Bengaluru: Uncertainty surrounds Justice K.L. Manjunath’s position as chairman of the River Protection Committee, also known as the State River Council, with a few members of the state's legal team in Delhi shooting off a letter to Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa complaining that he is hampering their efforts do legal work vis-a-vis Karnataka’s water disputes and demanding his removal.
Till a year ago, Karnataka did not have a separate water council and when the last government decided to create it, Justice Manjunath, who was heading the Karnataka Border Area Protection Committee at the time, was given the additional responsibility of heading it too .
But the Delhi lawyers have complained in their letter that after his taking over they have not been able to directly interact with officials for information.
They recalled that a GO was issued to say that only Justice Manjunath could deal with the officials and every file or communication related to inter- state water disputes had to go through him.
They also argued that allowing Justice Manjunath to draft the state’s pleas from Bengaluru went against the spirit of the Advocates’ Act.
When contacted, Justice Manjunath flatly denied that he was making life difficult for the state’s legal team. “You come to my office, I will show you how much work I have done for no extra fee. Before I stepped in, the state lacked direction in fighting these cases. I gave them a new direction and fine-tuned every draft.
I never interfered in the work of the lawyers in Delhi. I only interacted with the then Advocate General, Uday Holla. You can ask him about my work,” he said.
When contacted, Mr Holla gave a thumbs up to the work done by Justice Manjunath. “The issue is not about whether he is an expert in irrigation matters or not. Any lawyer or judge, who is sharp and logical can deal with any case. I don’t want to say much, but I can say that Justice Manjunath has significantly contributed to the strategy of the state in water dispute cases,” he said....