Not everybody is a loser in the Cauvery dispute

Karnataka may have lost the Cauvery battle in the popular perception, but the lawyers representing the State won big because of the long-drawn dispute. A story by Chamaraja Savadi in today’s Praja Vani reveals that between 1990-91 and 2007, the State spent a grand total of Rs 22.10 crore on the 18 laywers who represented it at the apex court. That’s roughly Rs 1.22 crore per black coat.

Quoting documents procured by a Dharwad citizen, Krishna Joshi, using the provisions of the Right to Information, the story shows that, on the other hand, the State spent Rs 1.34 crore on the 10 advocates-general in the same 16-year period.

Anil B. Divan took home the lion’s share of the Rs 22 crore, with Rs 9.66 crore, followed by S.S. Javali (Rs 3.77 crore) and Mohan V. Kataraki (Rs 2.75 crore). Fali S. Nariman who has represented the State from very nearly the beginning of the dispute took Rs 2.08 crore.

The most inexpensive lawyer was Ashok Mathur whose services cost the State Rs 3,000.

The highest expense incurred by the State in the 16-year saga was in 2005-06 when it filed a review petition before the Cauvery Tribunal. The lawyers’ fees in that financial year was a grand total of Rs 5.19 crore.

Kataraki visited Bangalore 193 times to discuss the case with state officials, Javali 158 times, Shambhu Prasad Singh 138 times, Divan 46 times, Syed Naqvi 26 times, Nariman 19 times, Brijesh Kalappa 18 times, Ranveer Singh 14 times, and Sanjay Hegde seven times.


Rs 22 crore is small change for a dispute which has such wide-ranging ramificiations. Still, the usual questions pop up: for all the money spent, did the State get the best legal talent? Was it worth it? Did the five-star lawyers put their heart and soul into the case, or was it just another case for them? Judging from some of the numbers, was it in the interest of some of the lawyers to prolong the case?

20 Responses to “Not everybody is a loser in the Cauvery dispute”

  1. decemberstud Says:

    True, valid questions. But, the universal truth is that the winner and his countrymen are never questioned. Losers are the nes who face all the questions.

    In a very complex case such as the Cauvery dispute, it is quite tough to prove whether the lawyers deliverately dragged it or didn’t put their heart into the case. I mean it is quite impossible.

    As you have pointed out, this was indeed a case which did require a lot of attention. I am sure we could have certainly avoided some part of that 22 crores.

    Since it is quite impossible to prove how or when we could have saved money, I guess it is better left untouched. I mean, honestly, we cannot really do much, can we?

  2. R Biddappa Says:

    Except F S Nariman, all others are jokers. They do nothing. They know nothing. Lawyers like Mohan Katharki, Brijesh Kalappa are good only at hobnobbing with politicians…. All of them should be kicked out.

  3. emailxyz Says:

    Brijesh Kalappa was a crime reporter in Asian Age before his proximity to politicos landed him this job. In fact his brother Bansy Kalappa still continues to report crime in ToI…

  4. dharma Says:

    Sr. Bidappa,
    Very good!
    ‘Except F S Nariman, all others are jokers. They do nothing.’
    Why sideline Nariman from this booty!

  5. Doddi Buddi Says:

    Dear All,

    Why spare FS Nariman? That old man should have argued better–why couldn’t these ‘legal brains’ present a strong case against the 1924 agreement!

    In fact I see no reason to spare FSN. He should be sacked and replaced by another senior lawyer!

  6. Doode Says:

    Karnataka lost both water and money because of these dicks. Cauvery dispute is Kalpavruksha to these bunch of bootleggers. Sadly, taxpayers money is doomed

  7. goutam Says:

    It is only the people of Mysore and Tiruchi who are the losers. The people who have taken up the case on both sides have made lot of money by just arguing and will keep arguing for years now with no apperent result.
    Why not we think as to why this water shortage now and spend all this money on reforesting the catchment areas. I have been to Tiruchi Rockfort temple in the 70’s during summer and found water flowing from bank to bank. During my recent visit it is all dry.
    When you travel from Mysore to Madakei in the 70’s it used to be heven with thick vegitation now it is only plantation and houses, factories . It is all hell.
    Why not some thing be done about this rather than going to court, trebunal and spend public money.

  8. dharma Says:

    Mr Goutam
    Are you a greedom fighter?
    We are in the 21st century. Our people suck blood of the farmers!!

  9. NS Rao Says:

    kila kilaa!!

    huchchumunDe maduveyalli unDavane jaaNa!!

  10. vinay Says:

    “One lawyer can steal more than a hundred men with guns.” — from The Godfather’

  11. Andy Says:

    Brillant quote..thanks Vinay..what timing ..

  12. Jokers-all Says:

    Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future!
    Leave the former crime reporter Brijesh Kalappa alone- everyone in the legal team has to enjoy the confidence of the great Mr. Nariman- failing which, they are dropped like hot potatoes. Any lawyer worth his salt will tell you how difficult it is to get a poor draft past Mr. Nariman- surely there is something worthwhile to keep him in the team- besides hobnobbing with politicoes. I for one will vouch for the fact that he writes brilliantly!

  13. A Layman Says:

    Who’s is this R.Biddappa? As a Kodava, one cant be that. Is he a real one or a fake? Let us know what are his credentials to comment upon others. India is full of people like R. Biddappa who are no doers but are quick to comment on others. I can only pity this pathetic guy. Get Lost, R. Biddappa

  14. Legal Team representing Karnataka in the Cauvery Water Disputes. Says:

    We have read the reactions of various people on your blog. These reactions to the payments received by Lawyers are not based on full information. If these gentlemen had spared a little time to go through the records of about 600 days of sittings of the Tribunal and Supreme Court between 1990 to 2007 and records of the case running into about 50,000 pages from 1799 AD onwards, we are sure they would not have made such highly irresponsible, totally uncharitable and comments devoid of any sense. We may also point out that some of these comments/reactions could also be at the instance of the enemies of Karnataka in th Cauvery Water Dispute.

    A Lawyer is entitled to remuneration which cannot be considered as wrongful payment unless his services are found to be deficient. In this regard, we would only like to reproduce the contents of the letter sent by the Government of Karnataka dated 3rd March 2007 :

    “On 24th February, 2007 an All-party Meeting was held in Vidhana Soudha, Bangalore to discuss about the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal. The meeting, which was presided by Hon’ble Chief Minister, was attended by leaders of various political parties, MLAs/MPs and other important dignitaries. The All-party meeting while appreciating the Professional services rendered by the legal team, passed an unanimous resolution to continue the legal battle on the advice of the legal team …”

  15. To: R. Biddappa Says:

    It is shocking to see the comment of R Biddappa regarding Mohan Katarki! Mohan Katarki is an internationally renowned expert in inter-state water law representing not only the State of Karnataka but also the States of Punjab and Kerala. Surely these States would not have been claamouring for his services if he had survived in Karnataka’s Team only by “hobnobing with politicians”. The lilliput Biddappa should do some more homework before commenting on genuine giants. His comments betray his class.

  16. Jyotiprakash Says:

    Who are all these pygmies criticising Nariman? None of them have status to comment against a saint who is defending Karnataka’s interests at a fraction of his fee.

  17. Rajan Mahaan Says:

    Those who are sputtering here know nothing of the tehno-legal complexities of Cauvery Water Dispute. They are fools if they think that Karnataka has lost the case. Idiots, please appreciate that the Tribunal has permitted Karnataka to increase its irrigation from around 6.00 lakh acres under the great Agreement of 1924 to 18.85 lakh acres! All you ill-endowed ones, this is no mean achievement for Karnataka when the Agreement of 1924 was considered as a fair deal by even the great Viswesvaraya. It was also religiously followed by the politicians of Karnataka till 1974. If Karnataka is crying foul, then it is obviously only for getting more waters than it has already got but this does not mean that Karnataka has lost in the proceedings. It is certainly not a bad job by Lawyers and Engineers of Karnataka.


    In view of the reply given by Legal team,likes of Biddappa must tender APOLOGY to the Legal team of Karnataka.
    Vinay Kumar Shailendra, Advocate, Supreme Court,New Delhi

  19. Not A Witty Nick Says:

    Never observed these developments, it definitely looks like the work M/s Kalappa and co.

    The land being cultivated in both K’taka and TN has increased enormously since 1924 accord, isn’t it?

    I remember reading in a newspaper that most of the Chamarajanagar district was forest area during that time.

    Why should not you the team with permission from the state govt. put all the docs. from 1799 online?(or at least, the ones that are in public domain!)

    C’mon, we have paid for it! Want volunteers to scan and upload them?

  20. Brijesh Kalappa Says:

    I am deeply saddened by the continuing personal attacks on me by persons like Rohit Biddappa, whom I have never encountered in my life. The reason that he is being egged on by my friend and former colleague Deepti, is unknown to me. I have the highest regard for Deepti, who I rate very highly as an Editor. Why she had to term me as a small time reporter baffles me. I was not aware that there was indeed a position as a ‘small time’ reporter. All celebrated editors have begun their careers as ‘small time’ reporters, there have been two Prime Ministers of this Country who have been ‘small time reporters’. A reporter, is not small time- he is the life source of a newspaper, which will go down under, if not for him. He is as big time as can be. I deeply respect the profession of journalism and I am extremely proud for having been a journalist. The journalist is the fourth pillar of a fine and bustling democracy. It is strange that Deepti had to trample upon and insult a profession as proud as journalism
    I am a proud Kodava. I have stated publically at gatherings in Coorg that a community as marginalized and ignored as the Kodavas have to stand united at all times. It pains me that Rohit Biddappa, had to make these highly disparaging, unjustified and scandalously false statements despite being a Coorg.
    I do not own a house in Bangalore, Delhi or any part of this world. Mr. Biddappa, who prefers not to disclose his full name on Churmuri is welcome to provide evidence of any house that I have /had in any part of the world. I am reported to have received Rs. 31,00,000/- as fee in this dispute for work done over a period of 4 years. A third of it is deducted at source. A fee of around 20,00,000 divided over a four year period would be approximately Rs. 40,000 per month. Would not even the most average techie earn that much?
    I have worked with J.B. Dadachanji and Co, a firm which invited people to join it. The firm has handled every historic litigation that has ever been fought in this country including the Keshavananda Bharathi, Bank Nationalisation, Privy Purses or Smt. Indira Gandhi’s election petition. I have had the privilege of being the only chamber junior of Kapil Sibal, one of the foremost Senior Counsel of this country. I joined the Cauvery Dispute at the recommendation of Mr. Fali S Nariman. Virtually all Senior Advocates of the Supreme Court know me and can certify to my competence. Yet Mr. Biddappa dubs me as someone who knows nothing, but is in the team owing to proximity to politicians.
    For those who do not know him- Mr. Nariman is far from being a shit-head, as he has been described by someone who has poor knowledge of the legal process and key personalities involved. Mr. Nariman is 80 years old. He is deeply revered by the bar and the bench alike for his honesty, sagacity and deep knowledge of constitutional law. He is respected the world over and is the only Indian recipient of the Justice Prize- the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for lawyers. Recently, when he visited Calcutta, the sitting Chief Justice of India insisted on carrying his travel bag, in full view of other Judges of the Supreme Court, as a mark of respect for a living legend of law. It hurts deeply when someone as respected and aged as Mr. Nariman is addressed as a shit- head.
    A gentleman, who is clearly another avatar of Rohit Biddappa is presently keen to have the entirety of the material on-line. I hope he understands that some of the documentation is sensitive and confidential.
    Now, with advances in technology, it is easy to track entities who desire to leave no trace of themselves. I would request you to kindly desist from making uncharitable, uncalled for comments which have no concern for you.
    I would further request Churumuri, which has earlier described me as one of the gems of the Kodava Community to kindly put a halt to these despicable comments. Enough is enough..

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