New Delhi/Bangalore: The Supreme Court Thursday directed Karnataka to “forthwith” release 2.44 tmc (thousand million cubic feet) of Cauvery river water to Tamil Nadu for irrigating its standing crops but the state said it would explore all options.
A bench of Justice R.M. Lodha, Justice J.Chelameswar and Justice Madan B. Lokur said Karnataka would release the water forthwith.
However, Karnataka was not moved.
“We will not release the water in a hurry and will explore all options,” Water Resources Minister Basavaraj Bommai told the Karnataka assembly in Bangalore soon after the apex court order.
Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar told the house that “it (directive to release water forthwith) is a matter of serious concern”.
Later, Shettar and Bommai flew to New Delhi to consult legal experts on whether the state can approach the apex court to withdraw or modify its directive as Karnataka too was facing severe water shortage.
Shettar and Bommai told the house that in the past the Supreme Court directives were accompanied by a schedule to release the water over a period of time.
“This time the order is for forthwith release and this is of grave concern,” Bommai said as opposition Congress and Janata Dal-Secular members demanded that the state government take all steps to get the directive rescinded.
Both Shettar and Bommai refuted the opposition charge that the Bharatiya Janata Party government had failed to provide to the Supreme Court full details of the grave shortage of water the state was facing following failure of monsoon.
The apex court order came after it received the expert committee report, following its visite to the Tamil Nadu part of the Cauvery delta basin, that 2.44 tmc water be released for the standing crop.
The apex court Feb 4 directed the chairman of the Central Water Commission to constitute a three-member expert committee to visit the area.
Appearing for Tamil Nadu, senior counsel C.S. Vaidyanathan objected to the expert committee report, saying that it was not based on objective facts.
“They have not covered even 10 percent of the area which has the standing crop. They could not have covered the entire area in one day,” he contended.
Brushing aside Tamil Nadu’s objections, the court said: “According to you, whatever you say should be accepted as gospel truth and the order be passed accordingly.”
“We did not expect them (the expert committee) to come to a precise conclusion by surveying the area inch by inch,” Justice Lodha said.
Unimpressed by the submission by Vaidyanathan, Justice Lodha said that in 20 years as a judge he has not come across an instance when the report of an expert committee has not come in for criticism.
Tamil Nadu came in for another rebuff when in response to a submission by Vaidyanathan that “this is an election year in Karnataka”, Justice Lodha said: “This is something that is outside the court.”
Senior counsel Anil Divan, appearing for Karnataka, also took exception to this point by Vaidyanathan, saying Tamil Nadu counsel could not attribute malafide intent and politics at the bar.
As Divan said that nothing would make Tamil Nadu happy, Justice Lodha said: “Tamil Nadu will be happy if God gives them good rains.”
Appearing for Tamil Nadu earlier this week, Vaidvanathan sought nine TMC of water for the state’s standing crops spread over six lakh hectares of land.
He said one-third of the crops spread over three lakh hectares of land had perished due to drought and the remaining crop in six lakh hectares area needed to be irrigated twice to save it.
Senior counsel Fali Nariman, appearing for Karnataka, contended that 40 percent of standing crops had been harvested and the rest was about to be harvested. Thus, Tamil Nadu needed no water for irrigation.
Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin
Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has asked authorities to place ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on the Exit Control List to prevent them from leaving the country.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent a formal request to the ministry of interior. The interior ministry officials confirmed that the NAB wrote that names of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar should be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), which listed individuals not allowed to leave Pakistan.
The NAB argued that as the trial of the three nears its conclusion, it is feared that they would leave the country.
Earlier, a similar request to place name of finance minister Ishaq Dar on ECL was not accepted, allowing him to go to London and never return.
Sharif, 68, and his family this week filed an application with the accountability court seeking a fortnight’s exemption from personal appearance from February 19 onwards to let them go to London to see Sharif’s ailing wife. Three cases were filed against Sharif and his family last year, including Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments.
Maryam and Safdar are accused only in Avenfield properties case. The NAB had filed two supplementary references against Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment cases.
Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told
The Hague: Pakistan is violating its “obligations” to the international community by failing to reduce its nuclear arsenal, the Marshall Islands told the UN’s highest court on Tuesday.
The small Pacific Island nation is this week launching three unusual cases against India, Pakistan and Britain before the International Court of Justice.
Majuro wants to put a new spotlight on the global nuclear threat, its lawyers said yesterday, by using its own experience with massive US-led nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s.
“Pakistan is in breach of its obligations owed to the international community as a whole,” when it comes to reducing its nuclear stockpile, said Nicholas Grief, one of the island nation’s lawyers.
DeBrum warned that even a “limited nuclear war” involving the two countries would “threaten the existence” of his island nation people.
Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.
In 1998, the rival neighbours both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability.
The ICJ’s judges are holding hearings for the next week and a half to decide whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits brought against India and Pakistan — neither of which have signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
A third hearing against Britain — which has signed the NPT — scheduled to start on Wednesday will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.
The Marshalls initially sought to bring a case against nine countries it said possessed nuclear arms: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.
But the Hague-based ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between states, has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan, because they have accepted the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.
Pakistan’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearings.
It did however file a counter-claim against Majuro’s allegations saying “the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the application” and insisting that the case is “not admissible”, said ICJ President Ronny Abraham.
Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus
New Delhi: Bangladesh is likely to drop Islam as its official religion following a series of attacks on people from other faiths in the country. The country’s Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the status of the official religion of the country to Islam.
Bangladesh, which was declared a secular country after its formation in 1971, was declared an Islamic country following a constitutional amendment in 1988.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plea has challenged the declaration of Islam as the national religion of the country.
The move is being supported by leaders from the minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
Bangladesh has 90 per cent of Muslims, 8 per cent Hindus and remaining constitutes Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
In last month, a Hindu priest was hacked to death following an attack on a temple in Panchgarh district. Two others were seriously injured in the attack. There have been several lethal attacks on writers and bloggers.
According to a report in the Independent, Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are believed to have carried out at least seven attacks on foreign and minority people in Bangladesh in the past year.