Assam-Meghalaya Border Agreement Back On Track After SC Order
Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala comprised the bench which ordered a stay on the Meghalaya High Court’s order stopping implementation of the pact..
GUWAHATI: The Supreme Court on Friday put a stop to the execution of the Meghalaya High Court order that stayed the implementation of a memorandum of understanding (MoU), which was signed by the Assam and Meghalaya chief ministers to settle the long- pending boundary dispute between the two states.
The Meghalaya HC order had stopped the two states from settling the boundary issue which had several contentious points and a redrawing of the boundary line was in the offing following the MoU signing. The HC order had cited objections by traditional chiefs and village headmen of the neighbouring state.
After today's order by the SC, steps for resolving the boundary issue is bound to gather momentum.
Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala comprised the bench which noted the submissions made by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and the lawyers who represented the states of Assam and Meghalaya, ordering a stay on the Meghalaya High Court's order.
The bench also took note of the submissions which stated that some of the areas covered under the MoU have not been benefitted from the developmental schemes of either state, as the old border dispute was festering. On the other hand, the alteration of the boundary between the two states, as laid out in the agreement, could not take place, the justices observed.
Earlier in the day, the top court had agreed to hear the plea by both Assam and Meghalaya, which challenged the Meghalaya High Court's order.
CJI Chandrachud had said that the bench would hear the plea, asking for three copies of the petition.
Later, after the hearing, notices were also issued by the SC bench to the original four people who had petitioned the high court to stay the execution of the MoU on several grounds, including the contention that the settlement was in breach of Article 3 of the Constitution.
Article 3 empowers Parliament to enact laws regarding the formation of new states and boundary alteration of existing states.
An interim stay was ordered on the physical demarcation by erection of boundary posts on the ground, as envisaged in the inter-state border pact, by a single judge bench of the Meghalaya High Court on December 9.
A division bench of the high court later refused to interfere with the HC single judge bench's order, which prompted the petitioners to appeal before the apex court.
An MoU was signed in March last year by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma and Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma, for demarcating the border in at least six locations among the 12 contested points, which had often raised tensions between people of the two neighbouring states.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah was present at the signing of the MoU by the chief ministers of Assam and Meghalaya, on March 29 last year.
Meghalaya was carved out of Assam as a separate state in 1972, but dispute arose in 12 border locations when the new state challenged the Assam Reorganisation Act, 1971.
The agreement last year has sought to resolve the pending dispute in six of the 12 places along the 884.9-km border between the two states.
The boundary dispute between Assam and Meghalaya has been flaring up now and then for the last 50 years. In recent times, however, efforts have gained pace to resolve it.