Chief Justice of India (CJI) N V Ramana Wednesday recused himself from hearing Andhra Pradesh's plea after it said 'no' to the Supreme Court's suggestion to go for mediation over dispute with Telangana which has allegedly deprived the state of its legitimate share of drinking and irrigation water from the Krishna river.
The CJI, who hails from Andhra Pradesh, had said in the last hearing that he belonged to both the states and suggested 'mediation' to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana for settling their dispute, saying it did not want to interfere 'unnecessarily'.
The bench, also comprising Justice Surya Kant, on Wednesday took note of the submissions of G Umapathy, the counsel appearing for Andhra Pradesh, that the state wanted adjudication of the case by the apex court bench instead of going for the mediation.
"Then let the matter be listed before another bench. We are not forcing you, if you don't want mediation. Place it before another bench," the CJI ordered.
"They don't want mediation, and I don't want to hear the matter," CJI Ramana said during the brief hearing.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, said the government has no objection if the CJI-led bench heard the plea of Andhra Pradesh.
"I do not have any objection, neither does the Government. We have full faith," the law officer said.
"Thank you," the CJI said while politely refusing to hear the case of Andhra Pradesh.
On August 2, CJI Ramana had said: "I don't want to hear this matter legally. I belong to both the states. If the matter can be settled in mediation, please do that. We can help with that. Otherwise I will transfer this to another bench."
The counsel for Andhra Pradesh had taken time till Wednesday for apprising the bench of the view of the state over the apex court's mediation offer.
In July, Andhra Pradesh government had moved the top court claiming that the Telangana government refused to follow the decisions taken by the Apex Council constituted under the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014, the directions of Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) formed under this Act, and the Centre's directives.
The petition said the fundamental rights including right to life of the people living in Andhra Pradesh was 'seriously impaired and infringed' upon as they were being deprived of their 'legitimate share of water' due to 'unconstitutional, illegal and unjust' acts of the Telangana government and its officials.
'The present petition is being moved because the state of Telangana is refusing to follow decisions taken in the Apex Council constituted under the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014, directions of KRMB, and directions of government of India,' it said.
'This has caused immense hardship for people of Andhra Pradesh as availability of water has been seriously prejudiced by depletion in Srisailam Dam project as well as other projects such as the Nagarjuna Sagar Project and the Pulichintala Project,' it added.
The petition urged the top court to direct the Centre to take control of the common reservoirs of Srisailam, Nagarjunasagar and also Pulichintala reservoirs along with all their outlets and operate them as per the rules in vogue as per the binding award.
If necessary, with the help of police protection, operate both the common reservoirs of Srisailam, Nagarjunasagar and also Pulichintala reservoir without causing prejudice to Andhra Pradesh, it urged.