 40 lts.

phpd with a breakup as follows:-

              Purpose                        Quantity (lt. phpd)
Drinking 3
Cooking 5
Bathing 15
300

Washing utensils house 7
Ablution 10

In addition, 30 lts. phpd for animals in hot and cold

desert/eco-system in the areas as mentioned therein was

recommended. The Tribunal, in the absence of livestock figures of

the party-States and the Union Territory of Puducherry, premised

that the animal population was equal to the rural human

population and accorded 30 lts. phpd for animals and 40 lts. phpd

for human beings aggregating 70 lts. phpd in all.

254. The Tribunal was of the view that as drinking water

requirement would be spread over the entire area of the basin, it

would be reasonable to assess that 50% of the drinking water

requirement would be met from ground water sources as it is

generally seen that wells and tube-wells in urban and rural areas

cater substantially to the said need. It acknowledged that though

the States were asked to project their population for the period from

2000 to 2025 for working out the drinking water requirement, it

considered it to be apt to make such assessment taking 2011 to be

the yardstick as it construed it to be sufficient. It also noticed that
301

out of 100 units of water initially lifted for domestic use, only about

20 units are consumed and the remaining 80 units returned into

the river basin. To this effect, the Tribunal referred to the CFFC

report as well as the report of the Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal

which reproduced the percentage of actual utilization qua various

heads of uses as hereunder:-

            Use              Measurement
(i)Irrigation 100 per cent of the quantity diverted or
use lifted from the river or any of the
tributaries or from any reservoir,
storage or canal and 100 per cent of
evaporation losses in these storages.

(ii)Power use 100 per cent of evaporation losses in
the storage.

iii)Domestic 20 per cent of the quantity of water
and municipal diverted or lifted from the river or any of
water supply its tributaries or from any reservoir,
within the storage or canal
basin

(iv)Industrial 2.5 per cent of the quantity of water
use within the diverted or lifted from the river or any of
basin. its tributaries or from any reservoir,
storage or canal.

      (v) All     uses 100 per cent of the quantity diverted or
outside the lifted from the river or any of its
302

basin. tributaries or from any reservoir,
storage or canal.

255. The fact that the above observations were also quoted by the

Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal in its report was noted.

256. Vis-a-vis the requirement of the city of Bengaluru, the

Tribunal concluded that from the information furnished by

Karnataka, 64% of the city area lay outside the basin and only 36%

thereof fell within it. It, therefore, proceeded on the basis that 1/3rd

of the city area is located within the basin and 2/3rd beyond it. After

referring to the materials furnished by Karnataka indicating the

existing and ongoing drinking water schemes and its demand on

that count for Bengaluru city as 30 TMC in a projection of 20 to 25

years, it estimated the same to be 14.52 TMC on the basis of its

existing requirements as indicated by it as in 1990. The Tribunal

was of the view that as 2/3rd of the Bengaluru city lay outside the

basin, its drinking water requirement for that area only which lay

within the Cauvery basin along with the remaining basin area and

for drinking water requirements for urban and rural population,

worked out by projecting the population of the basin for the year

2011, needed to be computed. It recalled that 25% of the urban
303

population had been allowed 135 lts. phpd and 75% thereof 100 lts.

phpd keeping in view the different categories of cities and towns

falling in the Cauvery basin. It assigned 150 lts. phpd to Bengaluru

city area falling within the basin and worked out the water

requirement for the urban population to be 8.70 TMC. Vis-a-vis the

rural population at the rate of 70 lts. phpd, the water requirement

was quantified at 8.52 TMC, thus making the total drinking water

requirement to be 17.72 TMC. By assuming that 50% of the

drinking water requirement would be met from ground water, it was

estimated that the component of river supply including transit

losses would be 8.75 TMC. The consumptive use, i.e., 20% of the

total for human population including livestock, was, thus

calculated to be 1.75 TMC.

257. By adopting the same norms, by and large, the domestic water

requirement for the State of Tamil Nadu was computed. The total

drinking water requirement for the projected population of 2011

was fixed at 21.98 TMC out of which 50% was supposed to be met

by the ground water sources and 50% from surface water which

came to 10.99 TMC. Judged by the consumptive use at the rate of

20%, 2.20 TMC was allocated to Tamil Nadu from surface water.
304

258. The Tribunal vis-a-vis the industrial water requirement of

Tamil Nadu recorded its demand of 7.43 TMC during 2001 and

13.60 TMC in 2025. Having regard to the fact that industrial

development depended on several factors including energy,

infrastructure and massive financial investments, it was of the view

that the projection made by the State was on the higher side. The

Tribunal held the opinion that as the industrial water requirement

for the year 2011 was in contemplation, 100% increase on that

count on the existing requirement in 1990 would be reasonable

and, on that basis, worked out the same as 9.9 TMC out of which

the consumptive use was assessed at 2.5%. To it was added the

water requirement of the State for existing thermal power station at

Mettur as 54.339 cusecs with consumptive use of 9.057 cusecs

which equals to .28 TMC. It worked out the total consumptive use

of water for industrial purposes at .53 TMC (.25 + .28).

259. As far as Karnataka is concerned, the Tribunal noted its

existing industrial requirement with 3.20 TMC with the projected

demand as 5.71 TMC and 8.02 TMC for 2000 and 2025 giving a

growth ratio of 1.4 times. Noticing that the industrial development

over the years had gathered a good momentum in the State and as
305

the industrial water requirement for the year 2011 was applied as

the benchmark, the Tribunal awarded 6.40 TMC (3.20 x 2) towards

this item of requirement. It was noted that the State had indicated

that at present about 2.58 TMC would be met from ground water

sources signifying that the total industrial water requirement from

the Cauvery basin would be to the tune of 3.82 TMC (6.40-2.58)

and by allowing consumptive utilisation at the rate of 2.5% of the

total requirement, the consumptive water requirement would turn

out to be .10 TMC.

260. The domestic and industrial water requirements of the States

of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu were, thus, quantified at 1.85 TMC

and 2.73 TMC respectively.

P.9 Assessment of water for "Environment Protection and
Inevitable Escapages into Sea" in Tamil Nadu and
Karnataka

261. On the aspect of water requirement for Environmental

Protection and Inevitable Escapages into sea, the Tribunal

underlined the significance thereof by observing that the balance

and purity of the environmental and ecological regime gets

disturbed on account of injudicious use of available resources by

human beings which is further aggravated by the explosion of
306

population and distorted life style oriented towards consumerism. It

took note of the fact that river water pollution on account of

industrial development, deforestation leading to siltation of

reservoirs, excessive use of irrigation water causing water logging

and salinity, etc. were areas of concern so much so that as a result

of insensible application of irrigation waters, fertile lands have

suffered from water logging and salinity. It reminded itself of its role

of apportioning available supplies for various beneficial uses of the

competing States and while doing so also to take note of the

environmental requirements and to reserve some quantity of water

for maintaining the river regime in its various reaches right upto the

mouth of the river Cauvery. It was of the view that during the crop

seasons, regulated releases from reservoirs would flow not only into

the canal system but also in the river lower down which would

normally help in maintaining the river regime and its health but

during the non-irrigation season which coincides with the non-

monsoon summer months from February to May, conscious efforts

were required to be made to ensure that there are minimum flows

running in the system, particularly in the downstream. It referred to

the testimony of Dr. B.B. Sundaresan, former Director, National
307

Environmental Engineering Research Institute, that lack of

adequate river flows is an overwhelming factor contributing to

degradation of mangroves in Cauvery estuary as mangroves thrive

only at the fresh water – sea water interface. The Tribunal noted the

stand of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in this regard and recorded

that right from 1924 onwards, a minimum flow of 1900 cusecs was

being led into the river during non-irrigation months which was

sufficient to meet the minimum water requirement for

environmental purposes. It, thus, assigned 10 TMC to be reserved

from the common pool to meet the needs of environmental aspects

from 1st February to 31st May to be maintained from Mettur

reservoir downward in the river Cauvery every year.

262. On account of inevitable escapages into the sea, the Tribunal

recorded that rainfall during the North-East monsoon season comes

in the form of cyclonic storms with heavy downpours for some days

with interspersed dry spell periods and as such, heavy surface flows

during the months of October, November and December in the

Delta region result in outflow into the sea as the flood flows. The

Tribunal, on an assessment of the materials on record and taking

note of the opinions of different experts, concluded that only those
308

escapages which flow down into the sea as surplus at Lower

Coleroon Anicut during the normal or below normal years of

precipitation could be counted as inevitable escapages and

quantified the volume to that effect as 4 TMC to be deducted from

the normal yield of 740 TMC available for apportionment.

P.10 Water allocation for the State of Kerala and Union
Territory of Pondicherry (presently named as
“Puducherry”)

263. The Tribunal, at this juncture, turned to determine the

allocations for Kerala and the Union Territory of Puducherry.

264. In apportioning the share of the State of Kerala, the Tribunal

adverted to the report of the Cauvery Fact Finding Committee and

recorded that so far as the first and second crops are concerned,

the requirements of irrigation were nominal. From the chart

appended to the report showing the weekly evapo-transpiration and

rainfall, it construed that the rainfall was so evenly distributed over

the months of May to November and in excess of evapo-

transpiration that only occasional assistance by artificial irrigation

was required in the event of some failures in small periods. It

noticed the stand of Kerala in its statement of case that agriculture
309

was the basic occupation of the people in Kabini, Bhavani and

Pambar basins with the main crop in the low elevation being paddy,

and plantation crops being grown in the middle and higher

elevations. Kerala had claimed that in the absence of assured water

supply from irrigation projects, excepting a few minor irrigation

works serving limited ayacut, the agricultural crops in the Cauvery

basin therein were dependent on the seasonal rainfall. Kerala had

pleaded that after Malabar came over to it, it had submitted several

schemes to the Government of India for approval but except one

project, viz., Karapuzha in the Cauvery basin, no other scheme was

approved because of the pending dispute on sharing of water.

According to Kerala, it was for this historical fact that despite the

availability and potential to use Cauvery water, the Malabar area

could not take up irrigation projects. The demand of Kerala in its

statement of case was 92.9 TMC under different heads covering

Kabini, Bhavani and Pambar sub-basins. The Tribunal noticed that

out of this volume of water, 35 TMC was demanded by Kerala for

trans-basin diversion to generate hydro-power. As a matter of fact,

it claimed that its contribution to the Cauvery basin was about 20%

of the total yield of 740 TMC and, thus, considering its peculiar
310

needs as an over populated and industrially under developed State,

its share of water works out as 99.8 TMC including non-

consumptive use of Pambar HE Scheme – 5.6 TMC, Siruvani Water

Supply Scheme for Coimbatore – 1.3 TMC in addition to their claim

of 92.9 TMC. The demand of the State that it was entitled to the use

of Cauvery water for irrigation for paddy crop wherever possible and

plantation crops in the hill slopes in addition to the use of such

water for the generation of hydro-electric power was minuted. The

Tribunal took note of the stand of Tamil Nadu to limit the claim of

Kerala on the basis of an Agreement of 1969 between the two

States, but negated the same and decided that its claim for its

share of water was to be considered on merit. While adjudging the

demand of Kerala, the Tribunal took note of the stand of Karnataka

that in view of the sufficient rain during South-West and North-East

monsoons, the first two paddy crops, namely, Virippu and

Mundakan do not need any irrigation support; summer paddy crop

should not be allowed; since 1975 the overall area under paddy

cultivation in the State had been declining and as a whole, it had

sufficient hydro-power potential in large number and as such,

transbasin diversion should not be allowed. The demurral of
311

Karnataka based on the project reports of Kerala that it proposed to

have three crops in all the projects, was also accounted for. The

Tribunal, in this context, reflected on the efforts made by Kerala to

push its projects unsuccessfully over the years and its emphasis for

the need to develop the hilly region of Wyned and Attappaty which

were under developed. Before examining the tenability of the

demand of Kerala, the Tribunal first set out the broad heads thereof

as under:-

                          Items                      TMC

1. Multi-purpose projects for 35.0
hydro-power generation and
incidental use for irrigation
outside the Cauvery basin
involving trans-basin
diversion.
2. Medium irrigation schemes 38.8
for covering areas within the
basin.
3. Minor irrigation works 6.1
(existing, ongoing
proposed).
4. Domestic water supply 5.5
(ultimate requirement).
5. Industrial uses (ultimate 7.5
requirement).
312

6. Non-consumptive use for 5.6
Pambar Hydro-electric
Scheme within the basin.
7. Committed utilisation for 1.3
Siruvani drinking water
supply for the benefit of Tamil
Nadu.
Total 99.8

265. Vis-a-vis the first item, the Tribunal held that the water of

inter-State river was meant for use by all the riparian States

according to the reasonable needs and necessity of each State

within the basin. While underlining that irrigation had always been

given higher preference over generation of hydroelectricity unless

water was surplus, it enumerated the water allocation priorities as

prescribed by the National Water Policy of 2002 as hereinbelow:-

              Drinking water
 Irrigation
 Hydro-power
 Ecology
 Argo-industries and non-agricultural industries
 Navigation and other use.

266. Rejecting the plea on behalf of Kerala in support of transbasin

diversion based on the necessity and need of the whole State, the

Tribunal held that if it is accepted that while determining the
313

equitable share of a particular riparian State, even the shortage of

water in the neighbouring basin which is outside the basin in

question is to be considered, it would lead to an anomalous

situation. In its view, though in the Helsinki Rules of 1966, there is

a reference of basin states, yet the process of diversion could not be

executed by one of the riparian States at the cost of other lower

riparian States affecting their irrigation, economy and social needs.

The observation of the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal and the

Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal in substance to the effect that in

the absence of any agreement, the prudent course may be to limit

the diversion to the surplus waters left after liberally allowing for

the pressing needs of basin areas, was reiterated. The following

observations of the U.S. Supreme Court in State of New Jersey v.

State of New York (supra) were also recorded:-

―The removal of water to a different watershed obviously
must be allowed at times unless States are to be deprived
of the most beneficial use on formal grounds.
Diversion of water from one river basin to another is
viewed with distrust and resisted by the basin
population.‖
314

267. The Tribunal also referred to the observation of the Expert

Committee headed by Shri C.C. Patel, the then Additional

Secretary, Ministry of Irrigation and Power, against trans-basin

diversions in a water deficit basin. It, therefore, concluded that

because of shortage of water, no note could be taken of claims made

by the States for apportionment of water in respect of any trans-

basin diversion already made or proposed to be made for any

purpose. The Tribunal, thus, declined to allocate water for the

projects involving transbasin diversion of waters.

268. Qua the demand for irrigation, domestic and industrial water

use, the Tribunal, on a scrutiny of the project reports as furnished

in the common format, catalogued the following aspects:-

―(i) Out of the irrigation schemes projected, only one
scheme i.e. Karapuzha project had been approved by the
Government of India.

(ii) While the State had been emphasizing on spice and
plantation crops, while placing demand, it had only
submitted its requirement mainly for paddy and
vegetable crop, besides indicating demand for domestic
and industrial uses along with hydropower projects
involving interbasin transfer of water.

(iii) As regards culturable command area (CCA) and
ayacut under individual projects, the extent of proposed
ayacut was much less than CCA because of the physical
nature of the area, which was undulating in character.

315

(iv) Main crop in the low elevation areas was paddy,
whereas in the middle and higher elevations, it was
plantation crops for which reasonable needs were to be
assessed, so that the irrigated area could be made equal
to the CCA for the State has proposed two paddy crops
and one vegetable crop for the Kabini sub-basin. While
the first crop ―Virippu‖ was raised during May to
September, water requirement whereof was met from
South-West monsoon, the second crop ―Mundakan‖ was
raised from end of September to end of January with the
support of North-East monsoon. The first was the rain
fed crop and the second principally, an irrigated crop.
The third crop ―Puncha‖ grown from January end to early
May was a summer crop, which however could not be
allowed because of non-availability of rainfall support.

(v) Though the State had proposed three paddy crops
in their Attappady Project in Bhavani sub-basin noticing
that this basin used to receive rainfall during South-West
monsoon, which was weaker, only one paddy crop was to
be allowed during North-East monsoon, whereas the
proposed paddy crop during South-West monsoon was
recommended to be replaced by any semi dry crop. For
Pambar sub-basin as well, though the State had
proposed two paddy crops, one paddy crop and one semi
dry crop was suggested.

(vi) No lift irrigation for raising paddy cultivation was
allowable.

(vii) Demand for domestic and industrial water use was
excessive. The excessive demand for industrial use was
restricted to 33% of the quantity of the existing actual
utilization for project development till 2011.

(viii) The Tribunal having regard to its above responses
and bearing in mind that the State had substantial tribal
population in Cauvery basin area worked out the project-
wise allocations based on socio-economic needs, agro-
316

climatic conditions and availability of land for
cultivation.‖

269. The analysis that followed reveals that the Tribunal did

examine the demand vis-a-vis the different projects in the Kabini,

Bhavani and Pambar basins in the context of their individual

features and corresponding crop water requirement. While doing so,

the Tribunal also, inter alia, examined the viability of the projects

and excluded those which were not viable. In assessing the claims

made, the Tribunal was particularly mindful of the crop pattern,

annual intensity of irrigation, delta requirements, etc. with specific

reference to rainfall support. In addition, demand towards minor

irrigation schemes/projects in the aforenamed basins were

accounted for and eventually, the irrigation water requirement of

Cauvery basin, Bhavani basin and Pambar basin was assessed to

be as hereunder:

Kabini basin – 19.43 TMC
Bhavani basin – 5.52 TMC
Pambar basin – 2.95 TMC

270. Noticeably, the Tribunal, while assessing the crop water

requirement for the above three sub-basins, allowed allocations for

―Virippu‖ and ―Mundakan‖ paddy crops for Kabini sub-basin; kharif
317

semi-dry and miscellaneous, ―Mundakan‖ and perennial crop for

Bhavani sub-basin and kharif semi-dry and miscellaneous and

―Mundakan‖ for Pambar sub-basin.

271. While working out the domestic and industrial water

requirement, the Tribunal considered the population projection for

2011 and adopted the ratio of urban and rural population at the

ratio of 30:70. Against the drinking water requirement at a flat rate

of 120 lts. phpd for the entire population, the Tribunal thought it

reasonable to bifurcate the demand between the rural and urban

areas and quantified it to be 120 lts. phpd for urban population and

70 lts. phpd for the rural population (human-being 40 lts. phpd +

cattle 30 lts. phpd), thereby adjudging the drinking water

requirement on the above norms for Kabini, Bhavani and Pambar

sub-basins together at 1.53 TMC. As the actual consumptive use

out of the above would be limited to only 20% and the remaining

80% would gradually flow back to the river system over a period of

time, the actual allocated share on this head was, thus, assessed to

be .31 TMC for the three sub-basins.

272. Dealing with the industrial water requirement, the Tribunal

took into account the existing industrial water use for different
318

types of industries in Kabini basin estimated at .50 TMC which was

expected to increase by another 33% by the year 2011 thus

becoming .69 TMC. Working on the same lines, the industrial water

need for Bhavani sub-basin and Pambar sub-basin was assessed at

.21 TMC and .26 TMC respectively making the total tally of 1.16

TMC. However, as the consumptive use for industrial purposes was

limited to 2.5% of the volume, the Tribunal adjudged the share on

this count to be .04 TMC as the remaining bulk would return to the

river system.

273. The Tribunal, on the basis of the population ratio inter se the

States, awarded Kerala 1.51 TMC out of the savings of 45.08 TMC

so as to enable it to use the same keeping in view its own priorities

in public interest. Thus, the total water requirement of Kerala,

taking into account all heads of demand, was quantified at 29.76

TMC rounded up to 30 TMC. In parting, the Tribunal clarified that

the allocation was based on the needs established and accepted and

did not signify the sanction of any project by it, as the clearance

thereof under the law was to be granted by the State Government.

Having regard to the historical facts that Kerala would take some

time to utilize its full allocated share so much so that some
319

unutilized water from its share would be flowing in Kabini, Bhavani

and Amaravathi reservoirs and recalling that the Tribunal had not

taken note of the claim of Tamil Nadu of its irrigated area of

second/double crop totaling 2,80,800 acres, it was provided that till

such time Kerala would be in a position to utilize its allocated share

of water, the unutilized water from its share be permitted to be used

by Tamil Nadu. While holding so, the Tribunal observed that this

temporary arrangement of use by Tamil Nadu of the unutilized

water from the share of Kerala, however, would not confer any right

on it.

274. Adverting to the claim of the Union Territory of Puducherry for

the Karaikal region, the Tribunal recorded that the economy of that

region was predominantly based on agriculture and that due to its

close proximity to the sea, the ground water was generally brackish

and unsuitable for drinking and irrigation purposes. The claim of

the Union Territory for its water requirement vis-a-vis the crop

grown as extracted hereinbelow was noticed:-

320

        S.No.       Crop        Area         Water
(hectares) Requirement
(Mcft.)
(1) Samba 4760 3006
(Single
Crop)
(2) Kuruvai 6230 2868
(Khariff
double
crop)
3) Thalady 6230 3366
(Rabi –
double
crop)
Total 9240

275. Thus, the total area summed up to 42,533 acres and the total

water requirement was estimated at 9.355 TMC including 115 mcft

for drinking water. The Tribunal marked that there was, in fact, no

denial of the irrigated area claimed by the party-States, though

Karnataka, in its rejoinder, did not admit its crop pattern as

projected and the corresponding water requirement. The fact that

the irrigated area of 43000 acres had also been endorsed by the

Cauvery Fact Finding Committee was duly noted. Further, the

aspect that the Union Territory of Puducherry, due to its own
321

compulsions, did not have any scope for extension of the said area

also did not miss the attention of the Tribunal and, thus, on a

totality of the above considerations, its claim for second crop was

allowed in particular keeping in view the geographical and climatic

conditions and the soil features of the territory.

276. Noticeably, the State of Tamil Nadu, while arguing its demand

of water as well as the area under irrigation, had indicated its stand

in respect of the Union Territory of Puducherry and provided the

following particulars to demonstrate the overall need of the Union

Territory:-

        S. No.      Sector                     Pondicherry
Area in Water
lakh required
acres in TMC
(1) (2) (3) (4)
A Domestic and livestock 0.356
need
B Environmental/Ecologic 0.000
al Needs
C Irrigation requirement 0.430 6.840
for the area under
Priority – I to IV
C Industrial Power 0.070
Total 0.430 7.266
322

277. From this, the Tribunal construed that not only Tamil Nadu

admitted that the gross irrigated area in Puducherry was 43000

acres, but also measured its total water requirement to be 7.266

TMC.

278. In respect of the crop water requirement of Puducherry in

particular, the Tribunal observed that the extent of area under

Kuruvai, Samba and Thaladi was 15,388, 11,757 and 15,388 acres

respectively out of which the first crop (Kuruvai and Samba)

covered 27,145 acres and the second crop (Thaladi) was raised over

15,388 acres. The Tribunal also mentioned that the Karaikal region

of the Union Territory of Puducherry was situated at the tail end of

the Tamil Nadu Delta system and for all practical purposes, could

be taken to be the natural extension of the Cauvery Delta system of

Tamil Nadu and, therefore, the cropping pattern as well as the

water requirement for the crops did also broadly match. It was,

however, indicated that the Karaikal region was in the close

proximity of the sea for which the effect of sea water on the

cultivable area was an aspect which needed special consideration.

This was, as the Tribunal underlined, to ensure that the brackish

water remained well below the crop root zone for which liberal
323

provision for irrigation water was warranted. Though it noted that

the North-East monsoon helps in leaching the salt deposited over

the land as well as in the sub-soil, yet having regard to the above

factors, a volume of 6.35 TMC by way of crop water requirement

was allowed.

279. For domestic and industrial water requirement of the Union

Territory, the Tribunal noted that the total population of its

Karaikal region, as projected for 2011, was to be applied. It

construed the ratio of urban to rural population to be 35:65 and by

applying the yardstick of 120 lpcd against urban domestic water

supply requirement and 70 lpcd for the rural population including

livestock, it worked out the total domestic water requirement to be

.225 TMC. Though 80% of the domestic water supply was generally

expected to return back to the river system, yet in the case of

Karaikal region, this norm was not applied as the water would not

take that course but would flow into the brackish sub-soil or into

the sea. The Tribunal, thus, allowed the full quantity of .225 TMC

for domestic water requirement.

280. In respect of its industrial water requirement, the Union

Territory of Puducherry, in its common format, indicated its
324

demand to be .034 TMC. The Tribunal was of the view that by 2011,

this demand would increase by about 33% to become .045 TMC. As

on the analogy of reasonings qua domestic water requirement, the

industrial water taken for use from the river system will not return

to it and, hence, the full quantity, i.e., .045 TMC was accepted.

Thus, the total water requirement of the Union Territory of

Puducherry towards irrigation, domestic water supply and

industrial use was assessed at 6.62 TMC.

281. Added to this, out of the balance water of 45.08 TMC on

savings, as per its population in the year 1991, the bench mark

used for the other States, its share was worked out to be .22 TMC.

The total allocation of water for Puducherry on all these counts,

thus, totalled to 6.84 TMC which was rounded upto 7 TMC. It was

mentioned that this quota allocated to Karaikal was required to be

delivered at the seven locations at the inter-state crossing points

(between Tamil Nadu and Karaikal) of 7 rivers, namely, Nandalar,

Nattar, Vanjiar, Noolar, Arasalar, Thirumalairajanar and

Pravadayanar. With regard to the monthly delivery of supplies, it

was noted that Tamil Nadu and Union Territory of Puducherry had

an agreement which had been working satisfactorily and, thus, it
325

was ordered that the same would continue. It was indicated that in

case of any disagreement, the matter could be resolved by the

Cauvery Management Board.

P.11 Final water allocation amongst competing States

282. Having dealt with the allocations for the individual States as

above, the final calculations were set out in a tabular form as

herein below:-

                       States          Total
Kerala Karnataka Tamil UT of
Nadu Poncidherry
i) Area 1.93 18.85 24.71 0.43 45.92
ii)Irrigation 27.90 250.62 390.85 6.35 675.72
requirement
iii) Domestic 0.35 1.85 2.73 0.27 5.20
and
Industrial
water
requirement
projected for
2011
iv) Water - - - - 10.00
requirement
for
environmenta
l protection
v) Inevitable - -gv - - 4.00
escapages
into sea
vi) Share in 1.51 17.64 25.71 0.22 45.08
balance water
Total 29.76 270.11 419.29 6.84 740.00
Say 30.00 270.00 419.00 7.00 726+14
326

740

283. Simply put, the final allocated shares of the competing States

together with the provisions for environmental protection and

inevitable escapages into sea, as determined by the Tribunal, can be

reflected thus:-

           1.   Kerala                            30 TMC
2. Karnataka 270
3. Tamil Nadu 419
4. Union Territory of Pondicherry 7
5. Environmental protection 10
6. Inevitable escapages into sea 4
_
740 TMC

284. Significantly, in computing the balance quantity of 45.08 TMC

which the Tribunal distributed on the basis of the respective

population figure, the Tribunal attributed this quantum to the

proposed carry over storage of 10 TMC, each for the States of

Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, as recommended by the Assessors as

well as a volume of 25.08 TMC that was available in view of the

limitations prescribed in allotment. According to the Tribunal, on a

consideration of different aspects, it was decided to keep 20 TMC
327

(10 TMC x 2) as advised by the Assessors as carry over storage, to

allocate the same together with the other 25.08 TMC available to

the States on the principle of equity, leaving them at liberty to

utilize the same as per their own priority.

P.12 Monthly schedule for delivery of water at inter-State
contact points

285. The Tribunal next dwelt upon the monthly schedule of flows at

the inter-State contact point between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to

ensure timely supplies for successfully raising crops in different

crop seasons. It noticed that for the fields in which paddy was

grown by the State of Tamil Nadu, the nurseries were put in the

field between middle of June to middle of July followed by

transplantation during last week of July onwards. Having regard to

the fact that in Tamil Nadu, the first crop of ―Kuruvai‖ was

harvested in September followed by the second crop ―Thaladi‖ to be

harvested in January-February and that the main crop ―Samba‖ is

transplanted in the month of August- September and harvested in

December, the Tribunal prepared a schedule of the monthly

releases from mid-June to end of January spanning over the

agricultural season so that the interests of both the states of Tamil
328

Nadu and Karnataka were taken care of. In drawing up the monthly

schedule of release of water, the Tribunal kept in mind that in

normal years, such release would not pose any difficulty to the

State of Karnataka and at the same time would meet the

requirement of Tamil Nadu. The inter-state contact points were

enumerated thus:-

i) Between Kerala and : Kabini reservoir site
Karnataka

ii) Between Kerala and :

Tamil Nadu

(a) For Bhavani sub- : Chavadiyoor G.D. site
basin

It is reported that
Chavadiyoor gauge site
was being operated by
the State of Kerala
which could be revived
for inter-State
observations.

              (b) For Pambar sub- : Amaravathi       reservoir
basin site

iii) Between Karnataka and : Billigundulu G.D.
Tamil Nadu site/any other site on
common border

iv) Between Tamil Nadu : Seven Contact points‖
and Pondicherry
329

286. It was mentioned that the identified inter-state contact point

between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu was at Billigundulu gauge

where the discharge site was maintained by the Central Water

Commission, an independent organization of the Central

Government having due expertise in the river gauging techniques.

The Tribunal was of the opinion that the gauge and discharge

observation stations where direct observations can be made would

be a better location than a reservoir site where the measurements

can be taken only in an indirect way. The Regulatory Authority was,

however, left at its discretion, if needed, to require the Central

Water Commission, in consultation with the State Governments, to

establish new gauge and discharge station on the common border.

The unutilized water allocated to the State of Kerala, which would

be flowing to the lower States, namely, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu

and the existing reservoirs of Kabini, Bhavani and Amaravathi from

which the distribution was ordered was to be monitored by the

Cauvery Management Board. The fact that the annual allocation of

7 TMC for the Union Territory of Puducherry would be required to

be delivered by Tamil Nadu over a period of one year at 7 different

contact points, as in the past, was indicated. The calculations of the
330

flow required to be delivered at the inter-state site were summed up

as hereunder:-

TMC
―1) The total yield of the basin at 50% 740
dependability

2) Yield at Mettur reservoir. 508
(Ref: TNDC Vol.XV, page 87 and TN
Statement No.57, item 1 dated
10.2.2005)

3) Yield generated in Tamil Nadu area 25
above Mettur reservoir
(Ref: TN Statement No.57, item 4 and
TN Statement 86, item 1)

4) (a) Yield available below Mettur (740– 232

508)
(Ref: TN Note 46, Annexure-3, page 54;

TN Statement 83, item 1)

(b) Deducting following uses:-

            i)Allocation to Kerala in
Bhavani sub-basin - 6 TMC
ii)Allocation to Kerala in
Pambar sub-basin - 3 TMC
iii)Allocation to UT of
20
Pondicherry - 7 TMC
iv)Inevitable escapages
into sea - 4 TMC
20 TMC
(c) Balance available for use in Tamil 212
Nadu (232–20)
5) Total of water available for use in 237‖
Tamil Nadu (212+25)
331

287. Deducing therefrom and having regard to the allocated share

of 419 TMC, the Tribunal ordered that the balance 182 TMC (419-

237) + 10 TMC for environmental protection, i.e., 192 TMC was to

be delivered by the State of Karnataka at the inter-State border. In

this regard, the three components contributing to the annual

quantum of water to be delivered by the State of Karnataka at the

inter-State contact point were identified as herein below:

―i) Flows coming in the river Cauvery from the
uncontrolled catchment of Kabini sub-basin downstream
of Kabini reservoir, the catchment of main stream of
Cauvery river below Krishnarajasagara, uncontrolled
flows from Shimsha, Arkavathy and Suvernavathy sub-
basins and various other small streams.

ii) Regulated releases from Kabini reservoir; and

iii) Regulated releases from Krishnarajasagara
reservoir.‖

288. It was clarified as well that the delivery of 192 TMC of water at

the inter-state contact point was to be maintained in a normal year

and that if there was any deficiency in the quantum of inflows, it

would be open to the Cauvery Management Board/Regulatory

Authority to suitably adjust the flows. The monthly schedule of

deliveries finally prepared in consultation with and on the basis of

the advice of the assessors at Billingundulu was designed thus:-
332

            ―Month       TMC      Month          TMC
June 10 December 8
July 34 January 3
August 50 February 2.5
September 40 March 2.5
October 22 April 2.5
November 15 May 2.5
Total 192 TMC‖

289. While clarifying that Kabini‘s flows of the unutilized water out

of the Kerala‘s allocated share, from Kerala to Tamil Nadu would be

in addition to the flow of 192 TMC as per the monthly schedule till

Kerala develops its own potential to use the same, the Cauvery

Management Board/Regulatory Authority was also required to set

up its mechanism and further devise its method to determine the

quantum of unutilized water to be received from Kerala by Tamil

Nadu through Kabini and its tributaries and ensure the delivery

thereof in Tamil Nadu at the common border. The Regulatory

Authority was also required to monitor flows from Krishna Raja

Sagara reservoir as also from Kabini and other tributaries meeting

Kabini below Krishna Raja Sagara upto Billigundulu site. It was

again clarified that the monthly schedule of deliveries was on the

basis of the flow in a normal year giving a total annual yield of 740
333

TMC at 50% dependability which was a theoretical computation

based on the crop water requirement of different projects and the

computed withdrawal therefor along with the data of inflows into

the various reservoirs as furnished by the party-States in their

common formats. However, the Tribunal was not unmindful of the

fact that rainfall during any monsoon season was likely to vary in

space and time and also in intensity and duration which would

have impact upon the pattern of flows in different sub-basins and

which may not tally with the flows considered for working out the

above schedule. In this premise, the Tribunal suggested an entity,

namely, the Cauvery Management Board/Regulatory Authority to

monitor, with the help of the Cauvery Regulation Committee and

the concerned State Authorities, the available storage position in

the Cauvery basin along with the trend of rainfall and make an

assessment about the likely inflows which may be available for

distribution amongst the party-States within the overall schedule of

water deliveries as suggested. It was also made clear that in case

the yield was less in a distress year, the allocated shares would be

proportionately reduced amongst the States involved by the

Regulatory Authority. Having regard to the fact that the irrigation
334

season starts from 1st of June and the normal date of onset of

South-West monsoon in Kerala is of the same date so much so that

any delay in the advent of the said monsoon would affect the

inflows and consequently dislocate the schedule of releases from

Krishna Raja Sagara and Kabini reservoirs, the Tribunal felt it to be

advisable that at the end of May each year, as much storage as was

possible during a good year should be consciously conserved as

that would help in adhering to the schedule of monthly deliveries.

The Tribunal, however, authorized the Cauvery Management

Board/Regulatory Authority to relax the schedule of deliveries and

get the reservoirs operated in an integrated manner through the

States to minimize any harsh effect of a bad monsoon year in the

event of two consecutive distress years. The Cauvery Management

Board/Regulatory Authority was also required to monitor the entire

spectrum of monthly availability of storages and rainfall pattern

vis-a-vis the schedule of monthly flows to be delivered at

Billigundulu/inter-State contact point for a period of five years and

to effect the necessary adjustments in the monthly schedule in

consultation with the party-States and with the help of the Central

Water Commission without, however, changing the annual
335

allocation awarded to the parties. In suggesting these measures, the

Tribunal was conscious that there was no element of human control

on the happenings in nature and that only an attempt was to be

made to ensure beneficial use of the available quantum of flows in

any year and to distribute the same for the benefit of the basin as a

whole by integrating the releases from different storage reservoirs. A

caveat was also sounded to the upper riparian State to desist from

any action so as to affect the scheduled deliveries of water to the

lower riparian States.

Q. Mechanism (Cauvery Management Board) for
implementation of Tribunal's decisions

290. The Tribunal also did devise the machinery for implementation

of its final decisions/orders and in doing so, took note of Section 6A

introduced in the 1956 Act by Act 45 of 1980 with effect from

27.08.1980 empowering the Central Government to frame schemes,

if any, in respect of such implementation. It also noticed the

amendment to Section 6 of the Act whereby in terms of Section 6(2),

the decision of the Tribunal after its publication in the Official

Gazette was to have the same force as an order or decree of the

Supreme Court. In this statutory background, the Tribunal was of
336

the view that any direction to frame a scheme for the

implementation of its decision would result in an anomalous

situation. However, in its view, as the Inter-State Water Disputes

(Amendment) Act, 1980 did not provide for details with regard the

to constitution of the machinery and its functions, it had the

implied power to make recommendations in that regard for

implementing its decision. It, thus, recommended that the Cauvery

Management Board be constituted on the lines of Bhakra Beas

Management Board by the Central Government. It underlined that

unless an appropriate mechanism was set up, the prospect of

implementation of its decision would not be secured. It further

recommended that as its award involved regulation of supplies from

various reservoirs and other important nodal points/diversion

structures, it was imperative that the mechanism, Cauvery

Management Board, be entrusted with the function of supervision

of the operation of reservoirs and the regulation of water releases

therefrom with the assistance of the Cauvery Water Regulation

Committee (to be constituted by the Board). It then suggested the

constitution of the Cauvery Management Board, its composition, its

items of business, etc. It also recommended the composition of the
337

Cauvery Water Regulatory Committee and outlined its functions.

The Cauvery Management Board was also required to submit an

annual report to the four party-States before the 30th of September

of each year. The Tribunal prescribed guidelines for the Cauvery

Management Board which besides being exhaustive were intended

to touch upon the functional details relating to the supplies out of

the allocated shares. We do not intend to state the guidelines laid

down by the Tribunal as we shall be addressing to many an aspect

while analyzing the concept of the scheme as envisaged under

Section 6.1 of the 1956 Act

R. Final order of the Tribunal

291. On the culmination of the above exercises, the Tribunal

formulated its final order with its determinations and directions on

all the facets of the dispute. As the layout of the final order portrays

the summation of the adjudication made, it would be apposite to

quote the same as hereunder for immediate reference:

“Final Order and Decision of the Cauvery Water
Disputes Tribunal
The Tribunal hereby passes, in conclusion the following
order:-

338

Clause-I
This order shall come into operation on the date of the
publication of the decision of this Tribunal in the official
gazette under Section 6 of the Inter-State Water
Disputes Act, 1956 as amended from time to time.
Clause-II
Agreements of the years 1892 and 1924:

The Agreements of the years 1892 and 1924 which were
executed between the then Governments of Mysore and
Madras cannot be held to be invalid, specially after a
lapse of about more than 110 and 80 years respectively.
Before the execution of the two agreements, there was
full consultation between the then Governments of
Madras and Mysore. However, the agreement of 1924
provides for review of some of the clauses after 1974.
Accordingly, we have reviewed and re-examined various
provisions of the agreement on the principles of just and
equitable apportionment.

Clause-III
This order shall supersede –

i) The agreement of 1892 between the then Government
of Madras and the Government of Mysore so far as it
related to the Cauvery river system.

ii) The agreement of 1924 between the then Government
of Madras and the Government of Mysore so far as it
related to the Cauvery river system.

Clause-IV
The Tribunal hereby determines that the utilisable
quantum of waters of the Cauvery at Lower Coleroon
Anicut site on the basis of 50% dependability to be 740
thousand million cubic feet-TMC (20,954 M.cu.m.).
339

Clause-V
The Tribunal hereby orders that the waters of the river
Cauvery be allocated in three States of Kerala,
Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and U.T. of Pondicherry for
their beneficial uses as mentioned hereunder:-

i) The State of Kerala                -      30 TMC
ii) The State of Karnataka - 270 TMC
iii) The State of Tamil Nadu - 419 TMC
iv) U.T. of Pondicherry - 7 TMC
__
726 TMC

In addition, we reserve some quantity of water for (i)
environmental protection and (ii) inevitable escapages
into the sea as under:-

(i) Quantity reserved for environmental – 10 TMC
protection

(ii) Quantity determined for inevitable – 4 TMC
escapages into the sea 14 TMC

Total (726 + 14) 740 TMC
Clause – VI
The State of Kerala has been allocated a total share of 30
TMC, the distribution of which in different tributary
basins is as under:

  (i) Kabini sub-basin            -   21 TMC
(ii) Bhavani sub-basin - 6 TMC
(iii) Pambar sub-basin - 3 TMC
Clause – VII
340

In case the yield of Cauvery basin is less in a distress
year, the allocated shares shall be proportionately
reduced among the States of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil
Nadu and Union Territory of Pondicherry.

Clause VIII
The following inter-State contact points are identified for
monitoring the water deliveries:

       i)   Between   Kerala             :   Kabini
and Karnataka reservoir site
ii) Between Kerala -
and Tamil Nadu
a) For Bhavani : Chavadiyoor
sub-basin G.D. site
It is reported that
Chavadiyoor
gauge site was
being operated by
the State of
Kerala which
could be revived
for inter-State
observations.

b) For Pambar : Amaravathy
sub-basin reservoir site

iii) Between : Billigundulu
Karnataka and G.D.
Tamil Nadu site/any
other site on
common
border

iv) Between Tamil : Seven
Nadu and Contact
points as
341

Pondicherry already in
operation‖
Clause-IX

Since the major shareholders in the Cauvery waters are
the States of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, we order the
tentative monthly deliveries during a normal year to be
made available by the State of Karnataka at the inter-
State contact point presently identified as Billigundulu
gauge and discharge station located on the common
border as under:

 Month           TMC     Month            TMC
June 10 December 8
July 34 January 3
August 50 February 2.5
September 40 March 2.5
October 22 April 2.5
November 15 May 2.5
192 TMC

The above quantum of 192 TMC of water comprises of
182 TMC from the allocated share of Tamil Nadu and 10
TMC of water allocated for environmental purposes.
The above monthly releases shall be broken in 10 daily
intervals by the Regulatory Authority.

The Authority shall properly monitor the working of
monthly schedule with the help of the concerned States
and Central Water Commission for a period of five years
and if any modification/adjustment is needed in the
schedule thereafter, it may be worked out in
consultation with the party States and help of Central
Water Commission for future adoption without changing
the annual allocation amongst the parties.

342

Clause X

The available utilisable waters during a water year will
include the waters carried over from the previous water
year as assessed on the 1st of June on the basis of stored
waters available on that date in all the reservoirs with
effective storage capacity of 3 TMC and above.

Clause – XI

Any upper riparian State shall not take any action so as
to affect the scheduled deliveries of water to the lower
riparian States. However, the States concerned can by
mutual agreement and in consultation with the
Regulatory Authority make any amendment in the
pattern of water deliveries.

Clause-XII

The use of underground waters by any riparian State
and U.T. of Pondicherry shall not be reckoned as use of
the water of the river Cauvery.

The above declaration shall not in any way alter the
rights, if any, under the law for the time being in force,
of any private individuals, bodies or authorities.
Clause-XIII

The States of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu brought to our
notice that a few hydro-power projects in the common
reach boundary are being negotiated with the National
Hydro-Power Corporation (NHPC). In this connection,
we have only to observe that whenever any such hydro-
power project is constructed and Cauvery waters are
stored in the reservoir, the pattern of downstream
releases should be consistent with our order so that the
irrigation requirements are not jeopardized.
343

Clause-XIV

Use of water shall be measured by the extent of its
depletion of the waters of the river Cauvery including its
tributaries in any manner whatsoever; the depletion
would also include the evaporation losses from the
reservoirs. The storage in any reservoir across any
stream of the Cauvery river system except the annual
evaporation losses shall form part of the available water.
The water diverted from any reservoir by a State for its
own use during any water year shall be reckoned as use
by that State in that water year. The measurement for
domestic and municipal water supply, as also the
industrial use shall be made in the manner indicated
below:

         Use                    Measurement
Domestic and By 20 per cent of the
municipal Water quantity of water diverted or
supply lifted from the river or any of
its tributaries or from any
reservoir, storage or canal.
Industrial use By 2.5 per cent of the
quantity of water diverted or
lifted from the river or any of
its tributaries or from any
reservoir, storage or canal.
Clause-XV

In any riparian State or U.T. of Pondicherry is not able to
make use of any portion of its allocated share during any
month in a particular water year and requests for its
storage in the designated reservoirs, it shall be at liberty
to make use of its unutilized share in any other
subsequent month during the same water year provided
this arrangement is approved by the implementing
Authority.

344

Clause-XVI

Inability of any State to make use of some portion of the
water allocated to it during any water year shall not
constitute forfeiture or abandonment of its share of
water in any subsequent water year nor shall it increase
the share of other State in the subsequent year if such
State has used that water.

Clause-XVII

In addition, note shall be taken of all such orders,
directions, recommendations, suggestions etc. which
have been detailed earlier in different chapters/volumes
of the report with decision for appropriate action.

Clause XVIII

Nothing in the order of this Tribunal shall impair the
right or power or authority of any State to regulate
within its boundaries the use of water, or to enjoy the
benefit of waters within that State in a manner not
inconsistent with the order of this Tribunal.

Clause-XIX

In this order,

(a) ―Normal year‖ shall mean a year in which the total
yield of the Cauvery basin is 740 TMC.

(b) Use of the water of the river Cauvery by any person
or entity of any nature whatsoever, within the territories
of a State shall be reckoned as use by that State.

(c) The expression ―water year‖ shall mean the year
commencing on 1st June and ending on 31st May.

345

(d) The ―irrigation season‖ shall mean the season
commencing on 1st June and ending on 31st January of
the next year.

(e) The expression ―Cauvery river‖ includes the main
stream of the Cauvery river, all its tributaries and all
other streams contributing water directly or indirectly to
the Cauvery river.

(f) The expression ―TMC‖ means thousand million cubic
feet of water.

Clause-XX

Nothing contained herein shall prevent the alteration,
amendment or modification of all or any of the foregoing
clauses by agreement between the parties‖.

[emphasis supplied]

S. Arguments advanced on behalf of State of Karnataka as
regards the allocation of water on various heads

S.1 Submissions of Mr. Fali S. Nariman:

292. It is submitted by Mr. Nariman, learned senior counsel

appearing on behalf of the State of Karnataka, that while Tamil

Nadu's statement of claim before the Tribunal set out that it had

developed 28.20 lakh acres of irrigation before 1974, the Tribunal's

final order recognised Tamil Nadu's right to develop only 21.38 lakh

acres. However, the Tribunal, in an unreasonable and inequitable

manner, allocated water to Tamil Nadu for irrigating an additional

3.32 lakh acres on the vague ground of "merit and equity". This
346

additional allocation for 3.32 lakh acres lay squarely outside the

ambit of the 1924 Agreement and could not be termed as equitable

apportionment. Further, the Tribunal's allocation of water was not

based on the principles of equitable apportionment as elaborated in

the Helsinki Rules, 1966 which set out that such kind of

apportionment must be done to satisfy the needs of a basin State

without causing substantial injury to a co-basin State. The

Tribunal allocated water on the basis of the 1924 Agreement which

was based on flow rather than on the basis of established and

comparative needs of the parties. He submitted that Karnataka's

stance before the Tribunal had always been that the needs of the

States, rather than the flow of the water, ought to be the basis for

apportionment. This need-based apportionment depends on the

contribution of water to the river valley by each State, the

population of each State in the river basin and the cultivable area

of each State in the basin requiring application of water to grow

crops. None of these factors had been given due importance by the

Tribunal even though they were highlighted by this Court in In Re:
347

Presidential Reference (Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal)

(supra).

293. He submitted that such quantum of water had been allocated

after taking into account the land in Tamil Nadu which was outside

the scope and purview of the 1924 Agreement. Tamil Nadu itself

had consistently taken the stand that the 1924 Agreement was the

law on the subject and that the parties had to be governed by the

terms therein. Thus, Tamil Nadu could not benefit from excess

water allocated on the basis of land which lay outside the scope of

the 1924 Agreement. It is his further submission that over and

above the transgressions made by the Tribunal, it had also treated

Karnataka unfairly by failing to consider the constraints imposed

on Karnataka's predecessor State and by overlooking the needs of

Karnataka while allocating water. The Tribunal has given several

concessions to Tamil Nadu during the course of hearing and also

granted Tamil Nadu water far in excess of its needs and outside the

scope of the 1924 Agreement despite the evidence on record. He

highlighted this aspect by referring to the Saldanha Committee

Report, 1977 which had recommended large savings in existing use
348

of water and had allocated only 393 TMC of water to Tamil Nadu as

opposed to the significantly larger quantum allocated by the

Tribunal.

294. He argued that alternatively, the allocation of water could be

done equitably and in accordance with justice by restoring equal

rights to the party-States. He submitted that Karnataka and Tamil

Nadu were co-equal States and that justice had to be done to both

while allocating water, a fact which the Tribunal had failed to

recognise. He submitted that the various applicable factors set out

in the Helsinki Rules, 1966 were more or less evenly balanced

between the two States and the same have not been kept in view.

Further, based on the maxim that equality was equity, the balance

or remaining volume of water available after subtracting the share

of Kerala and Puducherry and after accounting for wastage ought to

have been divided equally between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

According to his calculations, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu would

each get 339.5 TMC of water.

349

S.2 Submission of Mr. S.S. Javali:

295. Supplementing the argument of Mr. Nariman, Mr. Javali,

learned senior counsel appearing for Karnataka, submitted that the

Tribunal had recorded its findings based on conjectures and

surmises rather than on evidence. He took this Court through the

record of proceedings to highlight the point as to how the Tribunal

had made several observations which are founded on materials on

record. Further, the Tribunal also allowed Tamil Nadu to file an

affidavit (Ext. 1665) regarding crop water requirement much after

the stage of closing of evidence and, in fact, relied upon the said

affidavit while allocating water. Karnataka was not even allowed to

cross examine Tamil Nadu on the said affidavit and Tamil Nadu

unjustly gained an advantage over Karnataka. Additionally, Tamil

Nadu failed to establish that it had suffered injury on account of

Karnataka's actions, a sine qua non for maintaining the complaint.

He also touched on several other aspects that the Tribunal failed to

consider, including drinking water for the city of Bengaluru, excess

water already available to Tamil Nadu, Karnataka's water projects

and its drought areas, and overall, the frustration of Karnataka's
350

claims and the denial of complete justice to Karnataka. The

Tribunal failed to account for all the aforesaid shortcomings and its

final decision was grossly violative of the principles of natural

justice.

296. He relied upon the judgments in In Re: Presidential

Reference (Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal) (supra), Union of

India and another v. Tulsiram Patel32, Satyavir Singh and

others v. Union of India and others33, A.K. Kaul and another v.

Union of India andanother34, Anisminic Ltd. v. Foreign

Compensation35, Ganga Kumar Srivastava v. State of Bihar36,

P.S.R. Sadhanantham v. Arunachalam and another37, Bengal

Chemicals Pharmaceuticals Works Ltd., Calcutta v. Their

Workmen38, Jose Da Costa another v. Bascora Sadasiv

Sinai Narcornim and others.39, Ram Piari v. Bhagwant and

others40, Phulchand Exports Ltd. v. O.O.O. Patriot41, Crompton

32 (1985) 3 SCC 398
33 (1985) 4 SCC 252
34 (1995) 4 SCC 73
35 [1969] 1 All ER 208
36 (2005) 6 SCC 211
37 (1980) 3 SCC 141
38 (1959) (Supp) (2) SCR 136
39 (1976) 2 SCC 917
40 (1990) 3 SCC 364
41 (2011) 10 SCC 300
351

Parkinson (Works) Pvt. Ltd., Bombay v. Its Workmen and

others42, Vashit Narain Sharma v. Dev Chandra and others43,

Ram Bharosey Agarwal v. Har Swarup Maheshwari44 and

Jamshed Hormusji Wadia v. Board of Trustees, Port of

Mumbai and another45.

S.3 Contention raised by Mr. Mohan V. Katarki:

297. Mr. Katarki, appearing for the State of Karnataka, urged that

the affidavit (Ext.1665) stated that the crop water requirements

mentioned therein were estimated in consultation with Tamil Nadu

Agriculture University; however, no material was placed on record

to justify such consultation. Certain formulae mentioned in the

affidavit (Ext. 1665) to arrive at the crop water requirements were

also incorrect. The assertions made in the affidavit (Ext.1665)

especially with regard to over estimation of evaporation of crops and

under estimation of effective rainfall, were blatantly incorrect. Tamil

Nadu also incorrectly interpreted the evidence of Karnataka in an

attempt to bolster its own case. Tamil Nadu also attempted to

42 (1959) Supp (2) SCR 936
43 (1955) 1 SCR 509
44 (1976) 3 SCC 435
45 (2004) 3 SCC 214
352

justify its affidavit (Ext. 1665) by arguing that the calculations

made therein with respect to evaporation were based on the

Government of India (GoI) guidelines, 1984 whereas Karnataka had

relied upon papers from the United Nations Food and Agriculture

Organisation (FAO). Tamil Nadu incorrectly argued that in such

conflict, the guidelines issued by the GoI had to take precedence.

He submitted that the GoI guidelines and FAO papers had to be

read together and that the methodology adopted by Tamil Nadu in

making such calculations was too general. Such general

methodology could not be applied to the specific facts of the case.

During cross examination, Tamil Nadu's own witness deposed that

Tamil Nadu's water requirement was only 242 TMC and on this

basis itself, the calculation of water to be provided by Karnataka at

the Mettur reservoir should have only been 137 TMC as against the

377 TMC claimed by Tamil Nadu.

298. He took this Court through the factual aspects of how the

quantity of rainfall affected the flow of the river. Heavy rainfall

resulted in greater run-off water which fed the river while moderate
353

or lesser rainfall resulted in lesser run-off as the water would

percolate into the ground and increase the level of ground water.

299. He then submitted that the Tribunal also failed to factor Tamil

Nadu's admission before the Cauvery Fact Finding Committee that

its Samba crop was fed primarily by the North-East monsoon. Tamil

Nadu intentionally downplayed the contribution of this rainfall in

its affidavit (Ext. 1665) to assert that it needed more water to

irrigate such crop. The Tribunal adopted almost the entirety of

Tamil Nadu's affidavit (Ext. 1665) for estimating crop water

requirements while making only minor corrections in its final order.

300. He further submitted that Tamil Nadu obstructed the

development of water projects in Karnataka thereby resulting in

large tracts of land in Karnataka remaining undeveloped. Tamil

Nadu wrongly invoked Karnataka's so-called obligation to obtain its

consent under the 1892 and 1924 Agreements and in the case of

the Kabini project, Tamil Nadu did not give its consent even after its

own technical officers had agreed to the same. Tamil Nadu also

stalled the Harangi project by wrongly insisting on consent from the
354

erstwhile State of Coorg which was not even a requirement under

the Agreements.

301. He then submitted that the equitable share of water to be

allocated to the party-States had to be based on needs rather than

on the flow of the river. No State had any right to natural flow of an

inter-state river and several factors had to be considered while

assessing the needs, like basin factors, drought area and

population. He took us through several doctrines and theories

including the Harmon Doctrine, Natural Flow Theory and Helsinki

Rules, 1966 to emphasise his point. He also relied upon the

judgment of New Jersey v. New York (supra).

302. He submitted that in Karnataka's case, the aforementioned

factors had to be looked at in combination with Karnataka's claim

under the 1924 Agreement of an area of 12.64 lakh acres.

Karnataka had a large extent of drought prone areas which

required a suitable allocation of water. While Karnataka claimed a

quantity of 408 TMC for irrigation of 27.29 lakh acres, the Tribunal

arbitrarily considered an area of only 18.85 lakh acres while

allocating water to Karnataka. The Tribunal applied the rule of
355

priority contrary to the rules of equitable apportionment and

excluded large areas of land based on incorrect interpretation of the

1924 Agreement and also reduced the water allocated to various

water projects based on flimsy reasoning. By reducing the

allocation of water to various water projects in Karnataka on the

ground of constraint of water availability/highly water-deficit basin,

the Tribunal was left with 45.08 TMC of water, termed as "balance

amount" of water, which it then distributed between all the States.

This reduction and redistribution of water was grossly

inappropriate and not based on the principles of equity. Such

volume of "balance amount of water" had been taken from

Karnataka's projects citing lack of water for other States and then

been unfairly distributed between all the States. As per Karnataka's

calculations, the actual amount of water to be allocated to Tamil

Nadu ought to have been 311.6 TMC as opposed to the amount of

390.85 TMC allocated by the Tribunal.

303. He then argued that Tamil Nadu was not entitled, either in law

or on fact, to claim water on the ground of protected use. He

submitted that the concept of "existing use" could not be claimed as
356

a right but could only be considered as a factor influencing

equitable apportionment. Existing use had to arise as a legally

protected interest of the State and was not justifiable either by

domestic law or by international law. Although several international

legislations provided for existing use, in each of those cases, it was

clear that existing use along with potential use was, at best, to be

considered as a contributing factor and not as a right. The extent of

existing use had to be measured by the concept of beneficial use

and not by diversion or natural flow. Tamil Nadu's claim of existing

use of water for irrigating 28.2 lakh acres was untenable. The

concept of whole flow/natural flow was also imposed on Mysore by

virtue of the impugned agreements. He has commended us to the

authorities in In Re: Presidential Reference (Cauvery Water

Disputes Tribunal) (supra), State of Nebraska v. State of

Wyoming (supra), State of Colorado v. State of New Mexico

(supra), The State of Washington Department of Ecology v.

Clarence E. and Peggy V. Grimes46 and In Re: Hague v. Nephi

Irrigation Co.47.

46 121 Wash. 2d. 459
47 16 Utah 421, 52 P. 765 (1898) : 41 LRA 311
357

304. He further argued that Karnataka was entitled to water

allocation of 407.70 TMC considering the scale of its existing and

ongoing water projects set out in its statement of claim before the

Tribunal in 1990. Tamil Nadu did not dispute that these water

projects presently existed and ongoing, rather it only argued that

they were unauthorized, illegal and operating without taking its

consent as supposedly mandated under the 1892 and 1924

Agreements.

305. He then submitted that the territorial changes of the riparian

States lying in the Cauvery river and its tributaries materially

affected the basis of rights and obligations of Madras and Mysore

under the 1924 Agreement. He elaborated as to how several

territories were either upper or lower riparian based on the 1892

and 1924 Agreements. After the commencement of the Constitution

and subsequently, the 1956 Act, the new State of Mysore, which

was originally a mid-riparian State, became an upper riparian State

and the State of Madras, which was earlier both upper and lower

riparian, became a lower riparian State.

358

306. He challenged Tamil Nadu's argument that water allocated to

Karnataka for its crop should be reduced. Karnataka's crop water

requirement had not been challenged by any State and any

argument to the contrary was merely an after-thought. Further,

Tamil Nadu's entire argument revolved around the premise that the

soil in Karnataka was unproductive for irrigation and was

unsustainable for paddy growth. This premise itself was baseless

insofar as Tamil Nadu admitted in its own pleadings that

Karnataka's soils were "favourable to grow a wide range of crops".

Further, the Helsinki Rules, which set out the basis for equitable

apportionment, did not recognise soil condition or quality as a

relevant factor in equitable allotment. The relevant factors were the

existence of cultivable land or area and shortage of rainfall to meet

the consumptive utilisation of crop. He also argued that one

riparian State's productive use of water was no ground to deprive

another co-riparian State's share.

307. It is canvassed by him that the Tribunal did not allocate

excessive water to Karnataka's water projects, especially the

Hemavathy Project. He urged that Karnataka was entitled to
359

construct a reservoir of 45 TMC with utilisation capacity of 67.5

TMC. Since the current gross capacity of the Hemavathy reservoir

was only 37.1 TMC and the Tribunal had allocated only 43.67 TMC,

there was no question of any excessive water being allocated to

Karnataka. As regards Tamil Nadu's argument that the number of

days to be considered for growing paddy in Karnataka should be

reduced from 145 days to 120 days and that the water allocation

should be reduced accordingly, as also the argument that the

puddling requirement should be reduced from 267 mm to 150/200

mm, he replied that these facts and figures had, in fact, been

nullified by the findings of the Tribunal and by the Assessors

appointed by the Tribunal whose findings were contrary to the said

argument.

308. He also challenged Tamil Nadu's argument before the Tribunal

that excessive water had been allocated to Karnataka for rice

cultivation. He submitted that the rice cultivated in Karnataka was

in drought regions and could not be compared to the rice cultivated

in non-drought areas in Tamil Nadu as there was a substantial

difference in contributing factors such as percolation and puddling
360

losses. Climatic constraints justified higher water allocation to

drought areas. For the same reason, Tamil Nadu's demand for

higher allocation of water was also unjustified and improper. Infact,

Tamil Nadu's cultivation of double crop was completely inconsistent

with the prevailing climatic conditions in the area. Tamil Nadu's

Kuruvai crop, which would have benefitted from water provided by

the North-East monsoon, was instead primarily sustained by

irrigation supplies from Karnataka as it was cultivated much before

the onset of the rains. The only sensible course of action would be

to disallow Tamil Nadu's Kuruvai double crop and allow only the

Samba single crop.

S.4 Proponements of Mr. Shyam Divan:

309. Mr. Divan, learned senior counsel appearing for Karnataka,

has stressed on the need to recognize the importance of ground

water while allocating available water resources. Ground water is a

renewable resource and, if not extracted regularly, would reduce

the absorption capacity of the underlying aquifer resulting in rain

water/surface water being wasted as run-off. Extraction of ground

water is, thus, an optimal utilisation of available resources.
361

310. He submitted that the Tribunal had erroneously excluded a

large coastal area while rejecting the argument for groundwater. He

also submitted that the Tribunal committed a patent error by

failing to reduce the amount of water allocated to Tamil Nadu

despite recognising the availability of 20 TMC ground water in

Tamil Nadu and the conjunctive use of the same along with surface

water. Such quantum of ground water ought to have been factored

in as an available/additional resource in Tamil Nadu for the

purposes of irrigation.

311. The quantum of water allocated to Tamil Nadu under the head

of "irrigation requirement" ought to have been reduced by the

quantum of available ground water by either 47 TMC (as per Tamil

Nadu's rejoinder recorded in the final report of the Tribunal) or 30

TMC (as per Tamil Nadu's pleadings) or, at the very least, 20 TMC

(as per the findings of the Tribunal) and, accordingly, the quantum

of water to be provided by Karnataka at the inter-state border also

ought to have been reduced proportionately. The efficiency of

utilising ground water, as compared to surface water, was much

higher and when factoring the available amount of ground water
362

and its greater utilisation efficiency, the aforementioned figures of

47/30/20 TMC ought to be increased to 72/46/30 TMC

respectively.

312. He then submitted that the Tribunal had completely

overlooked the water requirements for the city of Bengaluru in its

final order. Bengaluru being a metropolis with a burgeoning

population ought to have been treated as sui generis and been given

special dispensation while water was being allocated. Water supply

for Bengaluru was entirely sourced from the Cauvery river but its

use could not be treated as a trans-basin diversion as erroneously

claimed by Tamil Nadu which itself was responsible for trans-basin

diversion of water to irrigate an area of 3.29 lakh acres within its

territory. The Tribunal allocated a miniscule amount of 1.85 TMC to

Karnataka under the head "domestic and industrial water

requirement projected for 2011" while arriving at 20% consumptive

use for domestic purposes and 2.5% for industrial purposes. He did

not challenge the percentage of consumptive use; rather he

contended that the Tribunal had not considered the actual water

requirements for the city of Bengaluru.

363

313. He then contended that the Tribunal had wrongly considered

water allocation for only 1/3rd of the population of Bengaluru on the

basis that 36% of the city lay within the basin. This amount of

water was even further reduced by the Tribunal on the basis of

unverified figures provided by Tamil Nadu. The Tribunal also

reduced the quantum of water allocated to Bengaluru on the basis

that 50% of its needs could be met from groundwater without

relying upon any evidence or pleadings to that effect. For

Bengaluru, groundwater, at best, could be considered as a

complementary/supplementary source rather than a primary

source. While allocating water to the States, priority had to be given

to drinking water but the Tribunal had failed to consider this

aspect. Accordingly, Bengaluru should be given an increased water

allocation of 10.14 TMC.

314. He contended that the water requirements for Bengaluru were

projected up till the year 2011 as set out in the

pleadings/submissions which had been submitted at the time of

the initial hearing in 1990. Seventeen years had elapsed by the

time the final order was passed. The projections mentioned in the
364

pleadings, thus, could not be limited till the year 2011 especially

when the Tribunal itself had suggested that drinking water ought to

be calculated on the basis of projections for 2025. Despite this

factual situation, the Tribunal proceeded on the basis of projections

till the year 2011. The time gap between the submission of

pleadings and the final order ought to have been a relevant factor

while allocating water.

315. It is further urged by him that the Tribunal had erroneously

rejected Karnataka's claim of water for its second crop while

allowing Tamil Nadu's claim for second crop. Such rejection was

inequitable and improper. The Tribunal had allowed allocation of

water for Tamil Nadu's Thaladi second crop to the extent of 1.85

lakh acres with the justification that approximately 95,000 acres

were developed prior to 1924 and a further 90,000 acres were

developed as per the 1924 Agreement. Based on equitable

apportionment, Karnataka should have been allocated atleast the

same amount of water for an equivalent area of 1.85 lakh acres,

but the Tribunal failed to do so. Surprisingly, while recognising
365

Karnataka's entitlement for second crop to the extent of 67,000

acres, the Tribunal failed to allocate any water for the same.

316. The Tribunal also failed to account for the fact that

Karnataka's farmers had been growing second crops much prior to

1974 and by the time the final order was passed in 2007, the

farmers had been growing second crop for decades. These farmers

had developed their practices and expectations based on second

crop and it was wholly inequitable for the Tribunal to reject

Karnataka's claim. He also reiterated Karnataka's stance that the

final figure of 45.08 TMC "balance resource" of water was

erroneously arrived at. The Tribunal should have first considered

and allocated water for Karnataka's claim for second crop after

which it could have arrived at a "balance" amount of water

available.

317. It is his further submission that the Tribunal had incorrectly

rejected all schemes for lift irrigation in its final order. This was

problematic for Karnataka which relied upon lift irrigation,

particularly in drought-prone areas like the Kabini region, to the

extent of almost 3.04 lakh acres which requires approximately 18
366

TMC of water. Tamil Nadu, on the other hand, primarily relied on

flow irrigation and minor irrigation and did not have any major lift

irrigation schemes. Thus, the Tribunal's order rejecting all lift

irrigation schemes substantially affected Karnataka while making

negligible impact on Tamil Nadu.

318. He also argued that the Tribunal had unjustifiably allocated

an excess amount of water to Tamil Nadu with respect to the

Cauvery Mettur project. The 54.68 TMC of water allocated to Tamil

Nadu for 3.21 lakh acres was based on the deposition of Tamil

Nadu‘s Witness No. 1 and Tamil Nadu's affidavit (Ext. 1665). The

deposition of Tamil Nadu's Witness No. 1 confirmed the contents of

the Cauvery Mettur Project Report which indicated that Tamil

Nadu's water requirement was actually 41.89 TMC. On the other

hand, Ext. 1665 had no evidentiary value since the same was an

unverified affidavit for which Karnataka was not allowed to cross-

examine the deponent. Even the Tribunal had indicated that the

said affidavit would not be relied upon for supporting Tamil Nadu's

case, rather it would only be used as an admission. The reliance

placed on Ext. 1665 was misplaced and ought not to have been
367

considered at all. The evidence of Tamil Nadu‘s Witness No. l

should have been the sole criteria for allocation of water for the

Cauvery Mettur project. Thus, the Tribunal should have allocated

not more than 41.89 TMC of water to Tamil Nadu for the said

project and not 54.68 TMC as done in the final order.

319. Finally, he submitted that the Tribunal had failed to recognize

that the area of irrigation requiring water allocation, as submitted

by Tamil Nadu, was covered by two irrigation projects/systems in

Tamil Nadu and had awarded an excess amount of 9.51 TMC in

that regard. This "double accounting" of irrigable areas was

erroneous and the water allocated to Tamil Nadu had to be

proportionately reduced. Tamil Nadu's witness, A.

Mohanakrishnan, had himself admitted that the existing second

crop area was 70,000 acres whereas the Tribunal considered the

area to be 87,500 acres. Similar admissions had been made with

respect to other areas in Tamil Nadu. Thus, the water allocated by

the Tribunal was far in excess of the water required by such areas

for irrigation.

368

T. Arguments put forth by the State of Tamil Nadu

T.1 Submissions of Mr. Shekhar Naphade:

320. Mr. Naphade, learned senior counsel, opened the arguments

on behalf of the State of Tamil Nadu by taking this Court through

several documents, including the National Water Policies of 1987

and 1992, the Helsinki Rules, 1966 and the Campione

Consolidation of the International Law Association Rules on

International Water Resources, relevant historical aspects of the

matter and the evidence on record. He also took this Court through

the scope and extent of the 1956 Act and pointed out the interplay

between several sections of the Act. He submitted that the term

'agreement' as mentioned in Section 2(c) of the 1956 Act included

all agreements executed prior to the coming into force of the Act

and that there was no limitation on any kind of agreement under

this section. Even pre-1947 agreements in relation to the use,

distribution or control of inter-State waters were brought under this

ambit. Thus, Karnataka's submission that the 1892 and 1924

Agreements were not within the scope of the said Act was baseless.
369

He submitted that the river was a hydrological unit and remained

unaffected by political boundaries.

321. He then took this Court through certain statistical data and

evidence on the basis of which water ought to be apportioned

between the States. He submitted that the water ought to be

apportioned equitably in line with the formula laid down in the

Helsinki Rules, 1966. The density of population is much higher in

Tamil Nadu than in Karnataka thus putting a greater demand on

water for all sectoral uses. He submitted that the Cauvery basin

upto the Mettur Dam is influenced by the South-West monsoons

whereas the area downstream of the Mettur Dam is influenced by

the North-East monsoons which are erratic, undependable and,

being associated with cyclonic storms, also responsible for heavy

rainfall and consequent loss of agricultural produce in the basin.

Karnataka is primarily influenced by the more effective South-West

monsoons whereas Tamil Nadu, lying downstream from the Mettur

Dam, faces the brunt of the ineffective North-East monsoons. He

stressed that the North-East monsoons could not be relied upon for

irrigation owing to their unpredictability, a fact which Karnataka's
370

witnesses had also deposed to. He referred to the Saldanha Report,

1977, specifically the chart therein, which set out the storage

capacity of water much above the 124 TMC figure. He expressed his

apprehension that if Karnataka was granted further capacity to

store water, such excess water retention would be the cause for

further disputes between the States.

322. On the aspect of soil capacity in the two States, he submitted

that while Tamil Nadu has clayey soil which is ideal for paddy

cultivation, Karnataka has red, loamy/laterite soil which is more

suited for dry crop. He highlighted several pieces of evidence to

buttress this argument including depositions from Karnataka's

witnesses wherein it has been stated that Karnataka should restrict

its rice crop and not grow a second rice crop. He submitted that the

water requirement for growing paddy in Tamil Nadu is substantially

less than the requirement for growing the same amount of paddy in

Karnataka and there is greater productivity of growing paddy crops

in Tamil Nadu. He also mentioned that the recommendations made

by the C.C. Patel Committee were outdated and that Karnataka's

reliance on the same was unjustified.

371

323. He also set out the three main kinds of paddy crop grown in

Tamil Nadu, namely, Kuruvai, Thaladi and Samba, and the water

requirements for growing these crops and how Tamil Nadu's climate

was ideal for growing such crop. He submitted that owing to the

cropping pattern combined with the soil types, there should be no

restriction on Tamil Nadu for growing second crop of paddy

whereas Karnataka should be restricted from growing any second

rice crop and even its first rice crop should be limited. He has

placed reliance on data and evidence regarding Karnataka's Kabini

and Hemavathy water projects. He argued that these projects had

violated the provisions of the 1892 and 1924 Agreements and have

affected Tamil Nadu's existing use of water. It is submitted that

Karnataka constructed the Hemavathy Project without taking Tamil

Nadu's consent and also failed to provide Tamil Nadu with details

about the project as mandated under the 1892 and 1924

Agreements. The Hemavathy reservoir was designed in such a way

as to deplete its entire storage capacity without making provisions

for carry-over storage thereby preventing any surplus water from

being released to Tamil Nadu. Karnataka proposed the Kabini
372

Project in such a manner as to utilise the entire yield of water at

the site of the dam thereby denying water to the lower riparian

States. The Kabini reservoir diminished the flow of water

downstream to Tamil Nadu, thus, affecting Tamil Nadu's existing

use. Karnataka submitted multiple proposals for supplementing the

water from this project with lift irrigation schemes but this was

expressly disallowed by the Tribunal in its final order. In spite of

this, Karnataka has gone ahead and executed a lift irrigation

scheme in the Kabini sub-basin and utilized the same for irrigation,

while refusing to release water to Tamil Nadu.

324. He submitted that while the Tribunal had overall allocated

water to Karnataka for an area of 18.853 lakh acres, that figure

included an area of 3.44 lakh acres which had been erroneously

allowed on grounds of merit without any evidence or material to

justify the same. Thus, the overall figure of 18.853 lakh acres

deserved to be reduced by 3.44 lakh acres. This was without

prejudice to the argument that the area to be considered had to be

restricted to the existing area as in June 1990, the cut-off date for

the Tribunal's consideration. Further, the area under consideration
373

for Karnataka's Kharif paddy has to be reduced and the number of

days for cultivation also had to be cut down from 145 to 125 days.

He stressed on the evidence on record submitting that there is

uncontroverted expert opinion which categorically states that

Karnataka was responsible for wastage of large quantities of water

and that Karnataka ought to reduce its paddy crop. This evidence

had not been considered by the Tribunal. He also submitted that

Karnataka should not be allowed to draw water from the major

water reservoirs, viz., Harangi, Hemavathy, Krishna Raja Sagara

and Kabini, during the summer season except for perennial crop

and domestic needs and this, too, has to be monitored by the

Regulatory Authority. He suggested that Karnataka ought to

consider the possibility of building another dam above Mettur at

the border to resolve its water problems.

325. It is further argued by him that around 64% of Bengaluru lay

outside the basin and the Tribunal was right to consider only

1/3rd of Bengaluru's needs while determining its water supply. Any

further water supplied to Bengaluru would amount to trans-basin

diversion in complete contravention of the principles of equitable
374

apportionment, the National Water Policy and the Helsinki Rules,

1966. Such trans-basin diversion is detrimental and would lead to

chaos. He also submitted that Karnataka's contention that the

Tribunal ought to have considered water projections for the year

2025 would necessarily imply that water resources for Tamil

Nadu's territories, especially the urban areas, would also have to be

distributed in the same light. Karnataka did not follow the Town

Planning Act/Rules and allowed Bengaluru to grow unchecked and

unplanned and also failed to plan for the development of

Bengaluru's water supply, a fact made clear from its Master Plan of

1976 which significantly omits to provide for the domestic water

needs of Bengaluru. Further, Karnataka did not treat the sewage

water released by Bengaluru and such sewage was being released

into the Cauvery which, in turn, was flowing down to Tamil Nadu.

Karnataka would be able to procure a large amount of water for

Bengaluru if it treated such sewage water.

326. He argued that Karnataka already had adequate and alternate

water resources for Bengaluru, including ground water, the

Netravathy River and the Tungabhadra tributary of Krishna River.
375

These resources were under-utilised and could be used to provide

water to Bengaluru. Per contra, Chennai was woefully in short

supply of water owing to lack of water resources and poor rainfall.

Tamil Nadu was forced to divert water from other areas to Chennai

to meet such shortfall. He argued that it was unfair to burden

Tamil Nadu with the responsibility of providing for Bengaluru's

water supply when Karnataka itself had been negligent in planning

for it, especially when the Cauvery basin was a drought basin and

large parts of Tamil Nadu were also drought prone.

327. He also stressed on Tamil Nadu's method used to calculate

crop water requirements as the guidelines based on Food and

Agriculture Organisation (FAO) guidelines which were also recorded

in the Government of India (GoI) Guidelines, 1984. He took this

Court through the various factors and calculations involved under

these guidelines, including evapo-transpiration, percolation loss,

puddling and nursery requirements, system efficiency and effective

rainfall. He submitted that Tamil Nadu had adopted calculations

for the above factors based on the FAO and that Karnataka's
376

contention that Tamil Nadu had miscalculated the extent of evapo-

transpiration and effective rainfall was baseless.

328. He argued that as on the cut-off date (June 1990), Tamil Nadu

had developed/irrigated an area of 29.269 lakh acres whereas the

area developed in 1972 was 28.208 lakh acres. Despite the above

figures, the Tribunal gave a concession for only 24.708 lakh acres

while also disallowing large areas for second crop even though the

agro-climatic conditions prevalent in the area were ideal for raising

two crops. He highlighted that while Tamil Nadu had adopted 60%

overall efficiency while calculating the gross irrigation requirement

which was the maximum possible level allowed, the Tribunal chose

to adopt a higher figure of 65%. He took this Court through the

evidence and record to submit that the Tribunal ought to have

allocated a higher quantum of water to Tamil Nadu and reduced

the quantum allocated to Karnataka. He submitted that under the

1924 Agreement, both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu were allowed to

extend the area under irrigation solely by improvement of duty,

without any increase in the quantity of water used, apart from the

area permitted under Clauses 10(iv) and 10(v). Karnataka strictly
377

adhered to the 1924 Agreement till 1974 but claimed entitlement

for areas which it had not even developed after 1974. Tamil Nadu

never claimed any extra quantity of water other than the volume it

was entitled to under the Agreement. He also stressed on the need

to allow Tamil Nadu double cropping owing to the favourable

climatic and soil conditions whereas Karnataka ought not to be

allowed double cropping owing to its drought areas and sub-

standard soil conditions.

329. He then countered Karnataka's submission that groundwater

was an additional resource and submitted that such water supply

could not be considered as an additional resource as it was

recharged by surface water and was subject to various factors like

rainfall and soil characteristics. Ground water levels were not

consistent throughout the year and Karnataka's construction of

water projects had even reduced the flow of water into the Mettur

Reservoir which, in turn, had drastically reduced the groundwater

recharge level available to Tamil Nadu. Estimating the levels of

ground water was scientifically complicated and difficult requiring

huge amounts of data and field exploration. In fact, there was no
378

single comprehensive technique to determine ground water and

Karnataka's own witness had deposed that it was not possible to

estimate the recharge component of ground water when it was

recharged by surface flows and rainfall. The other Water Tribunals

like NWDT and KWDT had not considered groundwater to be a

factor while apportioning water, a fact which was recorded by the

Tribunal. The UNDP Report relied upon by Karnataka to establish

its argument was not relevant in the present context as the same

was outdated and there had been a substantial change in the flow

regime. The Central Water Board too had not agreed with the

assessment of the UNDP Report, concluding that the use of ground

water could not be reckoned as use of the Cauvery river water. He

also referred to the study conducted by W. Barber of World Bank,

1985 and the UNDP Study Report, 1973 in that regard.

330. He submitted that in any event, from February to June/July,

the water requirements of the entire Delta region had to be met

from ground water as there was no surface flow during that time.

Reports from government bodies recorded that the groundwater

was required for domestic and livestock uses during the aforestated
379

months and, thus, such water could not be used for irrigation

purposes. Additionally, groundwater in the Delta region was used

for protective irrigation and to grow early nurseries. He submitted

that the evidence on record showed that in the Cauvery Delta

region, reduction in surface flow resulted in lesser groundwater

recharge which ultimately resulted in salt water intrusion from the

sea. The quality of available ground water was ultimately poor,

saline/brackish and unsuitable for use.

331. He submitted that Karnataka could not ask for 5 TMC water

out of the 10 TMC which had been allotted to Tamil Nadu towards

environmental needs. He submitted that a certain minimum flow of

the river had to be maintained to keep the river free flowing as set

out in the National Water Policy, 2002. Such natural flow could not

be considered as wastage as it was essential for maintaining the

ecology and ecosystem in and around the river. He also submitted

that as regards the allegation that 88 TMC of water was going into

the sea and being wasted, there were several factors to consider in

that regard and that Tamil Nadu was taking utmost care to ensure

that no wastage occurred. A certain minimum standard of outflow
380

had to be maintained to prevent erosion, reduce salt water

intrusion and to maintain marine life and bio diversity. Further, the

topography of the Delta region was such that no viable storage area

could be built to conserve this water. He submitted that the

North-East monsoons, being erratic, would result in heavy showers,

not all of which could be conserved.

332. Further, Karnataka's contention that there had to be an equal

apportionment of water between the two States was untenable. He

relied upon the observation made by the Narmada and Krishna

Water Disputes Tribunals that the principle of equality did not

imply that there must be an equal division of water between the

States but instead meant that the States must have equal

consideration and equal economic opportunity. Such equality

would not necessarily result in the same quantity of water being

provided to the parties.

333. He stressed that Tamil Nadu needed month-wise release of

water from June onwards to ensure that its Kuruvai crops were

irrigated. Post 1974, Karnataka had been impounding water in its

reservoirs and delaying flow of water to Tamil Nadu and contending
381

that any shortfall could be adjusted at the end of the season. He

submitted that the water was needed at a particular time, from

June onwards, to irrigate its crops and that any end-of-season

release of water would not fulfill the objective of such water being

used for irrigation purposes.

334. He also argued that Karnataka had been persistently defiant

in preventing Tamil Nadu from utilizing its share of the Cauvery

water and that such defiance necessitated the need for the Cauvery

Management Board. Karnataka had started construction on four

reservoirs across the Cauvery tributaries, viz., Kabini, Hemavathy,

Suvarnavathy and Harangi, without taking the requisite approvals

from the Planning Commission or consent from Tamil Nadu.

Karnataka also objected to the formation of the Tribunal and

needlessly delayed the proceedings. Even after the formation of the

Tribunal, Karnataka violated the Tribunal's interim order which

had directed it to release 205 TMC of water at Mettur. Karnataka

even went so far as to promulgate an Ordinance to nullify the

interim order which was then set aside by this Court. Even when

compelled to follow the interim order, Karnataka delayed in
382

constituting the implementation machinery required to enforce the

said order and also challenged the Tribunal's order in separate

court proceedings to delay its implementation. Karnataka also

refused to strictly follow the order thereby failing to ensure monthly

quantities of water inflows at the Mettur during the June period.

Even after the final award was passed, Karnataka failed to ensure

stipulated flows mandated by the award. In the light of Karnataka's

transgressions, he submitted that there was a need for effective

machinery to implement the Tribunal's order.

335. He also argued that the Tribunal was completely justified in

rejecting Kerala's claims for trans-basin diversion of water. Kerala

had wrongly claimed that the Cauvery basin was a surplus basin,

something completely contrary to fact and which had been recorded

by the Tribunal. Trans-basin diversion of water could not be

allowed unless the needs of in-basin requirements were met and

even then, such diversion was against the spirit of the Inter-State

Water Disputes Act. Kerala wished to operate its hydro-electric

projects but the Tribunal had clearly held that irrigation projects

had to be given preference to. Kerala tried to hoodwink the Tribunal
383

by adding irrigation components to its hydro-electric projects. The

irrigation components were incidental to the primary use of these

projects and in fact, such projects had not even been approved by

the competent authorities.

336. Even otherwise, the irrigation sought to be achieved by Kerala

was excessively high and was done so without keeping in mind its

limitations in respect of soil and topography which required

excessive water to be utilised. Kerala was seeking to grow summer

and perennial crops utilizing water from a deficient basin which

was an unsuitable proposition. Kerala already had a good irrigation

system in place and such irrigation was supplemented by rainfall

which it receives. Kerala also received drinking water supply from

the Siruvani reservoir and several dams had already been

constructed across its rivers for providing water. The Tribunal,

thus, rightly rejected Kerala's claims.

337. He also challenged Karnataka's submission as regards its

drought area. He submitted that there is no universally accepted

definition of drought and if at all drought is to be considered as a

factor for equitable apportionment, then Tamil Nadu too has a
384

significant drought area. Karnataka's claimed drought area is

highly exaggerated but if the Tribunal was to consider Karnataka's

drought area while allocating water, then Tamil Nadu also ought to

be given a proportionate share of water to irrigate its own drought

area.

T.2 Contentions raised by Mr. Rakesh Dwivedi:

338. Mr. Dwivedi, learned senior counsel appearing for Tamil Nadu,

argued, apart from other aspects which we have already addressed,

on the aspect of injury suffered by/prejudicial affectation caused to

Tamil Nadu on account of Karnataka's actions. He submitted that

there was ample evidence on record to prove that Karnataka's

upstream abstraction post 1974 substantially reduced the area and

quantum of water available to Tamil Nadu. Karnataka increased

the area of irrigation much beyond the scope of the 1924

Agreement which, in turn, affected the existing irrigation of Tamil

Nadu and the evidence for the same had been placed before the

Tribunal. It was further submitted that existing use of water was a
385

facet of equitable apportionment and Karnataka had failed to prove

that its planned diversion of water would not harm the existing,

established use. Tamil Nadu's claim was not with regard to the flow

of water, as wrongly claimed by Karnataka, rather it was based on

protection of existing use established under the 1892 and 1924

Agreements.

339. He argued that Karnataka's plea that the erstwhile State of

Madras effectively had veto power over its water projects was

untenable. The entire purpose of seeking consent from Madras

before constructing any water project was to ensure that existing

irrigation was not jeopardized and even otherwise, consent was

always required from the lower riparian State when constructing

such projects. He also submitted that there had been no violation

of natural justice by the Tribunal while hearing the matter. It was

submitted that the Tribunal had clearly analysed every parameter

and made suitable changes to such parameters as required while

passing the final order. Tamil Nadu's affidavit (Ext. 1665) was

merely a collation of materials already available on record.
386

Pertinently, Karnataka itself contended that the Tribunal's

Assessors were not competent to assess crop water requirement as

they relied on Ext. 1665 but then relied upon the Assessors'

recommendation for justifying its own crop water requirement.

340. Both Mr. Naphade and Mr. Dwivedi touched upon the scope

and extent of this Court's power under Article 136 of the

Constitution of India to hear an appeal against the Tribunal's

orders. It was submitted that this Court had the discretion to use

such power and that while the extent of this power is wide in

amplitude, this Court has traditionally applied judicial restraint

while exercising it. It is submitted that the present dispute is

complex and riddled with factual and scientific complexities which

this Court may find insurmountable while assessing. It is also put

forth that the Tribunal had taken into account various factual

aspects and relied upon the assistance of technical experts while

considering the scientific principles applicable to the present

dispute in the course of the long hearing in the matter. The

Tribunal has also considered socio-economic factors and public

interest while rendering its final decision. Considering the above
387

submissions, a thorough understanding of scientific principles as

well as possessing a relevant discipline in science to apply the

scientific principles to the factual matrix is required and it is an

exercise which would not fit into the accepted principle of judicially

manageable standards.

341. Mr. Naphade and Mr. Dwivedi have placed reliance on number

of decisions to bolster their stand some of which have already been

referred to and some shall be referred to wherever necessary.

U. Arguments advanced on behalf of the State of Kerala

342. Mr. Jaideep Gupta, learned senior counsel appearing on

behalf of the State of Kerala, submitted that Kerala contributed

around 147 TMC to the Cauvery basin, around 20% of the water,

and had asked for a proportionate share of water by claiming

99.8 TMC. The Tribunal, however, had allocated a meagre 30 TMC

of water to Kerala, around 4%, for its needs. Such allocation is

absolutely not equitable. He argued that equity, and not equality,

should govern the allocation of water between the States and that it

was unreasonable that Karnataka and Tamil Nadu should be given
388

equal share of the entire amount of water allocated by the Tribunal.

The concept of equity has been recognized in the Helsinki Rules,

1966 and the factors governing such apportionment have also been

mentioned therein, later affirmed in the Berlin Rules.

343. He went into the historical perspective and explained to this

Court as to how Kerala, which was not party to the 1892 and 1924

Agreements, became introduced to the dispute. He submitted that

Karnataka and Tamil Nadu were not wholly representative of the

Cauvery basin and that Kerala too was an integral part of the

basin, contributing a large percentage of the water. The 1892 and

1924 Agreements executed by and between Mysore and Madras did

not bind Kerala, which was not party to the same. None of the

predecessor States to Kerala, viz., Travancore, Cochin or Malabar,

were recognized as interested parties during the disputes between

the riparian States of the Cauvery basin and these riparian States

also objected to the involvement of Kerala in the dispute. He

elaborated that even as per the definitions given in the 1956 Act,

Kerala could not be considered as a principal successor State to its

predecessor as its predecessor States were not party to the 1924
389

Agreement. As the 1892 and 1924 Agreements were in the form of

treaties entered into between two sovereign entities, the Tribunal

lacked the jurisdiction to enforce them. He also submitted that

when Kerala raised its objections before this Court regarding the

necessity to be involved in the matter, it was told to abstain from

the proceedings until the matter was finally adjudicated between

Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

344. He submitted that allocation of water by the Tribunal was

required to be based on certain factors and that such allocation

had to be done in a particular manner. First, the Tribunal had to

determine the total yield of basin water including surface and

ground water. Then, the total yield of water had to be apportioned

and there had to be a mechanism for release of such water. Finally,

there needed to be a monitoring system to ensure that such release

of water was done properly. He also submitted that the allocation of

water had to be done on a need-based priority and the Tribunal

ought to have considered the consumptive and non-consumptive

needs while making such allocation.

390

345. He submitted that although the Kabini and Bhavani

tributaries of the Cauvery flowed through the erstwhile Malabar

district of Madras, yet no developmental activities could be taken

up in that region. Even after the State of Kerala was formed in 1956

by combining Travancore, Cochin and Malabar, it could not take up

any developmental activities in the Malabar region due to protests

from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka who argued that the 1924

Agreement could only be reviewed in 1974. Even after 1974, all but

one of Kerala's projects were denied sanction by the Central

Government despite the fact that the Cauvery Basin in Kerala had a

high head and steep gradient, thus, making the area ideal for

generation of hydro-electricity. Owing to its geography and

topography, Kerala has a higher capacity/potential to generate

hydro-electricity. This fact had been proved before the Tribunal.

Kerala also has an acute shortage of electricity, a problem which

has stunted its industrial growth and there is a pressing need to

utilise the potential of water projects in the State. There was also

an inability to set up alternate types of power plants like nuclear

power owing to the topography of the region. Also, the rainfall
391

distribution in Kerala was such that there is no rain in summer

and the west flowing rivers within the State go dry during the

summer thereby causing water scarcity. All these factors have

necessitated the construction of water projects in Kerala.

346. He argued that the Tribunal's refusal to allow Kerala's water

projects is based on an erroneous assumption that such projects

would result in trans-basin diversion of water. He submitted that

Tamil Nadu and Karnataka had exaggerated their claims resulting

in an impression being created that the Cauvery basin could not

cater to their needs and, hence, was water deficient. He argued that

legally, there is no bar on preventing trans-basin diversion from a

water deficit basin. He also touched upon the concept of the

doctrine of stability and submitted that while the Tribunal had the

jurisdiction to allocate the water to the States, the States are to be

allowed to utilise such water in a manner that they deemed fit and

that the Tribunal could not dictate as to how the States used such

water. Next, he argued that in the present case, trans-basin

diversion is essential to ensure the most economical way of utilizing

the river's water and that a basin State must have full freedom to
392

utilise the waters which it is entitled to. He further argued that the

Tribunal had allowed water projects to come up in Tamil Nadu and

Karnataka which have actually diverted water from the Cauvery

basin but in Kerala's case, where there was an urgent and pressing

need for such projects, the Tribunal has rejected Kerala's

proposals. Finally, he argued that the rights in interstate river

waters belonged to the inhabitants of the basin State and not to the

inhabitants of the basin itself.

347. He argued that the Tribunal has erroneously omitted to

account for 20TMC of ground water which was available in Tamil

Nadu. Tamil Nadu had access to ground water resources while

Kerala did not as set out in the report of the Cauvery Fact Finding

Committee. He also argued that the Tribunal has failed to account

for the hydrology of the basin, particularly the contribution of water

by each basin State. The Tribunal ought to have allocated

appropriate volume of water for Kerala's Banasurasagar project, the

Mananthody Scheme and Kerala Bhavani Scheme, apart from other

water projects being developed in the State.

393

348. He also challenged the Tribunal's decision to make Kerala

adopt a single-crop paddy. He argued that Tamil Nadu and

Puducherry had been allocated water for three-crop paddy as also

for dry irrigated crops, whereas Kerala's farmers had been barred

from cultivating their crops in their traditional manner. He argued

that the Tribunal's decision is contrary to the prevailing geological,

geomorphological, climatic and soil patterns prevalent in the State

and also erroneous in restricting Kerala from optimal cropping

patterns. Combined with the Tribunal's decision to restrict all lift

irrigation schemes, the Tribunal's decision left Kerala with limited

cultivation.

349. He has further submitted that Tamil Nadu has been

intentionally obstructing Kerala from setting up water projects as it

was benefitting from the transitional provisions in the Tribunal's

award. He submitted that pending the completion of its water

projects, Kerala was unable to retain the full amount of 30TMC

water allocated to it. The Tribunal has directed Kerala to release

water in excess of 30TMC to Karnataka and Tamil Nadu until it is
394

capable of utilizing the full capacity. To benefit from this

transitional provision, Tamil Nadu has purposely been impeding

Kerala's water projects.

350. He submitted that the Tribunal has failed to make provisions

for surplus water, restricting Kerala's water allocation to 30 TMC a

year in case of a surplus. This would benefit the other States due to

lack of a specific provision for sharing surplus water with Kerala.

He also submitted that Tamil Nadu is responsible for wasting large

amounts of water and that the Tribunal has failed to rectify the

situation. He also submitted that Kerala ought to be compensated

for the water supplied from its Siruvani reservoir to Coimbatore. He

referred to the judgments of in In Re: Presidential Reference

(Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal) (supra) and Tamil Nadu

Cauvery Neerppasana Vilaiporulgal Vivasayigal Nala Urimai

Padhugappu Sangam v. Union of India and others48 while

making his submissions.

48 1990 (3) SCC 440
395

V. Submissions urged on behalf of Union Territory of
Puducherry

351. Mr. Nambiar, learned senior counsel appearing for the Union

Territory of Puducherry, submitted that Puducherry had claimed 9

TMC of water for its needs whereas the Tribunal had allocated only

7 TMC of water to it. Puducherry was now seeking only an

additional 1 TMC of water to be allocated to it from the month of

June onwards which could either be released by Tamil Nadu or be

allocated to Puducherry out of the 10 TMC reserved by the Tribunal

for environmental purposes.

352. He submitted that Puducherry's topography, soil and climatic

conditions favoured cultivation of only paddy crop and that no

other crop could survive in the heavy clay prevalent in the region's

soil. Further, the topography in the region being plain and

monotonous, there was no scope for putting up storage structures

for holding water and Puducherry was completely dependent on the

water released by Mettur dam. He submitted that Puducherry has

27,000 acres of cultivable area which has remained static over the

years and that there is no scope for increase of such area. He also

submitted that the rainfall in the region is erratic coming primarily
396

from the North-East monsoons. This resulted in heavy bursts of

rain with long, dry spells. Such sudden and heavy influx of water

damaged the standing crops and flowed into the sea since there is

no facility capable of storing such water. Thus, Puducherry's only

reliable source of water is from the Mettur Dam. However, water

released from the Mettur Dam is sometimes insufficient for

Puducherry's needs and is incapable of irrigating Puducherry's

entire paddy crop.

353. He then submitted that there is no extractable ground water

in the region due to the intrusion of saline water from the

neighbouring Bay of Bengal. He submitted that saline water has

intruded 6 kilometres into the land along the river channels and

has rendered wells and shallow aquifers unusable for irrigation and

domestic needs. In light of this, he submitted that ground water

could not be taken into consideration while allocating river water.

He also argued that the Tribunal's scope of adjudication is limited

to inter-State river water and that ground water could not be

treated as river water. While the Berlin Rules set out that river
397

water included groundwater, no such definition is available either

in the Constitution or any other Indian law.

354. He also submitted the cropping pattern in Puducherry

required higher allocation of water. He submitted that Kuruvai crop

is grown between July and September after which Thaladi crop is

grown on the same land and then the Samba crop is grown. He

submitted that the Kuruvai and Samba crop could only be planted

after flushing off the salt on the land. This flushing required around

0.5TMC of water before planting the crop in June. The Tribunal,

however, erroneously directed Puducherry to obtain the requisite

water from rainwater, the supply of which was not only erratic but

also primarily occurring from October onwards.

355. He submitted that despite the Tribunal having allocated 7TMC

of water to Puducherry, such volume is not being made available to

it. He submitted that since Puducherry does not have adequate

storage capacity, such volume of water ought to be made available

by Tamil Nadu at the border.

356. He argued that Puducherry has not filed an appeal under

Article 136 of the Constitution against the Tribunal's final order as
398

it is of the opinion that this Court could not entertain such an

appeal against the final order. Hence, Puducherry had filed an

application under Section 5(3) of the 1956 Act instead, which is

pending. He argued that since this Court is hearing the matter

finally, Puducherry's application under Section 5(3) ought to be

considered by this Court.

357. He also submitted that the waters of the Cauvery ought to be

free-flowing for effective utilisation and in the light of the same,

Karnataka ought not to be allowed to build any further structures

to impede/obstruct such flow.

W. Arguments on behalf of Union of India

358. Mr. Ranjit Kumar, the learned Solicitor General of India,

contended that the purpose of enacting the 1956 Act is to provide a

mechanism for adjudication of water disputes arising among the

various States and that it is a complete code in itself. He took this

Court through various sections of the Act to buttress his argument

that a con-joint reading of Sections 4, 6, 6A and 11 provides for the

constitution of a Tribunal to hear water disputes, the power to

make a scheme to implement the decision of the Tribunal and
399

further there is a constitutional bar on the jurisdiction of this Court

and other courts in respect of such water disputes. Such extensive

provisions highlight that the Act is a complete code in itself.

359. He submitted that as per the provisions of the Act, once the

Tribunal's award has been published in the Official Gazette, the

same is final and the mechanism for implementation of this award

is set out in Section 6A of the Act and empowers the Central

Government to make schemes to implement the said award. Such

scheme had to be tabled before both Houses of the Parliament. The

Central Government is also empowered to decide the jurisdiction

and powers of the Authority established to implement the

Tribunal's award. As contrasted with the provisions of the

Consumer Protection Act which allowed for the Consumer Forum's

order to be sent to a civil court for execution in case the Forum was

unable to execute it, the provisions of the 1956 Act only allows for

the award of the Tribunal to be treated as a decree of this Court

and be implemented by virtue of a Central Government scheme.

360. It is submitted by Mr. Ranjit Kumar, learned Solicitor General

appearing for the Union of India, that the word used ―may‖ instead
400

of ―shall‖ has a purpose because in certain situations there may be

no necessity to frame a scheme for implementation of the awards

passed by the Tribunal. He has apprised us that awards were

passed by the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal, Godavari Water

Disputes Tribunal and Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal and a

scheme for implementation of award was framed when required and

only in the case of Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal and no

scheme was framed in respect of awards passed by the other

Tribunals. According to him, framing of a scheme is not mandatory

and the Central Government being alive to its role shall do the

needful at the relevant time. It is further argued that it is the

mandate of the 1956 Act that the scheme framed under Section 6A

is to be by laying before both Houses of the Parliament and, hence,

it has to be treated as a legislative policy and, therefore, the Court,

in such a situation, should not issue any direction. He has drawn

inspiration from the authorities in Atlas Cycle Industries Ltd.

and others v. State of Haryana49, Common Cause v. Union of

India and others50, K.T. Plantation Private Limited and

49 (1979) 2 SCC 196
50 (2003) 8 SCC 250
401

another v. State of Karnataka51 and Accountant General,

State of Madhya Pradesh v. S.K. Dubey and another52. Learned

Solicitor General has also referred to Craies on Statute Law

Interpretation which has been noticed with approval in Hukum

Chand v. Union of India53 which speaks that there are three kinds

of laying, namely, (i) laying without further procedure; (ii) laying

subject to negative resolution; and (iii) laying subject to affirmative

resolution. Emphasizing on ―subject to affirmative resolution‖,

learned Solicitor General would contend that Section 6(7)

essentially commands that this Court should not issue a

mandamus to the executive to enact a particular law in a particular

manner at particular time or a stipulated time frame. He would

further urge that Section 6A is a complete code in itself and,

therefore, this Court should leave it to the discretion of the Central

Government.

361. In oppugnation to propositions put forth by the learned

Solicitor General, learned counsel for the other States and the

senior counsel for the Union Territory of Puducherry submitted

51 (2011) 9 SCC 1
52 (2012) 4 SCC 578
53 (1972) 2 SCC 601
402

that Section 6A does not confer any extraordinary power on the

Union of India except that it has the authority to frame a scheme

singularly for implementation of the award as passed by the

Tribunal or if modified by this Court. The further submission is

that the formulation of the scheme and other procedural ancillaries

do not confer any greater status on the authorities coming into

existence under the scheme.

X. Our findings on issues of allocation
X.1 Principles of apportionment to be followed:

362. Having dealt with the issues of paramountcy, perceived

unconscionability of the Agreements, continuation thereof after

coming into force of the 1956 Act as well as non-maintainability of

the dispute on the basis of such Agreements being in infraction of

Article 363, it is now essential at this juncture, in the backdrop of

the above contentious assertions, to dwell on the principles of

allocation of water of the inter-state Cauvery river and the make-up

thereof for uniform application. That apart, the fact of the

Agreement of 1924 having expired after 50 years in the year 1974

has been already determined. As rightly minuted by the Tribunal,

having regard to the progression of events after the execution of the
403

said Agreement, the accusations of breach and violations of the

Agreement have to be treated as inconsequential at this distant

point of time. Besides, there is no objective and judicially

manageable standard to examine and evaluate the same in a golden

scale or embark upon in an exercise of exactitude and precision to

weigh the impact thereof for determination of allocation of the

share.

363. As enunciated by this Court in In Re: Presidential Reference

(Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal) (supra), the waters of an

inter-State river passing through the corridors of the riparian States

constitute national asset and cannot be said to be located in any

one State. Being in a state of flow, no State can claim exclusive

ownership of such waters or assert a prescriptive right so as to

deprive the other States of their equitable share. It has been

propounded therein that the right to flowing water is well-settled to

be a right incident to property in the land and is a right publici juris

of such character, that while it is common and equal to all through

whose land it runs and no one can obstruct or divert it, yet as one

of the beneficial gifts of Nature, each beneficiary has a right to just

and reasonable use of it. We endorse the view of the Tribunal in the
404

attendant perspectives that the acknowledged principle of

distribution and allocation of waters between the riparian States

has to be done on the basis of their equitable share, however

contingent on the facts of each case.

364. For the sake of brevity, we do not intend to dilate anew on the

judicial precedents on this aspect of sharing of water of inter-state

river and the evolution and/or shift of the principles relatable

thereto from the ―Harmon Doctrine‖ to that of equitable

apportionment, a prescript internationally recognized and being

applied in resolution of disputes pertaining thereto. This principle of

equitable apportionment as is now intrinsically embedded generally

in a pursuit for apportionment of water of an international drainage

basin straddling over two or more States predicates that every

riparian State is entitled to a fair share of the water according to its

need, imbued with the philosophy that a river has been provided by

nature for the common benefit of the community as a whole

through whose territory it flows even though those territories may

be divided by frontiers as postulated in law. With reference, in

particular, to the Helsinki Rules of 1966, it has been expounded

hereinbefore that Articles IV and V thereof recognize equitable use
405

of water by each basin State, setting out the factors, not exhaustive

though, to be collectively taken into consideration as a whole. The

view that the principle of equality does not imply equal division of

water but connotes equal consideration and equal economic

opportunity of the co-basin States and that justice ought to be done

to them, has been emphasized in the course of the arguments. To

conceive that equality rests on equal sharing of water within an

arithmetical formula, would be fundamentally violative of the

established conception of equitable apportionment because the said

concept inheres a multiple factors. It is the obligation of the

Tribunal to address the same and the duty of this Court is to

adjudge within the permissible parameters of the justification of the

said adjudication. To reiterate, having regard to the above

propositions as well as the provisions of the 1956 Act, the

dissension has to be addressed in the backdrop of equal Status of

the States and the doctrine of equitability.

365. Though noticed in the passing hereinbefore, the prevalent

rules as guiding precepts to endeavour equitable apportionment of

waters of an international drainage basin and conceptually
406

extendable to an inter-state river deserve somewhat detailed

scrutiny.

366. There is no quarrel that the Helsinki Rules on the use of

waters of international rivers lack statutory status of binding

nature, yet the same, having been adopted by the International Law

Association in its Conference held at Helsinki in August, 1966, set

down the criteria to determine equitable utilization of waters of an

international drainage basin. As the relevant portion thereof has

been extracted before it is not necessary to reproduce the same.

However, suffice it to refer to the relevant clauses for the present

purpose. The statement in Article I that the general rules of

International Law, as contained in the Chapters comprising the

Rules, are applicable to the use of the waters of an international

drainage basin except as may be provided otherwise by convention,

agreement or binding custom among the basin States, attests the

non-statutory character thereof. Article II defines international

drainage basin to be a geographical area extending over two or more

states determined by the watershed limits of the system of waters,

including surface and underground waters, flowing into a common

terminus. The idea of international drainage basin per se inherits
407

some identifiable flexibility of the basin vis-a-vis the constituent

states, separated by watershed limits of the system of waters so

much so that in an exigent fact situation the basin need not be

rigorously confined to the area immediately abutting it in a given

state but depending on the situational topography may include

other areas of the state concerned entitled to the benefit of the

basin. The perception of ―basin state‖ as explicated in Article III is a

state, the territory of which includes a portion of an international

drainage basin and projects it to be a single synthesized territorial

component. As per Article IV, under Chapter II of the Rules, each

basin state is entitled, within its territory, to a reasonable and

equitable share in the beneficial uses of the waters of an

international drainage basin. Article V enumerates the relevant

factors, not exhaustive or limited thereto, to determine the

reasonable and equitable share within the meaning of Article IV.

These factors being unavoidably required to be extracted, are

quoted hereinbelow:-

―1. The geography of the basin, including in particular
the extent of the drainage area in the territory of each
basin state;

408

2. The hydrology of the basin, including in particular
the contribution of water by each basin state;

3. The climate affecting the basin;

4. The past utilization of the waters of the basin,
including in particular existing utilization;

5. The economic and social needs of each basin state;

6. The population dependent on the waters of the
basin in each basin state;

7. The comparative costs of alternative means of
satisfying the economic and social needs of each basin
state;

8. The availability of other resources;

9. The avoidance of unnecessary waste in the
utilization of waters of the basin;

10. The practicability of compensation to one or more of
the co-basin States as a means of adjusting conflicts
among uses; and

11. The degree to which the needs of a basin State may
be satisfied, without causing substantial injury to a co-
basin state.‖
[Emphasis supplied]

367. Article V explicates in clear terms that the weight to be given

to each factor as above is to be determined by its importance in

comparison with that of other relevant factors, but in determining

what is reasonable and equitable share, all relevant factors are to

be considered together and the conclusion has to be reached on the
409

basis of the whole. The above factors, although not exhaustive, have

been construed to be of significant bearing to ascertain the

reasonable and equitable share of waters in an international

drainage basin. The said principles can be regarded as functional

dynamics while equitable distributing the water in an inter-State

river disputes. The salient feature of all these factors has to have

inherent variability and inevitable flexibility thereof having regard to

the local conditions, for it is difficult to ignore the undeniable and

common emphasis necessary to ensure beneficial use of the

available resources for a basin state and logically for its dependent

populace warranted by the economic and social needs. Be it stated,

while determining the said needs, amongst others, past and existing

utilization of the water have to be borne in mind. To remain

oblivious to the same would amount to playing possum with the

doctrine of equitable distribution in praesenti. The noticeable

quintessence of the determinants is the predication for a delicate

balance in adjustments of the needs based on realistic, reasonable,

judicious and equitable canons so much so that while satisfying the

requirements of a basin state, a co-basin state is not subjected to

any substantial injury. Though in terms of Articles VI and VII, any
410

other category of users is not entitled to any inherent preference

over any other use or category of users, yet the precedence of an

existing reasonable use of a basin state over a proposed future use

of a co-basin state has been recognized. Significantly, in terms of

Article VIII, an existing reasonable use may continue in operation,

unless the factors justifying its continuance are outweighed by

other factors leading to the conclusion that it be modified or

terminated so as to accommodate a competing incompatible use

clearly signifying that an existing use is also not absolute in terms

and is subject to exigency based adjustments.

368. Substantially on the same lines is the Campione Consolidation

of ILA Rules on International Water Resources 1966-1999

(hereinafter to be referred to as the ―Campione Rules‖). The

distinguishing attribute of these Rules is the inclusion of water of

an aquifer, i.e., underground water or ―fossil waters‖ intercepted by

the boundary between the two or more states as international

ground water so much so that it would form an international basin

or part thereof qua the relevant factors to determine reasonable

equitable share. These Rules include the criterion of

interdependence of underground waters and other waters, including
411

any interconnections between aquifers and any leaching into

aquifers caused by activities in areas under the jurisdiction of the

basin states.

369. The next in line, before adverting to the National Water Policy

of 1987 and 2002, is another set of rules on international drainage

basin called the Berlin Rules adopted by the International Law

Association in its Berlin Conference in the year 2004. On the aspect

of equitable utilization, Article 12 thereof provides that basin states

would in their respective territories manage the waters of an

international drainage basin in an equitable and reasonable

manner, having due regard for the obligation not to cause

significant harm to other basin states and in particular, the basin

states, would develop and use the waters of the basin in order to

attain optimal and sustainable use thereof. The interest of the

other basin states are to be kept in view.

370. Article 13 of the Rules catalogues as well the relevant factors

to determine the equitable and reasonable use of a basin state.

While reiterating in essence the Rules as prescribed by the Helsinki

Rules, the additional aspect to be considered is minimization of
412

environmental harm. Article 14 of these Rules stipulates that in

determining an equitable and reasonable use, the states shall first

allocate waters to satisfy vital human needs and that no other use

or category of uses shall have an inherent preference over any other

use or category of uses. Article 17 postulates that every individual

has a right of access to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically

accessible and affordable water to meet his vital human needs and

it is the obligation of the States to ensure the implementation of

right of access to water on a non-discriminatory basis.

371. The common thread decipherable from these Rules is the

universal acknowledgment of the principle of equitable utilization as

an effective and workable tool for the management of waters of an

international drainage basin.

372. Presently, we shall refer to the National Water Policy which, in

our estimate, occupies an extremely significant space to spearhead

the planning and development of water resources. In its 1987

version, it sounded a threshold caveat that water is a prime natural

resource, a basic human need and a precious national asset. While

emphasizing that this resource is one of the most crucial elements
413

in development planning, the policy announced that it is a scarce

and precious national asset to be planned, developed and conserved

on an integrated environmentally sound basis, keeping in view the

needs of the States concerned. It underlined that resource planning

in the case of water has to be done for a hydrological unit such as

drainage basin as a whole or for a sub-basin and that all individual

developmental projects and proposals should be formulated by the

States and considered within the framework of such an overall plan

for a basin or sub-basin so that the best possible combination of

options can be made.

373. As is manifest from the policy, it enjoined that water should be

made available to water deficient areas by transfer from other areas

including transfers from one river basin to another based on

national perspectives after taking into account the requirements of

the areas/basins. That apart, making provision for drinking water

should be a primary consideration which was also highlighted. As

regards the ground water resources, it was marked that exploitation

thereof should be so regulated as not to exceed the recharging

possibilities as also to ensure social equity and to prevent ingress of

sea water into sweet water aquifers. In the realm of planning and
414

operation of systems, water allocation priorities were broadly

outlined as (a) drinking water, (b) irrigation, (c) hydropower, (d)

navigation and (e) industrial and other uses.

374. As far as the allocation is concerned, the uses are to be

governed by the rider that these priorities must be modified, if

necessary, in particular region with reference to area specific

considerations. In conclusion, the policy laid stress that in view of

vital importance of water for human and animal life, for maintaining

ecological balance and for economic and developmental activities of

all kinds and considering its increasing scarcity, the planning and

management of this resource and its optimal, economical and

equitable use has become a matter of utmost urgency. It

emphasized that the success of the National Water Policy would

depend entirely on the development and maintenance of a national

consensus and commitments to its underlying principles and

objectives. Significantly, the Policy, which is a national charter for

Planning and Development of Water Resources for its disciplined

and judicious utilization recognizes and accepts it to be scarce and

valuable bounty of nature to be developed, conserved and put to

planned use on an environmentally sound basis with due regard to
415

the needs of the State concerned. The Policy, thus, sustains the

concept of basin state as contemplated in the Helsinki Rules,

Campione Rules and Berlin Rules.

375. It is worthy to note that it significantly underlines that water

starved areas ought to be serviced by transfer from one river basin

to another based on national perspective after taking into account

the needs of such areas/basins. Drinking water has been assigned

the highest priority in the category of uses. Though use of ground

water resources has not been wholly debarred, yet regulated

exploitation thereof, not in excess of recharging possibilities, has

been highlighted.

376. The National Water Policy of 2002 which is a revised and

updated form of the earlier model, reiterates the emphasis on the

need for planning, development and management of the water

resources from the national stand point. Pertaining to water

allocation priorities, this Policy added to the list, in particular,

ecology and agro industries and non-agricultural industries,

qualifying that the priorities as enumerated could be modified or

added if warranted by the specific considerations of the
416

areas/regions. The primacy of drinking water was reiterated. On

the aspect of ground water development, it was stated that a

periodical re-assessment of the ground water potential on the

scientific basis should be made taking into consideration the quality

of water available and the economic viability of its extraction. Same

caution against over exploitation of ground water was sounded. It

was, inter alia, mandated that adequate safe drinking water facility

should be provided to the entire population, both in urban and in

rural areas, and irrigation and multipurpose projects should

invariably include in it drinking water component wherever there is

no alternative source of drinking water. It was clarified that

drinking water needs of human beings and animals should be the

first charge on any available water. Qua irrigation, the Policy stated

that planning either in an individual project or in a basin as a

whole should take into account the irrigability of land, cost effective

irrigation options possible from all available sources of water and

appropriate irrigation techniques for optimising water use

efficiency. The aspect that the irrigation intensity should be such

as to extend the benefits of irrigation to a large number of farm

families as much as possible, keeping in view the need to maximize
417

production, was also underlined. It was most importantly provided

that water sharing/distribution amongst the States should be

guided by national perspective with due regard to the availability of

water resources and the needs within the river basin. The Policy,

therefore, did not bar as such the sharing or allocation of water in

areas within the basin state. In conclusion, the Policy recorded that

its success would depend entirely on evolving and maintaining

national consensus and commitment to its underlying principles

and objectives. It also laid emphasis on the needs of the community

that requires to be taken into account for the development and

management water resources.

377. The national policies of the country as above, therefore,

evidently supplement and consolidate the prescriptions of the

Helsinki Rules, Campione Rules and Berlin Rules in the matter of

ascertainment of reasonable and equitable share of water in an

inter-state river. To reiterate, the Helsinki Rules and the other

Rules envisage a basin state on the issue of equitable

apportionment of an inter-State river. Though the Rules predicate

that in determining the share of one basin state, the other co-basin

states would not be subjected to substantial injury, yet the clear
418

emphasis is to fulfill the economic and social needs of the

population of the State and in the sphere of irrigation, its farmer

community. Indubitably, the principle of apportionment would

apply uniformly to all river basins in a State. The sharing of an

inter-state river, as the professed norms of distribution suggest, has

to be with the spirit of harmonious disposition and equanimous

dispensation. The norms or the factors suggested, understandably,

can never be exhaustive and designed only a balanced framework of

pragmatic measures to ensure beneficial use of water resources in

an inter-State river on need-based application thereof and

reciprocal adjustments for common good. In the regime of a welfare

state wedded to the guarantees enshrined in the National Charter,

any yardstick for distribution of any national asset like water would

have to be essentially in furtherance thereof. The criteria identified

in the Rules and supplemented by the national policies in letter and

spirit, though in quite detail, can only be construed as illustrative

and cannot be perceived as a strait-jacket formula or put in a

compartment of mathematical exactitude to exclude any other

consideration or exigency to effect a desirable apportionment of

water of an inter-state river depending on the prevalent
419

eventualities. Having regard to the geographic, hydrographic,

hydrological, hydrogeological, climatic, ecological and other fluvial

phenomena attendant on time, the spectrum of priorities and the

factors associated therewith are bound to vary. Be it clearly stated

that while no precise formula can be adopted, there has to be a

sincere and pragmatic endeavour to have a rational amalgam of

globally accepted norms and the local necessities founded on the

doctrine of fairness and equity. The factors already enumerated,

needless to say, may inter se demand precedence of one over the

other depending on the ground realities, the ultimate test being to

ensure that the allocations on the basis thereof in favour of one

basin State ought not to be substantially detrimental to the

co-basin States. The order of precedence in the areas of necessity,

as set out in the National Policy, is not incompatible with the

acknowledged determinants for ascertaining the reasonable and

equitable share of an inter-State river. Nevertheless, the weightage

of one item of need would depend in a given situation on the degree

and priority thereof thereby necessitating grant of preference of one

over the other in departure of the sequence set out in the policy.

This again is to underline the attribute of variability in the approach
420

of application of the otherwise identified criteria, the ultimate goal

being equitable apportionment of the resources. This concept gains

more significance where the resource is scarce and inadequate qua

the demand thereof. It is warrantable as the dispute involves the

inhabitants of one State with the inhabitants of another State. Such

involvement by statutory command engulfs the principle of

obtaining situational adjustment having due regard to priority. In

the above predominant conspectus, in our estimate, the factors as

set out in the Helsinki Rules and endorsed as well as supplemented

by the Campione Rules and the Berlin Rules and further

consolidated by our national policies as above are efficient, rational,

objective and pragmatic guidelines to conduct any exercise for

determining the reasonable and equitable share of basin States in

the water of an inter-state river like Cauvery as in the present case.

378. With these guidelines at disposal, the endeavour has to be

essentially to ensure an appropriate balance of the genuine

competing demands and interests of the basin States. The

balancing has to be done in a pragmatic and feasible manner so

that it will be ultimately functional and meet the aspirations of the

riparian States. In such a working process, there has to be
421

adjustment of the available resources. That apart, the process

indeed has to be informed with egalitarian vision for achieving

utilitarian ends keeping in view the inclusive spirit and the

pluralistic ethos. Thus viewed and understood, periodical reviews to

update the allocations merited by changes in the aforementioned

natural and environmental phenomena bearing on the resources for

supply and resultant reorientation of the inter se needs of the basin

States, would have to be unfailingly undertaken on time.

379. It needs to be stated that the gravamen of the rival assertions

span from wrong application of the principles of equitable

apportionment to the facts of the case, defective assessment of the

materials on record bearing on the requirements registered by the

competing States, faulty approach in the matter of evaluation of the

parameters bearing in particular on the crop water requirement,

ground water availability and use and unmerited rejection of

various projects as testimony of rightful claims to resultant

inaccurate allocation of the water of the inter-state river involved.

As detailed hereinbefore, the impugned decision of the Tribunal

would demonstrate that it had undertaken a detailed exercise on

the basis of the pleadings of the parties, the evidence, oral and
422

documentary, including several contemporary official records and

statistics supplemented by the testimony of various acclaimed

experts in the field of water research and use over the years. Having

regard to the jurisdiction being exercised, we would, in this factual

backdrop, test the competing contentions on the basis of broad

features of the controversy and the established legal postulates

applicable thereto and interfere in the event of any discernible

vitiating infirmity, incurably afflicting the adjudicative pursuit of the

Tribunal thereby rendering its appraisal of the materials on record

on any issue as well as the final determination to be patently

unsustainable.

X.2 Determination of „irrigated areas” in Tamil Nadu and
Karnataka:

380. As we notice, the Tribunal, after adopting the principle of

equitable apportionment, in the process of computing the

reasonable and equitable shares of the basin States as the first

initiative, determined the irrigated areas of the States and in doing

so, noted from the report of the Cauvery Fact Finding Committee

submitted in the year 1972 that the utilization of waters of Tamil

Nadu including Karaikal region of the Union Territory of
423

Puducherry, Mysore and Kerala had been 566.60 TMC, 176.82 TMC

and 5 TMC respectively. As the background of the Agreements of

1892 and 1924 would reveal, the State of Karnataka had been

raising persistent protests against the restraints put on it on the

use of the waters of the river for which it alleged that it was not

possible on its part to irrigate lands even as envisaged in the

Agreement of 1924. This was clearly by way of its remonstrance

against Tamil Nadu‘s endeavours to wrest its dominion over the

water by exercising its prescriptive right to the natural flow thereof

within its territories. Noticeably, the principle of equitable

apportionment, as has evolved over the time, has not been and

rightly not disputed by the party-States as the yardstick for the

allocation in praesenti. In view of the fact that river Cauvery is

deficit in its water content compared to the demands of the riparian

States involved, restrictions and savings in the matter of use thereof

are not only necessary but also natural corollaries. In that view of

the matter, it is incumbent to identify the areas under irrigation

with the expansion thereof with time, together with the crop pattern

and the suitability thereof, having regard to the extent of utilization

of the deficient surface flow available. On the basis of the reports of
424

the various Committees and the recorded data referred to

hereinabove, the bearing of the 1924 Agreement in particular over

the march of events cannot also be totally disregarded. The

Tribunal, after taking into account all these factors, vis-a-vis Tamil

Nadu, applied the restrictions to work out the irrigated area to

which it would be entitled to assert its share of allocation, namely,

no area for summer paddy; area of summer paddy raised prior to

1924 to be replaced by semi-dry crop; annual intensity of irrigation

to be restricted to 100%; cropping period to be restricted within the

irrigated season, i.e., 31st June to 31st January and ambitious lift

irrigation schemes to be discouraged. It, thus, quantified such area

for Tamil Nadu to be 24.71 lakh acres against its claim of 29.26

lakh acres. As far as Karnataka is concerned, the Tribunal noticed

that in the pre 1924 Agreement era, irrigation in the then State of

Mysore was primarily from direct diversion channels from the rivers

together with the system of tank irrigation and that in the absence

of any reservoir, the waters of Cauvery and its tributaries like

Kabini, Hemawathi, Harangi and Suvaranwathi used to flow

through the State but their ultimate destination was the Delta State

of the then State of Madras as a result whereof, even as admitted by
425

the State of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka could develop only 3.14 lakh

acres of land by 1924. This inability of the State of Karnataka to

develop its land for irrigation in the background of its persistent

cavil of being deprived of its legitimate share and use of the water of

Cauvery cannot be ignored. It is a recorded fact that though under

the 1924 Agreement, Karnataka in terms of the relevant provisions

thereof ought to have developed 7.45 lakh acres by 1974, it could

achieve only 2.15 lakh acres. However, the Tribunal in all allowed

18.85 lakh acres of area to Karnataka being under irrigation prior

to 1974 against its claim of 20.98 lakh acres. In case of Karnataka

as well, the Tribunal excluded the development of second crop in

view of the scarcity of water in the basin with due regard to the

rainfall pattern and even suggested restrictions on the crop variety

and the duration thereof. On an overall consideration of the

relevant materials to which our attention has been drawn, we are of

the view that having regard to the imperative of economy of

consumption of water, the approach of the Tribunal cannot be

found fault with having regard to the exiting situation
426

X.3 Assessment of water for “irrigation needs” in Tamil Nadu
and Karnataka:

381. We may analyse the present demand qua the assessment of

crop water requirement of the basin states, the relevant information

of which had been furnished by them in common format

supplemented by the oral testimony of experts and documentary

evidence. They registered their demand for allocation as

hereinbelow:

Tamil Nadu – 566 TMC
Karnataka – 466 TMC
Kerala – 100 TMC
Union Territory of Pondicherry – 9 TMC
The Tribunal, to reiterate, to ensure equitable share to each

State, applied the following criteria:

(i) Double crop only over areas before the Agreement of
the year 1924 and as permitted under the said
Agreement and not beyond.

(ii) Summer crop restricted in some areas where it was
grown prior to 1924 Agreement which ought to be
replaced by any light irrigated crop within the
irrigation season.

(iii) Delta to be reduced in view of new variety of paddy
and developed techniques which require lesser Delta
of water.

     (iv)    No transbasin diversion.
427

(v) No lift schemes.

382. As the records reveal, after the evidence of the expert

witnesses was recorded, as required by the Tribunal, the States

filed their affidavits furnishing details of water requirements as well

as the crops grown by them together with an indication of a

minimum crop water requirement. The affidavit filed on behalf of

Tamil Nadu was marked as Ext. TN1665 and that of Karnataka as

Ext. KAR518. Hence, we shall analyse the ultimate determination

by the Tribunal and scrutinize its ultimate justification. As has

been noted earlier, there has been a considerable dispute over

Ext.1665 and the area of dispute relates to the violation of the

principles of natural justice, non-providing of opportunity of cross-

examination, admissibility of the affidavit in evidence and, above

all, the transgression of the sense of propriety by the State of Tamil

Nadu. We have already stated that what had already been available

on record can be considered from the factual assertions of the

affidavit. Be that as it may, there has to be an adjudication by this

Court and not allow the main protagonist States to keep the fight in

continuance. The Tribunal, as is demonstrable, on the basis of the
428

overall materials before it, took note, amongst others, of the crop

pattern, duration of the crops, consumption of water thereby, soil

conditions conducive thereto, rainfall pattern, Delta and system

efficiency along with the drought conditions of Karnataka as

projected by it, in conjunction with the testimony of the expert

witnesses of both the States of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, and in

the interest of economical use of the water of the deficit basin,

allocated 250.62 TMC to Karnataka for its irrigated area of 18.85

lakh acres and 390.85 TMC to Tamil Nadu for its irrigated area of

24.71 lakh acres. Significantly, it is worthwhile to notice, in this

context, the recommendations of the Cauvery Fact Finding

Committee required restriction on double crop paddy area;

introduction of short duration variety in place of ―Samba‖ crop and

preference to crops needing less water. Further, the Tribunal has

considered the crop water requirement, namely, crop duration, ET

crop, puddling requirements, percolation losses, effective rainfall

and system efficiency. Keeping in view the accepted principles, we

find that neither the analysis undertaken by the Tribunal nor the

findings relatable thereto can be regarded as implausible by any

standard. Certain parameters have been exhaustively examined by
429

the Tribunal on the basis of the materials brought on record with

supporting reasons and, therefore, the conclusion on this score

cannot be termed as untenable warranting interference in the

exercise of this Court's jurisdiction under Article 136 of the

Constitution of India. We may pause here to clarify. In our first

verdict that pertained to the delineation of the maintainability of

appeals by special leave while holding the appeals to be

maintainable, we had kept it open for advertence at a later stage the

issue whether there should be broad approach or a narrow one.

After hearing all the sides at length, at this juncture, we are

inclined to say that while adjudicating a matter of such a nature we

cannot be totally guided exclusively either by ―broad‖ or

extraordinary discretionary or ―narrow‖ or restrictive approach but

think it appropriate to have an intermediary approach as the

controversy covers a span of more than 100 years involving change

in boundaries, population growth and subsequent events. We may

hasten to add that though the parameters of applicability of Article

136 can be broad to appreciate the materials and scrutinize the

manner of appreciation by the Court/Tribunal depending upon the

lis raised. In the present appeals preferred by special leave, we
430

think it condign to adopt an approach which is neither broad nor

narrow but an ―intermediary one‖, especially having regard to the

nature of the dispute that involves the inhabitants of three States

and a Union Territory.

383. In the realm of determination of irrigated area, the assessment

by the Tribunal, as we find, encapsules the factual and

characteristically complex situation. Lands have already been

irrigated. It is an issue of sustenance at the ground reality level. To

reduce the allocation of water on this core would be inequitable.

Therefore, in the obtaining fact situation, in our comprehension, no

interference is warranted. That apart, having regard to the degree of

wiredrawn complexities involved, requiring in-depth expertise to

dislodge the otherwise well-reasoned findings of the Tribunal

founded on an exhaustive appreciation of the materials on record,

we are not inclined to upset the determination made by it in this

regard. On an overall scrutiny of the materials to which our

attention had been drawn, we are in general agreement with the

approach and assessment made by the Tribunal and the deductions

made by it on the basis thereof. Sans rhetoric and emotionally

appealing submissions, we find that the rival contentions are
431

equally balanced and to reiterate, on an overall consideration of the

materials on record, we do not feel persuaded to differ with the

Tribunal's adjudication.

X.4 Water allocation for the State of Kerala:

384. In respect of the claim of Kerala, it is a matter of record that

rainfall is evenly distributed over the months of May to November so

much so that occasional support by artificial irrigation is required

in the instances of shortfall in rains and that too during small

periods. Against its demand of 99.8 TMC under different heads, it

had demanded 35 TMC for transbasin diversion to generate hydro-

electrical power. The Tribunal rejected the State's request for

transbasin diversion for hydro-power projects which, in terms of the

National Water Policy of 2002, was even otherwise lower in

preference to drinking water and irrigation. The Tribunal in

adjudging the State's share did notice that it had been unsuccessful

in furthering its projects so much so that pending the completion

and utilization thereof, the unutilized water allocated to it subject to

the mechanism set up by the Cauvery Management
432

Board/Regulatory Authority, would be received by Tamil Nadu. The

Tribunal examined the information furnished by it in the common

format and adjudged 29.76 TMC which was rounded upto 30 TMC

as its share after due regard to its demand, amongst others,

pertaining to different projects in Kabani, Bhavani, and Pambar

basins having regard to their individual features and corresponding

crop water requirement. This allocation included the share for

domestic and industrial water purposes as well with the population

projection for 2011. The findings of the Tribunal are not belied by

the materials in support thereof and, therefore, we are inclined to

accept the same.

X.5 Water allocation for the Union Territory of Puducherry:

385. With regard to the claim of Union Territory of Puducherry for

Karaikal region, it is a matter of record that because of its close

proximity to the sea, the ground water by its nature is unsuitable

for drinking and irrigation purposes and, thus, the Tribunal having

regard to its irrigated area of 43000 acres allowed its second crop in

departure from the yardstick applied for Karnataka and Tamil Nadu

and granted 6.35 TMC by way of crop water requirement. It also
433

relieved the Union Territory of the application of 20% consumptive

utility formula while assessing its domestic and industrial water

requirements. In the absence of any convincing reason to determine

otherwise, the adjudication of the Tribunal on this count does not

deserve any interference.

X.6 Recognition of ground water as an additional source in
Tamil Nadu:

386. While exploring the possibility of ground water as an

additional source to be conjunctively used along with the surface

flow of river Cauvery, the factual matrix reveals, based on empirical

data, that the contributions thereto are from surface water through

infiltration into the ground by way of natural recharge, stream flow,

lakes and reservoirs. The recharge of ground water is principally

from rainfall as well as artificial modes, namely, application of water

to irrigate crops, flooding of areas caused by overflowing of streams

to their sites and seepage from unlined canals, tanks and other

sources. Ground water, as the study by the Central Ground Water

Board, Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India attests,

caters to more than 45% of irrigation in the country. As against the

stand of Tamil Nadu that the ground water within its Delta areas is
434

mainly by way of recharge from the supplies of Mettur Dam which

really is a component of the surface flow of river Cauvery and

further that the same is utilized by the farmers for raising of early

nurseries ahead of releases from Mettur and for irrigating belated

crops after stoppage of Mettur releases, exhaustive studies

undertaken, amongst others, by the Central Ground Water Board,

Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India, Irrigation

Commission, 1972 and United Nations Development Programme

evidenced availability of replenishable ground water in Tamil Nadu.

The United Nations Development Programme in its report, amongst

others, mentioned that yearly quantity of ground water that can be

extracted by using centrifugal pumps in the Cauvery sub-basin,

Vennar sub-basin and in the new Delta was 33.7 TMC, 5.4 TMC

and 32.5 TMC respectively and in addition 56.5 TMC of ground

water per year can also be made available in the Cauvery sub-basin

by lowering seasonally ground water level to 10 meters depth below

the regional ground water level. Other studies made by the team of

the Central Ground Water Board indicated ground water potential

in the Delta area of Tamil Nadu to the extent of 64 TMC. The report

of Mr. W. Berber, Consultant, World Bank on Ground Water
435

Resources of Cauvery Delta estimated the available ground water in

Cauvery Delta at 51.56 TMC. Apart from the above, Tamil Nadu, in

its pleadings, admitted that the total ground water extraction

during the year 1989 was approximately 28.4 TMC in the Cauvery

sub-basin, 7.3 TMC in the Vennar sub-basin and 11.3 TMC in the

Grand Anicut Canal area (new Delta area) totaling 47 TMC. Tamil

Nadu, in its pleadings, also mentioned that in the old Delta, there

was a scope of conjunctive use of ground water to the extent of 30

TMC. On the basis of these recorded and empirical inputs, the

Tribunal returned a finding that in a normal year when there would

be regular releases of water from Mettur, the bulk of contribution to

ground water in the Cauvery sub-basin would be from such

releases, but in any case, the contribution from surface irrigation

and rainfall could by no means be overlooked. On weighing the pros

and cons and having regard to the severe limitations in the

mechanism for assessment of ground water resource, the Tribunal

made an extremely safe estimate of 20 TMC of ground water which,

in its view, could be used by Tamil Nadu conjunctively with surface

water. In categorical terms, the Tribunal clarified that this quantum

was arrived at after excluding the component of ground water
436

recharge from river water bilateral infiltration. In other words, the

Tribunal estimated 20 TMC of ground water available in the State of

Tamil Nadu which was independent of any contribution from the

surface flow of the river Cauvery and, thus, could be construed to

be a stock available with it unconnected with the yield of 740 TMC

otherwise quantified for allocation. It is in this context that the

assertion made on behalf of Karnataka that ground water being a

renewable resource, if not extracted regularly, would reduce the

absorption capacity of the underlying aquifer resulting in rain

water/surface water turning into wastage as run-off and that the

admission of Tamil Nadu in its pleadings of availability of 30/47

TMC as ground water warranted reduction of at least 20 TMC, as

estimated by the Tribunal, from the final allocated share of Tamil

Nadu with proportionate reduction in the quantum of water to be

provided by Karnataka at the inter-state border, assumes

significance. In our view, having regard to the overwhelming

empirical data following multiple research studies by different

authorities authenticating beyond doubt availability of

replenishable ground water in the Delta areas of Tamil Nadu, 20

TMC of ground water quantified by the Tribunal is an eminently
437

safe quantity to be accounted for in finally allocating/apportioning

the share of Cauvery water. While expressing this view, we are not

unmindful of the stand of Tamil Nadu and the aspect that over-

extraction of ground water in the absence of adequate

replenishment and further in the areas proximate to the coastal

zone is generally avoidable. However, in the attendant facts and

circumstances, in view of the studied scrutiny of all pertinent facets

of the issue by balancing all factors, we are of the unhesitant

opinion that at least 10 TMC of ground water available in the Delta

areas of Tamil Nadu can be accounted for in finally determining the

apportionment of the share of the otherwise deficit Cauvery basin

without touching the yield of 740 TMC.

387. To recall, the national policies discussed above, do not, as

such, debar the conjunctive use of ground water, the only caveat

being periodical assessment on a scientific basis thereof and to

guard against exploitation of the said resource so as not to exceed

the recharging possibilities. The series of research studies made by

different authorities and the range of availability of ground water as

indicated by the experimental data, in our view, not only

demonstrate availability of ground water in the Deltas in the State
438

of Tamil Nadu but also that adjustment of 10 TMC thereof, as

proposed, would be safely permissible. Noticeably, the kind of

experiment and research that had been made in the realm of

ground water availability in the Deltas of Tamil Nadu has not been

undertaken in Karnataka and there is no reliable empirical data

with regard thereto vis-a-vis that State.

X.7 Water allocation for Domestic and Industrial purposes in
Tamil Nadu:

388. With regard to the computation and allotment of water for

domestic and industrial purposes in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, we

are in agreement with the formulae noted and applied by the

Tribunal in working out the per capita daily requirements of the

urban and rural population. There is also no reason to differ from

the postulation with regard to the percentage of actual utilization

qua various heads of uses, namely, irrigation, power, domestic and

municipal water supply, industrial use, etc., as referred to in the

Report of the Cauvery Fact Finding Committee which, for our

immediate purposes, indicate that whereas 20% of the quantity of

water supplied would be actually consumed in domestic use, only

2.5% would be effectively utilized for industrial use within the basin
439

and the rest would return to the source, i.e., river or its tributaries

or the reservoir, storage and canal, as the case may be.

X.8 Water allocation for Domestic and Industrial purposes of
State of Karnataka:

389. As regards the grievance of the State of Karnataka that while

quantifying the allocation of water for domestic purposes, the

Tribunal had accounted for only 1/3rd of the city of Bengaluru to be

falling within the river basin and had, as a result, drastically cut

down its overall share under this head. It is significant to notice

that in its statement of case, Karnataka had registered its claim for

water for domestic and industrial uses as hereunder:-

Bangalore water supply – 30 TMC
Urban water supply (other than Bangalore) – 10 TMC
Rural water supply – 6 TMC
Industrial uses – 4 TMC

This along with its claim for irrigation - 408 TMC and for

power projects (reservoir losses 6 TMC and Thermal Power Project -

1 TMC) – totals to 465 TMC. Karnataka, therefore, registered a

claim of 30 TMC only for the city of Bengaluru. The Tribunal, at the
440

first instance, presumed that 50% of drinking water requirement

would be met from the ground water sources as it is generally seen

that wells and tube-wells in urban and rural areas cater to

substantial requirement of drinking water. While noting that it had

called for information in the common format whereby the States

had been required to project their population for the year 2000 and

2025 for working out drinking water requirement, the Tribunal,

however, decided to assess the drinking water requirement as in the

year 2011. On the basis of the information available, it held that

only 1/3rd of the Bengaluru city lay within the Cauvery basin as

was urged in the course of the arguments. It, therefore, limited its

consideration of drinking water requirement of Bengaluru to that

area only which was located within the Cauvery basin. It noticed

that Karnataka had stated that the existing and ongoing drinking

water schemes for the city were for 14.52 TMC in all as in June

1990 and also that it had claimed 30 TMC for Bengaluru city in its

projection for 2025. The Tribunal, as is perceptible, was disposed to

work out the water requirement for urban and rural population on

the basis of population projection of the basin for the year 2011 by

adopting the percentage decennial growth for the year 1981-1991
441

census, district-wise and the area of each district falling within the

Cauvery basin as furnished by Karnataka. The population

projection of Bengaluru city on the Census Report of 2011, as

furnished by Tamil Nadu, was taken note of as well. The Tribunal

next quantified the water requirement of urban population to be

8.70 TMC and for rural population at 8.52 TMC. The Tribunal, as a

consequence, proceeded to quantify the total drinking water

requirement for urban and rural population to be 17.22 TMC (8.70

TMC + 8.52 TMC). It next assumed that 50% of the drinking water

requirement would be met from ground water and the remaining

50% from the surface water. Thus, segregating 8.75 TMC to be

catered to by the surface water, it worked out the consumptive use,

i.e., 20% of the total for the human population including live stock

to be 1.75 TMC (20% of 8.75 TMC).

390. Apart from the fact that there is no basis whatsoever for the

Tribunal for having quantified the water requirement for urban

population to be 8.70 TMC as well as for rural population to be 8.52

TMC, its assumption that 50% thereof would be met from ground

water only in view of its perception that wells and tube-wells in

urban and rural areas cater to the substantial requirement of
442

drinking water, in our view, is unacceptable and cannot be

sustained. That apart, in the context of Bengaluru city, especially in

view of the growth and rise of population in space and time, the

Tribunal‘s approach of confining the entitlement of its population in

general to only 1/3rd of their requirement only in view of the

location of 1/3rd of its physical entity within the Cauvery basin

demands scrutiny. True it is, the concept of a basin and the

beneficial uses of the water thereof ought to be traced generally to

the sites and population thereof located in the basin, nevertheless,

the principles of apportionment and the conception of reasonable

and equitable share perceived for such uses comprehend a basin

State addressing the social and economic needs of its community as

a whole. Territorial or geographical demarcation for extension of

beneficial uses of an inter-state river basin cannot always be strictly

construed. We are inclined to think so as the perception of a basin

State inheres in it a degree of flexibility in approach in a unique fact

situation to justify a warrantable flexibility and departure from such

rigoristic approach. We are disposed to think so, for the city of

Bengaluru, as an evident phenomenon, has burgeoned over the

years and has grown today into a progressively sophisticated,
443

sprawling, vibrant and a much aspired seat of intellectual

excellence particularly in information technology and commercial

flourish. It has transformed into a nerve centre of contemporaneous

significance and its population is daily on the rise, thus, registering

an ever enhancing demand for all civic amenities. Having regard to

its exclusive attributes, it is incomparable in many ways not only to

other urban areas in the State, but also beyond. The requirements

of its dependent population as a whole for drinking and other

domestic purposes, therefore, cannot justifiably, in the prevailing

circumstances, be truncated to their prejudice only for

consideration of its physical location in the context of the river

basin. We think so since the city of Bengaluru cannot be segregated

having an extricable composition and integrated whole for the

purposes of the requirements of its inhabitants, more particularly

when the same relates to allocation of water for domestic purposes

to meet their daily errands. It will be inconceivable to have an

artificial boundary and deny the population the primary need of

drinking water. We hold so in the special features of the case

keeping in view the global status the city has attained and further
444

appreciating the doctrine of equitable proportionality on the

bedrock of pressing human needs.

391. At this juncture, we need to recount that as per the national

water policies, not only drinking water has been placed at the top of

the other requirements in the order of priority, but it has also been

predicated that adequate drinking water facilitates should be

provided to the entire population, both in urban and rural areas

and that drinking water should be made a primary consideration. It

was declared as well that drinking water needs of human beings

and animals should be the first charge on any available water.

Article 14 of the Berlin Rules also mandates that in determining an

equitable and reasonable use, the States shall first allocate water to

satisfy vital human needs.

392. In view of the above, we are constrained to observe that the

approach of the Tribunal cannot be approved in the facts and

circumstances indicated hereinabove. We are, thus, of the

considered opinion that the allocation of water for drinking and

domestic purposes for the entire city of Bengaluru has to be

accounted for. Noticeably, Karnataka had claimed 14.52 TMC, i.e.,
445

6.52 TMC for existing water schemes for Bengaluru and 8.00 TMC

for the ongoing drinking water schemes for the city as in June,

1990. It had demanded 30 TMC as drinking water requirement for

the city with the projection of 2025. Having regard to the percentage

of decennial growth, as has been adopted by the Tribunal, in 2011,

the demand of Karnataka for drinking water requirement for

Bengaluru city would be in the vicinity of 24 TMC. Even excluding

the computation for urban population of the State to be 8.70 TMC

as arrived at by the Tribunal and that too without any basis and

accepting the water requirement of rural population to be 8.52 TMC

though also without any basis, the total figure representing

drinking and domestic water requirement of the urban and rural

population would be 32.5 TMC rounded upto 33 TMC in

comparison to 46 TMC as claimed by Karnataka in its statement.

Having rejected the assumption that 50% of the drinking water

requirement would be met from ground water, this 33 TMC would,

in our estimate, be a safe and acceptable figure qua drinking and

domestic water requirement of the State of Karnataka for its urban

and rural population. By applying the consumptive percentage of

20%, the volume of water to be allocated to Karnataka on this count
446

would be 6.5 TMC in lieu of 1.75 awarded by the Tribunal, i.e., an

increase by 4.75 TMC.

393. Qua the view against transbasin diversion, suffice it to state

that not only in the context of Bengaluru city, for the reasons cited

hereinabove, a digression from the confines of the concept of in-

river basin would be justified, since the National Water Policy of

1987, in categorical terms, enjoined that water should be made

available to water short areas by transfer from other areas including

transfers from one river basin to another. This very conspicuously

emphasizes on an inclusive comprehension and in a deserving case

like Bengaluru city, it would not be incompatible with the letter and

spirit of the factors that ought to inform the determination of

reasonable and equitable share of water in an interstate river as

well as of the national policies formulated for planning and

development of the precious natural resource involved.

X.9 Allocation of water towards environmental protection:

394. On the aspect of allocation qua environmental protection, the

Tribunal, in order to secure the purity of environmental and

ecological regime in view of the injudicious use of available
447

resources by human beings compounded by population explosion

and distorted lifestyles and having regard to the spectre of river

water pollution on account of industrial development and

deforestation leading to siltation of reservoirs, etc., assigned 10

TMC to be reserved from the common pool to meet the

environmental aspects.

395. We appreciate the endeavour and the initiative of the Tribunal

having regard to the sustenance of purity of environment to which

every individual is entitled and also simultaneously obliged to

contribute to cultivate the feeling of environmental morality. That

is the constant need of the present. In view of such an obtaining

situation, we are not inclined to interfere in any manner in the

allocation of the quantum of 10 TMC towards environmental

protection. It stands affirmed.

X.10 Revised water allocation amongst competing States:

396. The river Cauvery originates in Karnataka and eventually after

its full flow through the other riparian States of the basin

assimilates in the Bay of Bengal. With the evolution of the principle

of equitable apportionment which is really to ensure equal justice to
448

the basin States, the concept of prescriptive right or right to the

natural flow of any inter-state river has ceased to exist. Having

regard to the historical facts which demonstrate the constraints

suffered by Karnataka resulting in its limited access and use of the

surface flow of Cauvery in spite of being the upper riparian state,

compared to Tamil Nadu, then Madras presidency, as well as

severally drought conditions in its 28 districts/taluks, we are

inclined to award an additional quantity of water to it in the

measure of 14.75 TMC in all, i.e., 10 TMC (on account of

availability of ground water in Tamil Nadu) + 4.75 TMC (for drinking

and domestic purposes including such need for the whole city of

Bengaluru). On these considerations, we consider Karnataka to be

more deserving amongst the competing States to be entitled thereto.

Out of this, 14.75 TMC would be deducted from the quantum

allocated by the Tribunal in favour of Tamil Nadu. In other words,

the final allocation of the shares in view of this determination would

be as hereunder:-

          Karnataka                    :   284.75 (270 + 14.75) TMC
Tamil Nadu : 404.25 (419 – 14.75) TMC
Kerala : 30 TMC
449

UT of Pondicherry : 7 TMC
Environmental Protection : 10 TMC
Inevitable escapagaes into sea : 4 TMC
Total : 740 TMC

397. As a consequence of the aforesaid allocation, the State of

Karnataka would now be required to make available at the

interstate border with Tamil Nadu, i.e., at Billigundulu, 177.25

TMC of water for the basin. Apart from the modifications

effected hereinabove, no interference with the determination and

findings recorded by the Tribunal, in view of the scrutiny of the

available materials on record, is called for.

398. At this stage, we may reproduce how the Tribunal has dealt

with monthly deliveries by the State of Karnataka which is as

follows:-

―Since the major shareholders in the Cauvery waters are
the States of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, we order the
tentative monthly deliveries during a normal year to be
made available by the State of Karnataka at the inter-
State contact point presently identified as Billigundulu
gauge and discharge station located on the common
border as under:

            Month          TMC      Month             TMC
June 10 December 8
450

July 34 January 3
August 50 February 2.5
September 40 March 2.5
October 22 April 2.5
November 15 May 2.5
192 TMC

The above quantum of 192 TMC of water comprises of
182 TMC from the allocated share of Tamil Nadu and 10
TMC of water allocated for environmental purposes.‖

399. The Tribunal directed appointment of a Regulatory Authority

to properly monitor the working of monthly schedule with the help

of the concerned States and Central Water Commission and further

directed that the upper riparian State shall not take any action so

as to affect the scheduled deliveries of water to the lower riparian

States. The other directions which had been issued by the Tribunal,

we think it appropriate to reproduce, are as under:-

“Clause-XIV

Use of water shall be measured by the extent of its
depletion of the waters of the river Cauvery including its
tributaries in any manner whatsoever; the depletion
would also include the evaporation losses from the
reservoirs. The storage in any reservoir across any
stream of the Cauvery river system except the annual
evaporation losses shall form part of the available water.
The water diverted from any reservoir by a State for its
451

own use during any water year shall be reckoned as use
by that State in that water year.

Clause-XV
In any riparian State or U.T. of Pondicherry is not able to
make use of any portion of its allocated share during any
month in a particular water year and requests for its
storage in the designated reservoirs, it shall be at liberty
to make use of its unutilized share in any other
subsequent month during the same water year provided
this arrangement is approved by the implementing
Authority.

Clause-XVI

Inability of any State to make use of some portion of the
water allocated to it during any water year shall not
constitute forfeiture or abandonment of its share of
water in any subsequent water year nor shall it increase
the share of other State in the subsequent year if such
State has used that water.

          x          x          x          x          x          x

Clause XVIII

Nothing in the order of this Tribunal shall impair the
right or power or authority of any State to regulate
within its boundaries the use of water, or to enjoy the
benefit of waters within that State in a manner not
inconsistent with the order of this Tribunal.‖

400. In view of the reduction in the quantum of water, now required

to be released by Karnataka at the inter-State border with Tamil

Nadu, i.e., at Billigundulu, there would be, logically, a proportionate
452

decrease in the monthly releases as worked out by the Tribunal.

However, the same pattern therefor, as modeled by it would be

maintained for the reduced releases.

Y. Interpretation of Section 6A of the 1956 Act

401. Now we shall deal with the provisions of Section 6A of 1956

Act. It reads as under:-

“Section 6A. Power to make schemes to implement
decision of Tribunal.

(1) Without prejudice to the provisions of section 6, the
Central Government may, by notification in the Official
Gazette, frame a scheme or schemes whereby provision
may be made for all matters necessary to give effect to
the decision of a Tribunal.

(2) A scheme framed under sub- section (1) may provide
for--

(a) the establishment of any authority (whether described
as such or as a committee or other body) for the
implementation of the decision or directions of the
Tribunal;

(b) the composition, jurisdiction, powers and functions of
the authority, the term of office and other conditions of
service of, the procedure to be followed by, and the
manner of filling vacancies among, the members of the
authority;

453

(c) the holding of a minimum number of meetings of the
authority every year, the quorum for such meetings and
the procedure thereat;

(d) the appointment of any standing, ad hoc or other
committees by the authority;

(e) the employment of a Secretary and other staff by the
authority, the pay and allowances and other conditions of
service of such staff;

(f) the constitution of a fund by the authority, the
amounts that may be credited to such fund and the
expenses to which the fund may be applied;

(g) the form and the manner in which accounts shall be
kept by the authority;

(h) the submission of an annual report by the authority
of its activities;

(i) the decisions of the authority which shall be subject to
review;

(j) the constitution of a committee for making such review
and the procedure to be followed by such committee; and

(k) any other matter which may be necessary or proper
for the effective implementation of the decision or
directions of the Tribunal.

(3) In making provision in any scheme framed under sub-
section (1) for the establishment of an authority for giving
effect to the decision of a Tribunal, the Central
Government may, having regard to the nature of the
jurisdiction, powers and functions required to be vested
in such authority in accordance with such decision and
all other relevant circumstances, declare in the said
scheme that such authority shall, under the name
specified in the said scheme, have capacity to acquire,
hold and dispose of property, enter into contracts, sue
and be sued and do all such acts as may be necessary for
454

the proper exercise and discharge of its jurisdiction,
powers and functions.

(4) A scheme may empower the authority to make, with
the previous approval of the Central Government,
regulations for giving effect to the purposes of the
scheme.

(5) The Central Government may, by notification in the
Official Gazette, add to, amend, or vary, any scheme
framed under sub- section (1).

(6) Every scheme framed under this section shall have
effect notwithstanding anything contained in any law for
the time being in force (other than this Act) or any
instrument having effect by Virtue of any law other than
this Act.

(7) Every scheme and every regulation made under a
scheme shall be laid, as soon as may be after it is made,
before each House of Parliament, while it is in session,
for a total period of thirty days which may be comprised
in one session or in two or more successive sessions, and
if, before the expiry of the session immediately following
the session or the successive sessions aforesaid, both
Houses agree in making any modification in the scheme
or the regulation or both Houses agree that the scheme
or the regulation should not be made, the scheme or the
regulation shall thereafter have effect only in such
modified form or be of no effect, as the case may be; so,
however, that any such modification or annulment shall
be without prejudice to the validity of anything previously
done under that scheme or regulation."

402. We have already noted the submissions of the learned Solicitor

General. His submission, in essentiality, is that the Court should

not issue any direction to the Central Government and allow the
455

discretion to be exercised by it as the provision uses the word may.

The said argument, as we perceive on a first blush, may look quite

attractive or for a while impressive but really cannot stand the

substance test. In State of Karnataka (supra) while interpreting

the said provision in the context of maintainability, we had held:-

―….The learned Senior Counsel for the respondent has
drawn a distinction between the conferment and the
exclusion of the power of the Supreme Court of India by
the original Constitution and any exclusion by the
constitutional amendment. Be that as it may, the said
aspect need not be adverted to, as we are only required to
interpret Section 6(2) as it exists today on the statute
book. The said provision has been inserted to provide
teeth to the decision of the Tribunal after its publication
in the Official Gazette by the Central Government and
this has been done keeping in view the Sarkaria
Commission‘s Report on Centre-State Relations (1980).
The relevant extract of the Sarkaria Commission‘s Report
reads as follows:

―17.4.19. The Act was amended in 1980 and
Section 6-A was inserted. This section provides
for framing a scheme for giving effect to a
Tribunal‘s award. The scheme, inter alia provides
for the establishment of the authority, its term of
office and other conditions of service, etc. But the
mere creation of such an agency will not be able
to ensure implementation of a Tribunal‘s award.
Any agency set up under Section 6-A cannot
really function without the cooperation of the
States concerned. Further, to make a Tribunal‘s
award binding and effectively enforceable, it
should have the same force and sanction behind
456

it as an order or decree of the Supreme Court. We
recommend that the Act should be suitably
amended for this purpose.

* * *
17.6.05. The Inter-State Water Disputes Act,
1956 should be amended so that a Tribunal‘s
award has the same force and sanction behind it
as an order or decree of the Supreme Court to
make a Tribunal‘s award really binding.‖

74. The Report of the Commission as the language would
suggest, was to make the final decision of the Tribunal
binding on both the States and once it is treated as a
decree of this Court, then it has the binding effect. It was
suggested to make the award effectively enforceable. The
language employed in Section 6(2) suggests that the
decision of the Tribunal shall have the same force as the
order or decree of this Court. There is a distinction
between having the same force as an order or decree of
this Court and passing of a decree by this Court after due
adjudication. Parliament has intentionally used the
words from which it can be construed that a legal fiction
is meant to serve the purpose for which the fiction has
been created and not intended to travel beyond it. The
purpose is to have the binding effect of the Tribunal‘s
award and the effectiveness of enforceability. Thus, it has
to be narrowly construed regard being had to the purpose
it is meant to serve.‖

403. We have referred to the aforesaid passages as the award of the

Tribunal has to be treated as decree of the Supreme Court. It is so

stated in Section 6(2) to give teeth to the award passed by the

Tribunal so that none of the States can raise objection to the same

and be guided by the directions of the Tribunal. The purpose of
457

framing the scheme is exclusively for implementation of the award.

The authorities cited by Mr. Ranjit Kumar, we are afraid, are of no

assistance in the present context. It needs no special emphasis to

state that the purpose of Section 6A is to act in the manner in

which the award determines the allocation and decides the dispute

with regard to allocation or sharing of water. Keeping that in view,

we direct that a scheme shall be framed by the Central Government

within a span of six weeks from today so that the authorities under

the scheme can see to it that the present decision which has

modified the award passed by the Tribunal is smoothly made

functional and the rights of the States as determined by us are

appositely carried out. When we say so, we also categorically

convey that the need based monthly release has to be respected. It

is hereby made clear that no extension shall be granted for framing

of the scheme on any ground.

Z. The conclusions in seriatim

404. In view of our aforesaid analysis we record our conclusions in

seriatim:-

458

(i) After coming into force of the 1947 Act, the doctrine of

paramountcy has no room for application as the Government

of India became the full sovereign authority. The two

agreements of 1892 and 1924 had neither any political

arrangement nor touched any facet of sovereignty of India. Per

contra, the agreements cover the areas of larger public interest

which do not have any political element and in this backdrop,

the agreements are neither inoperative nor completely extinct.

(ii) The issues in this case have no connection, whatsoever, with

the concepts of sovereignty and integrity of India and,

therefore, the bar under Article 363 of the Constitution of

India is not attracted.

(iii) Even if we accept the contention that the State of Karnataka

did not have any bargaining power at the time of entering into

the agreements, but, the State of Karnataka acquired the said

bargaining power after the 1947 Act, and definitely after

coming into force the Constitution of India. Regardless of the

same, the State of Karnataka chose not to denounce the said

agreements. Therefore, the said agreements cannot be said to

be unconscionable.

459

(iv) The newly formed States never belied the agreements of 1892

and 1924 after the Reorganization Act, 1956. Ergo, both the

agreements remained in force despite coming into effect of the

Reorganization Act, 1956.

(v) A scrutinized perusal of the 1924 Agreement reveals that the

said Agreement was never intended to be of permanent

character. On the contrary, it contemplated a fixed term of 50

years. Therefore, the said agreement expired after 50 years in

the year 1974.

(vi) The Tribunal in its approach primarily referred to Helsinki

Rules, 1966 which rejected the Harmon doctrine and laid

stress on equitable utilization of international rivers. We are

of the opinion that the Tribunal was correct in its approach.

For determining reasonable and equitable shares, relevant

factors have to be considered together, in reaching a

conclusion. Keeping in view the various intricacies involved in

the case at hand and the duty ordained upon this Court by

the Constitution of India, the matter deserved to be

adjudicated on the bedrock of equal status of the states and

doctrine of equitability. Resultantly, the submission that the
460

complaint of the State of Tamil Nadu did not warrant any

adjudication, does not commend any acceptation.

(vii) This Court in In Re: Presidential Reference (Cauvery Water

Disputes Tribunal) has held that waters of an inter-state river

passing through corridors of the riparian states constitute a

national asset and no single State can claim exclusive

ownership of its water. In this context, the principle of

equitable apportionment internationally recognized by the

Helsinki Rules, Compione Rules and Berlin Rules which have

also been incorporated in the 1987 to 2002 National Water

Policies, have been regarded to be the guiding factor for

resolving disputes qua apportionment of water of an inter-

state river.

(viii) After considering all relevant materials brought on record, we

are of the view that having regard to imperative of economy of

consumption of water, the final determination of irrigated area

arrived at by the Tribunal for Tamil Nadu, cannot be declared

incorrect or fallacious.

461

(ix) We do not find any perversity of approach in the Tribunal‘s

findings with regard to the allocation of water for domestic and

industrial purposes in the State of Tamil Nadu. Hence, the

same requires no interference.

(x) Drinking water requirement of the overall population of all the

States has to be placed on a higher pedestal as we treat it as a

hierarchically fundamental principle of equitable distribution

(xi) The rejection of the stand of Kerala seeking trans-basin

diversion for hydro-power projects by the Tribunal is justified.

The Tribunal has allocated a total of 30 TMC of water towards

the overall needs of the State of Kerala and we concur with the

said conclusion of the Tribunal.

(xii) We concur with the Tribunal‘s findings that the Union

Territory of Puducherry is entitled for a ―second crop‖, having

regard to its unique geographical position and its irrigated

area being approximately 43,000 acres.

(xiii) The allocation of water in favour of Union Territory of

Puducherry does not require any further enhancement.

(xiv) The admission of facts along with the confirmatory empirical

data suggests that around 20 TMC of groundwater is available
462

beneath the surface in Tamil Nadu which the Tribunal has not

taken into account citing it as a conjecture. We, while keeping

in mind the risks associated with over extraction of

underground water, deem it fit that 10 TMC of the said

available groundwater in Tamil Nadu can, in the facts and

circumstances of the present case, be accounted for in the

final determination of its share.

(xv) The Tribunal had drastically reduced the share of Karnataka

towards Domestic and Industrial purpose for the reason being

that only 1/3rd of the city of Bangaluru falls within the river

basin and also on the presumption that 50% of the drinking

water requirement would be met from ground water supply.

The said view taken by the Tribunal ignores the basic principle

pertaining to drinking water and is, thus unsustainable.

Keeping in mind the global status that the city has attained,

an addition of 4.75 TMC is awarded to Karnataka.

(xvi) The perspective of the Tribunal to assign 10 TMC of water for

environmental protection does not require to be revisited, for

such a revisit may result in unwarranted pollution and defeat

the conception of sustained environmental purity.
463

(xvii) In totality, we deem it appropriate to award to the State of

Karnataka an additional 14.75 TMC of water, i.e., 10 TMC (on

account of availability of ground water in Tamil Nadu) + 4.75

TMC (for drinking and domestic purposes including such need

for the whole city of Bengaluru).

(xviii) In view of the allocation of additional 14.75 TMC of water to

Karnataka, the State of Karnataka would now be required to

release 177.25 TMC of water at the inter-state border with

Tamil Nadu, i.e., at Billigundulu.

(xix)The argument of the Union of India that Section 6A of the 1956

Act by employing the word "may" has left room for discretion

to the Central Government for the purpose of framing a

scheme does not stand to reason and further it does not meet

the substance test. Accordingly, the said submission stands

repelled. That apart, the framing of the scheme is exclusively

meant for implementation of the award or as the same gets

modified by this Court.

(xx) It is made clear that subject to the scheme to be formulated

under Section 6A of the 1956 Act, in terms of the present

adjudication, the recommendations/directives of the Tribunal
464

with regard to the monthly releases and not inconsistent with

anything decided herein, are hereby endorsed for the present

for a period of 15 (fifteen) years hence.

405. It is obligatory to clearly state that in view of the acute scarcity

of the water resources and the intensely contested claims of the

States, it is expected that the allocations hereby made would be

utilized for the purposes earmarked and accepted and no deviancy

is shown in carrying out the verdict of this Court.

406. Before parting with the case, we record our unreserved and

uninhibited appreciation for Mr. Fali S. Nariman, Mr. S.S. Javali,

Mr. A.S. Nambiar, Mr. Rakesh Dwivedi, Mr. Shekhar Naphade, Mr.

Shyam Divan, Mr. Jaideep Gupta, learned senior counsel, Mr.

Ranjit Kumar, learned Solicitor General of India, Mr. Mohan V.

Katarki, Mr. G. Umapathy, Mr. M.R. Naik and Mr. S.C. Sharma

learned counsel for their able assistance without which it would

have been extremely difficult on our part to write this judgment.
465

407. In the ultimate analysis, Civil Appeal No. 2453 of 2007 filed by

the State of Karnataka is partly allowed and all others Appeals

stand disposed of accordingly. There shall be no order as to costs.

…………………………………….CJI
(Dipak Misra)

……………………………………….J.

(Amitava Roy)

……………………….………………J.

New Delhi;                     (A.M. Khanwilkar)
February 16, 2018

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