Supreme Court stays High Court order on Assam-Meghalaya border agreement
On December 8, the Meghalaya High Court had put an interim stay on the agreement signed by the two states to resolve border disputes at six locations.
The Supreme Court on Friday stayed a High Court order on an agreement between Meghalaya and Assam on a border dispute, PTI reported.
On December 8, the Meghalaya High Court had placed an interim stay on a memorandum of understanding between Meghalaya and Assam to resolve border disputes at six of the 12 disputed locations. The stay was to remain in effect till February 23.
The agreement was signed by the chief ministers of the two states, Himanta Biswa Sarma and Conrad Sangma, on March 29, to end the disputes at these six locations. Home Minister Amit Shah had described the development as historic.
At Friday’s hearing, Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said that prima facie it seems that the High Court judge did not mention any reasons for staying the agreement, according to Live Law. “Whether the MoU requires further consideration by Parliament is a distinct issue,” he said. “However, the interim stay was not warranted.”
The Supreme Court issued notices to the respondents and said it will hear the case again after two weeks.
During the hearing, lawyer Pragyan Pradip Sharma, representing one of the petitioners, contended that the memorandum of understanding needed to have been sanctioned by Parliament in accordance to Article 3 of the Constitution. The provision allows Parliament to alter the boundaries of any state.
“Tribal land is being converted into non-tribal land,” Sharma told the court. “There are attacks on citizens by police officers because process for demarcation is not followed.”
However, the counsel for the Assam government said that the memorandum of understanding did not redraw any boundaries but only recorded the agreed position of the two states, according to Live Law.
“They have recognised the boundaries which have never been recognised,” the counsel told the court. “These villages were not receiving development benefits as they belong to neither Assam or Meghalaya.”
The two states are embroiled in a border dispute that started when Meghalaya was carved out of Assam on January 21, 1972, under the Assam Reorganisation Act, 1971. Disputes arose at 12 locations after Meghalaya challenged the law.
Assam is the only state with which Meghalaya shares an internal border.
An area of 36.79 square kilometres was disputed between the two states. According to the agreement signed on March 29, Assam will control 18.51 square kilometres of the land and Meghalaya 18.28 square kilometres.