Article 262 of Indian Constitution
(1) Parliament may by law provide for the adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution or control of the waters of, or in, any inter-State river or river valley.
(2) Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, Parliament may by law provide that neither the Supreme Court nor any other court shall exercise jurisdiction in respect of any such dispute or complaint as is referred to in clause (1).
Explanation of Article 262 of Indian Constitution:
Further, Article 262 of Indian Constitution empowers the Parliament in the matters of adjudication of Inter-water disputes. It provides the following provisions:
Parliament will adjudicate complaints on any dispute associated with water use, distribution and management of inter-state rivers and river valleys by enacting legislation.
Parliament can even make arrangements that neither the Supreme Court nor any other court will have jurisdiction in such a dispute.
Under this provision, the Parliament has legislated two laws:
- River Boards Act, 1956– formed using the power given in entry 56 of the Union list.
- Inter-State Water Disputes Act, 1956– formed under Article 262.
1. River Boards Act 1956
The Act provides for establishing river boards to regulate and develop inter-state rivers and river valleys. The Central government sets up a river board at the request of the concerned states to advise them.
2. Inter-State Water Disputes Act 1956
The Act provides for adjudication of disputes involving interstate rivers and river valleys.
- Formation of Tribunal: When any request under this Act is received from any State Government involving any water dispute on the inter-state rivers and the Union Government is of the opinion that negotiations cannot settle the water dispute, the Union Government sets up a Water Disputes Tribunal for the adjudication of the water dispute.
- Membership of the Tribunal: The tribunalconsists of a Chairman and two other members, nominated on this behalf by the Chief Justice of India, from judges of the Supreme Court or of a High Court.
- The decision of the tribunal is final and bindingon the parties. The parties must give effect to it.
- The Act bars the jurisdiction of other courts.
So far, nine inter-state river water dispute tribunals have been constituted, of which five are active.
|Inter-State Water Tribunals
|Krishna Water dispute tribunal-I
|Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh
Godavari water dispute
|Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha
|Narmada water dispute tribunal
|Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra
|Ravi & Beas water dispute tribunal
|Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan
|Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal
|Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry
|Krishna Water Dispute tribunal-II
|Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh
|Vansadhara water dispute tribunal
|Odisha and Andhra Pradesh
|Mahadayi Water Dispute Tribunal
|Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra
|Mahanadi Water Dispute Tribunal
|* Those highlighted in green are active ones
Why was an extra-judicial mechanism necessitated in the case of inter-state river disputes?
Article 262 of the Indian Constitution bars the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court or any others for the following reasons:
- These types of disputes are political in natureand involve the sentiments of people; hence, it is important to approach such issues with extreme sensitivity. Only a political solution can satisfy the demands of the concerned parties.
- To avoid delay and complexities involved in a litigation process.
- To ensure speedy and amicable decisions through a quasi-judicial body.
- To avoid conflicting judgments on the same issue by different courts.
- To respect the autonomy of states in managing their own water resources.
- The tribunals are equipped with the requisite expertise and data to deal with such complicated issues; this may not be available in the case of courts.
However, the Supreme Court has asserted its jurisdiction over inter-state river water disputes by invoking its rights under Article 136 (special leave petition) and Article 142 (enforcement of decrees and orders for doing complete justice). The Court held that it could review the tribunal’s decision on the grounds of manifest error, perversity and violation of fundamental rights.
Inter-State River Water Disputes Amendment Bill, 2019
It deals with the shortcomings of the existing Act, such as long-festering delays and lack of transparency in the framework and guidelines of the working of tribunals, the government brought an amendment to the current Act. The key features of this bill are:
For further reference:
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