Interstate Water Dispute Tribunals: Issues

Interstate Water Dispute Tribunals: Issues

Question :At the Joint Conference of Chief Ministers of States and Chief Justices of High Courts held in April this year, PM Narendra Modi wondered if tribunals have become ‘barriers’ to delivering justice. Discuss how far this is true in light of interstate water dispute tribunals.

• Since the National Water Policy 2012, a permanent tribunal has been set up to resolve interstate water dispute

• Prior to this, there were multiple tribunals

• Constitution provides special status for interstate water disputes which fall outside the jurisdiction of all courts in India including the apex court

• These disputes can be adjudged by temporary and ad hoc interstate water dispute tribunals

• Tribunals should not be viewed as barriers however

• Inter state water disputes are plagued by the following issues:
- Legal ambiguities, an institutional vacuum for implementing awards, Noncompliant States,
- Politicisation and so on.
- Even after ad hoc tribunals have been disbanded, the permanent inter state water dispute tribunal is not able to provide lasting relief
- Ad hoc water dispute tribunals date back to the colonial times

• The Interstate Water Disputes Act 1956 is a reworked arrangement derived from A130-135 of the GOI Act 1935

• On an argument that there would be few water disputes, the tribunals were resurrected in the 1950s

• A comprehensive engagement with interstate water disputes is missing in tribunals

• Reforming interstate tribunals involves clear examination of its associated pitfalls

• SC’s jurisdictional bar should also be reconsidered

Facts and Stats

• Inter state River Water Disputes Act was enacted on 28th August 1956 by the Indian Parliament under A262 on the eve of reorganisation of states on linguistic basis

• A262 provides for the Central government’s role in judging conflicts surrounding inter state rivers

• A 2002 amendment does not permit altering prevailing tribunal verdicts issues prior to 2002

• A permanent inter state water dispute tribunal was then conceived and initiated
Post your comment