Agreements between Madras Presidency, princely Mysore in public interest: SC

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New Delhi, Feb 16 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Friday rejected Karnataka’s contention that 1892 and 1924 agreements between British-ruled Madras Presidency and the princely state of Mysore could not have been the basis of a tribunal award as they were thrust on Mysore which could not bargain.

Describing the 1892 and 1924 agreements as in “larger public interest with no political elements”, the bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Amitavsa Roy and Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, hearing the appeals against the 2007 award of the Cauvery Water Tribunal, said that at no stage after the reorganisation of the states in 1956, did Karnataka ever object to them.

The judgment said that the two agreements were not political arrangements but covered “the areas of larger public interest which do not have any political element and in this backdrop, the agreements are neither inoperative nor completely extinct”.

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Even if Karnataka’s contention that Mysore did not have the bargaining power at the time of entering 1892 and 1924 agreements were to be accepted, the court said: “… Karnataka acquired the said bargaining power after the 1947 Act, and definitely after coming into force the Constitution of India” and “chose not to denounce” them.

“Therefore, the said agreements cannot be said to be unconscionable,” the judgment said.

“The newly-formed states never belied the agreements of 1892 and 1924 after the Reorganization Act, 1956. Ergo, both the agreements remained in force despite coming into effect of the Reorganization Act, 1956,” it maintained.

A perusal of the 1924 Agreement, the court said, “reveals that the said Agreement was never intended to be of permanent character. On the contrary, it contemplated a fixed term of 50 years”, and expired in 1974.

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