Published On: Fri, Jan 6th, 2023

Assam-Meghalaya border pact gets Supreme Court nod

New Delhi: In a vindication of Union Home Minister Amit Shah-led policy and hope for Assam and Meghalaya border dispute resolution, the Supreme Court today stayed the execution of a Meghalaya High Court order that put on hold the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by the chief ministers of the two states for settling their festering boundary dispute.

Supreme Court’s decision has now paved way for Assam and Meghalaya to move ahead with their MoU and resolve the border dispute

The Supreme Court’s decision has now paved way for Assam and Meghalaya to move ahead with their MoU and resolve the border dispute through mutual agreement. Both states are ruled by the BJP-led NDA.

A bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala noted submissions of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and the lawyers representing Assam and Meghalaya and ordered a stay on the order of the Meghalaya High Court.

The bench was informed that some of the disputed areas have been deprived of development and social welfare schemes and, moreover, the boundary between the two states has not been altered due to the agreement. The apex court also issued notices to the four people who had originally moved the high court against the execution of the MoU on various grounds including their contention that the settlement breached Article 3 of the Constitution.

Article 3 empowers Parliament to make a law related to the formation of new states and the alteration of the boundaries of existing states.

A single judge bench of the Meghalaya High Court had on December 8 ordered an interim stay on physical demarcation or erection of boundary posts on the ground following the inter-state border pact. Later, a division bench of the high court refused to interfere with the order of the single-judge bench, prompting the state governments to file an appeal in the top court.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma and his Assam counterpart Himanta Biswa Sarma had in March last year signed an MoU for demarcating the border in at least six of the 12 contested locations that often raised tensions between the two states.

On March 29 last year, the agreement was signed in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah by the chief ministers of Assam and Meghalaya. The pact sought to resolve the protracted 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 lingered for 50 years. However, efforts to resolve it have gained pace in recent times. Meghalaya was carved out of Assam as a separate state in 1972, but the new state had challenged the Assam Reorganisation Act, 1971, leading to the dispute in 12 border locations.

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