New Delhi: A five-judge Constitution Bench of
the Supreme Court on Tuesday slammed Tamil Nadu and Kerala for
whipping up sentiments on the Mullaperiyar dam issue and
"adding fire to the fuel instead of dousing it" by inciting
Urging the two states to observe "sensitiveness and
sanity", the apex court directed Tamil Nadu to ensure that the
water level did not breach the 136 feet level and rejected
Kerala`s plea for restricting the limit to 120 feet.
The bench comprising justices D K Jain, R M Lodha, Deepak
Verma, C K Prasad and A R Dave also asked the Union Government
to file its response by Thursday on Tamil Nadu`s plea for
deployment of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) for
ensuring safety of the century-old dam.
"Both the parties instead of dousing the fire are adding
fuel to it. There has to be sanity and sensitiveness, " the
Additional Solicitor General Harin Rawal and senior
counsel Ashok Bhan, who initially submitted that Kerala had
taken sufficient measures to protect the dam, later agreed to
file a reply after seeking necessary instructions from the
The bench also castigated Tamil Nadu for misusing the
apex court`s earlier orders and oral observations through huge
newspaper advertisements and also declined to entertain its
plea for restraining Kerala leaders from making any statements
on the dam row.
"How can we stop them with a gag order. Kindly see
your prayer. How do we issue such a gag order. If somebody
wants to protest he can.
"You are issuing press advertisements. Even our oral
observations are being mentioned in the advertisements. It is
very unfortunate. You must have had some senior counsel`s
assistance while issuing the advertisements," the bench
"Court proceedings should not be used for settling
political scores. This is a sacred institution, the sanctity
must be maintained.
"The chief executive of the state government makes use of
the observation of the court proceedings. It may not be proper
when the matter is subjudice," the bench told senior counsel
Raju Ramachandran, appearing for Tamil Nadu.
"Though there is nothing substantive involved in the
controversy both sides are inciting.
"Ultimately the safety of the people is paramount. We
cannot compromise on the safety of people. Even one life is
important. Why for that matter even the life of an animal or
even the forest is important," the bench observed while asking
Tamil Nadu to ensure that the water level did not breach the
136 feet fixed by it in its earlier order.
The apex court said Kerala`s fears of the dam`s collapse
from possible quakes cannot be brushed aside lightly.
"It (water level) has exceeded 136 feet. It cannot be
without basis. You have to ensure it does not exceed. You are
bound by it. You cannot permit it to go beyond 136 feet.
Between 26 November and December 5 it has gone up," the bench
The apex court asked Additional Solicitor General Rawal
as to why the Centre had not taken any stance on Tamil Nadu`s
plea for deployment of CISF to protect the dam.
"A letter was written to the Prime Minister on December
4. By this time it must have reached you," the bench observed
referring to the correspondence between the state and the
Centre on the issue.
Rawal then offered to file a reply, following which the
court posted the matter for further hearing to December
The apex court also declined to entertain Kerala`s
application for reducing the water level to 120 feet.
"Had the situation been really that serious and very
grave, the committee (empowered) would have submitted a
"We will not pass any order. It is entirely left to your
wisdom. The relief which you have sought cannot be granted
until the committee submits a report," the bench said, upon
which senior counsel PP Rao, appearing for Kerala, withdrew
While Kerala wants to demolish the dam located in its
Idukki district due to the perceived ecological threat and
fears of possible collapse of the dam, Tamil Nadu wants the
structure to be protected as it caters to irrigation and
drinking water needs of a dozen of its districts.