6 Jan 2023 9:30 AM GMT
Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice PS Narasimha and Justice JB Pardiwala on Friday stayed the order of Meghalaya High Court which had put an interim stay on the execution of the Assam-Meghalaya border pact, which was entered into between the two States subsequent to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) dated 29.03.2022. Solicitor General of...
Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice PS Narasimha and Justice JB Pardiwala on Friday stayed the order of Meghalaya High Court which had put an interim stay on the execution of the Assam-Meghalaya border pact, which was entered into between the two States subsequent to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) dated 29.03.2022.
Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, appearing for the State of Meghalaya submitted that the MoU signed by Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and his Meghalaya counterpart Conrad Sangma to resolve the long standing interstate boundary dispute, particularly in respect of six areas, was a decision taken in the political thicket. He said–
"When Meghalaya was separated from Assam, some boundary issues were decided politically. These are all decisions in the political thicket."
Per contra, Advocate Pragyan Pradip Sharma, appearing for the original writ petitioner submitted that the MoU in question did not have concurrence of the Parliament as per Article 3 of the Indian Constitution and required parliamentary sanction to be given effect. Unless the procedure specified in Article 3 is followed, the MoU could not be given effect, he submitted. He also added–
"Tribal land is being converted into non tribal land. There are attacks on citizens by police officers because process for demarcation is not followed. Let a copy of the petition be given to me, I'll address the arguments on Monday."
At this juncture, counsel appearing for the State of Assam submitted that–
"The MoU is not redrawing the land, it records the arrived position between two states. There was no boundary demarcating land between the States. See the example of Tarabari area. It will be with Meghalaya and some other area will continue to be with Assam. They have recognised the boundaries which have never been recognised. These villages were not receiving development benefits as they belong to neither Assam or Meghalaya."
CJI DY Chandrachud, while dictating the order, stated–
"Prima facie, it appears that the single judge has not furnished any reasons. Whether the MoU requires further consideration by Parliament is a distinct issue. However, the interim stay was not warranted. Notice shall be issued to respondents. Keep it after two weeks. Meanwhile there shall be stay on the order of the single judge."
Advocate Sharma also added that the issue was of a constitutional nature which involved tribal rights and issues pertaining to 6th schedule. Accordingly, he requested the Apex Court to decide the matter. CJI Chandrachud agreed to reflect on the same.
For context, the MoU was signed to resolve the long standing interstate boundary dispute, particularly in respect of six areas. The arrangement dictated Assam keeping 18.51 square kilometres of land, with Meghalaya keeping 18.28 square kilometres of land, for the 36.79 square kilometres of total land. Justice H. S. Thangkhiew passed the interim order on a plea moved by Tribal Chiefs, claiming that the MoU violates provisions of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution which relates to 'Administration of Tribal Areas' in NE States.
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