The Supreme Court Thursday directed Karnataka to release 2.44 tmc (thousand million cubic feet) of Cauvery river water to Tamil Nadu for irrigating its standing crops in the Cauvery delta basin.
A bench of Justice R.M. Lodha, Justice J.Chelameswar and Justice Madan B. Lokur said Karnataka would release the water forthwith.
The court order came after it received the report of the expert committee that had visited the Tamil Nadu part of the Cauvery delta basin and recommended that 2.44 tmc water be released for the standing crop.
The apex court had 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.
He contended that even the "expert committee was guarded in their conclusions. 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".
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.
"These are broad estimates and features. We gave them a short time. We could not have given then 15 days' time" as there was question of standing crops, he added.
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.
In fact, "we thank the expert committee for completing the task in such a short time. We must complement them", he said.
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."
The apex court Feb 4 had asked Tamil Nadu to release two TMC (thousand million cubic feet) of water from Mettur reservoir for its standing crops, which in turn would be replenished by Karnataka from the Cauvery water.