Supreme Court today took Karnataka and Tamil Nadu governments to task for failing to check violence following its order on the Cauvery dispute, asserting that its verdict "has to be complied with" and violent agitation would serve no purpose as those aggrieved were free to take legal recourse.
Asserting that the people cannot take law into their hands, the apex court directed the two states to ensure there is no violence, agitation, destruction and damage to properties following its order on Cauvery water sharing and asked them to maintain peace, calm and dignity for law.
"We are compelled to state that it is the duty of both the states (Tamil Nadu and Karnataka) to see that no violence, agitation or destruction of properties takes place," a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and U U Lalit said, adding "we sincerely hope that wisdom shall prevail on competent authorities of both the states and that peace will prevail."
The bench also warned that "when there is court order, there should not be any violent agitations and any party aggrieved has the liberty to take legal recourse for mitigation of their grievances."
"We reiterate neither any strike nor bandh or agitation can take place when the court has passed an order and it has to be complied with. In any difficulty, concerned parties can approach the court and people cannot take law unto themselves. It is the obligation of both the states to prevent such actions," the bench said referring to its 2009 judgement which had laid down guidelines to deal with situations of violence and destruction of properties by protestors and agitators.
"We expect both the states to maintain peace, calm, harmony and dignity for law," the bench said.
The apex court, which posted the hearing on September 20 on the plea for direction to both states to take preventive measures and assessing the damages to public and private properties during agitation, said it will also take up the main matter of Cauvery water dispute.
On being pointed out by senior advocate Adish Aggarwala, appearing for petitioner P Shivakumar that today 'Rail Roko' was organised in Karnataka and tomorrow a similar agitation will be held in Tamil Nadu, the bench said it was the sacred duty to see no agitation, damage or destruction of property takes place.
When the court questioned his locus standi, Shivakumar said he was a social activist and a resident of Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu and added that he was aggrieved by the violence in both states in which public, private properties were being damaged by local groups.
The bench observed that as per media reports, the situation was returning to normal and asked the petitioner to specify what was the present state of affair.
Counsel for petitioner then told the bench that due to the 'rail roko' agitation, buses were also not plying in Karnataka apprehending violence and a similar 'bandh' call has been given in Tamil Nadu for tomorrow.
Approximately Rs 25,000 crore worth of properties have been damaged in violence in the two states and the apex court had specifically directed in 2009 that if there is violence in these two states, these have to be reported to the apex court, the counsel said.
The court had yesterday agreed to hear the plea seeking direction to the Centre, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to maintain law and order in these two states witnessing violent protests in the wake of a row over distribution of Cauvery water.
On September 12, the apex court modified its earlier order on sharing of Cauvery water and directed Karnataka to release 12,000 cusecs instead of 15,000 cusecs per day till September 20 to Tamil Nadu.
Rejecting Karnataka's plea seeking that its September 5 order for release of 15,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu be kept in abeyance, the court had asked the Executive to ensure compliance. It was also critical of the language used in Karnataka's plea.