The Supreme Court asked the two governments to ensure peace and harmony, saying citizens should not become law unto themselves.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra, which commenced the crucial hearing on various issues arising out of the dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka over sharing of Cauvery waters, said it first intended to adjudicate the issue of maintainability of appeals filed by both the states and Kerala against the tribunal's 2013 award.

"We intend to first adjudicate issue of maintainability of appeals filed by Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. At this juncture, the interim order dated October 4 directing

Karnataka to release 2000 cusecs of water per day to Tamil Nadu will continue till further orders," the bench also comprising Justices Amitava Roy and A M Khanwilkar said.

The bench said "morality of respect for both the states, among people of both the states and properties, should be maintained".

The court also noted the submission of Karnataka that it has complied with the earlier order of releasing 2000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu.

Both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu said they were in dire need of water, which was even supported by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi.

During the hearing, Rohatgi submitted that the apex court-appointed Supervisory Committee, formed to inspect Cauvery basin to assess the ground realities in the region, has submitted its report.

The bench said it would first go into the issue of maintainability of appeals filed by Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry against the award of tribunal and then hear the arguments on the report filed by the committee.

The Attorney General said the appeals filed by the states were not maintainable as per article 131 and 262 of the Constitution and the provisions of Inter-state River Water Disputes Act, 1956.

He said as per the constitutional provisions, a decree passed by a tribunal will be like a decree of Supreme Court which cannot hear the appeals against its own order. Senior advocate and noted jurist Fali S Nariman, appearing for Karnataka, said the appeals are maintainable as Supreme Court can only adjudicate the disputes between two states. 

(With Agency Inputs)