Russel Joy v. Union of India - Supreme Court Important Judgment
Russel Joy v. Union of India & Ors. - Supreme Court Important Judgment 2018 -
On 11th January, 2018, in the case of Russel Joy v. Union of India & Ors. [Writ Petition (Civil) No. 878 of 2017], the safety and lifespan of Mullaperiyar Dam was in issue. There was an assertion in the petition that as 121 years had expired from the date of the construction of the dam, the decommissioning of the said dam had become essential and there was a need for assessment of the lifespan of the dam regard being had to the safety of the citizens especially the persons residing downstream of the river. In this regard, reference was also made to litigations filed between the State of Kerala and State of Tamil Nadu and the decision in State of Tamil Nadu v. State of Kerala and another, (2014) 12 SCC 696 whereby the Supreme Court apart from issuing other directions had appointed a Supervisory Committee to take measures pertaining to the dam in emergent situations.
It was held that as far as the safety measures of the Mullaperiyar Dam are concerned, the directions given in the said decision in State of Tamil Nadu v. State of Kerala shall be binding on all, however “there has to be a greater degree of disaster management and better preparedness to face any kind of disaster caused by the dam.”
The Supreme Court held that “it is the duty of the States involved to create a sense of confidence in the real sense of the term and ensure that adequate measures have been taken so that in any event safety of the individuals shall not be affected and well preserved and their life and liberty remain protected.” Accordingly, the Central Government was directed to constitute a separate Sub-Committee under Section 9 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, to exclusively monitor the measures for ensuring a high level of preparedness to face any disaster, which is unpredictable in relation to Mullaperiyar Dam. The State of Kerala as well as the State of Tamil Nadu were also directed to constitute separate Sub-Committees under Section 21 of the 2005 Act, to exclusively monitor the measures for ensuring a high level of preparedness to face any disaster occurring from Mullaperiyar Dam. They were directed to provide for a separate dispensation under the State plan as envisaged under Section 23(4) of the 2005 Act.
The State of Tamil Nadu, which had been directed to cooperate as per the decision in State of Tamil Nadu v. State of Kerala, was also directed to have a SubCommittee for disaster management and with a specific plan. It was further directed that “constitution of all sub-committees shall be in addition to the existing Committees.” All the States were directed to “work in harmony with the Central Sub-Committee and ensure high level preparedness to face any disaster occurring due to Mullaperiyar Dam, so that life and property are not damaged.”