The Supreme Court said on Thursday that no one could agitate on the streets or call bandhs to protest against a court order and once again rebuked the Karnataka and Tamil Nadu governments for failing to curb mob violence over the Cauvery water dispute.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and U U Lalit said, “The people cannot become a law unto themselves and, therefore, it is obligatory on the part of the authorities of both states, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, to prevent such actions. We are compelled and constrained to say that it is the duty of the states to see that no agitation, damage or destruction takes place.” The bench’s September 12 order reducing the daily release of Cauvery water by Karnataka from 15,000 cusecs to 12,000 cusecs did not quell violent protests in both states, despite the court warning the governments and the protesters of dire consequences.
On a PIL by social activist P Sivakumar from Kanyakumari seeking a direction to the authorities in both states to take preventive measures to quell violent protests, the bench said, “The fundamental purpose is that there can not be any agitation when it relates to an order passed by the court. It (a court order) is to be complied with and, in any case, if there is difficulty, the concerned parties can approach the court.”
After asking both state counsels to be prepared to answer questions on their failure to maintain law and order, the bench said, “We sincerely hope that wisdom shall prevail over the competent authorities of both states to maintain peace.” Shivakumar’s counsel Adish Agrawala said inhabitants of both states were resorting to competitive protests against the SC order directing Karnataka to release water to Tamil Nadu. “If one party resorts to ‘rail roko’ (stopping train services) on one day, the other party emulates it the next day,” he said.
The court said it felt the situation was returning to normal. However, Agrawala said there were fresh inci dents of violence and the ‘rail roko’ agitation was on in Karnataka on Thursday, while Tamil Nadu protesters have decided to do the same on Friday.
The bench extracted guidelines laid down by the apex court in its 2009 judgment for the police in handling violent protests. “The state government shall prepare a report on the police reports and other information that may be available to it and shall file a petition including its report in the high court or the Supreme Court as the case may be for the court in question to take suo motu action,” the SC had said in 2009.