Supreme Court puts HC order staying Assam-Meghalaya border pact on hold

CJI Chandrachud noted that the interim stay ordered by the Meghalaya High Court was “unwarranted” and directed that it be put on hold.

Supreme Court puts HC order staying Assam-Meghalaya border pact on hold
The Supreme Court today came down heavily on advocate Ashwini Upadhyay. (File Image)

The Supreme Court on Friday put on hold an order by the Meghalaya High Court which had ordered a stay on the execution of the Assam-Meghalaya border pact, which both states had entered into following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on March 29, 2022.

The matter was heard by a three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and also comprising Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala.

In its order, the court noted that the stay ordered by a single-judge bench of the Meghalaya High Court was “unwarranted” and directed that the order be put on hold.

Also Read: Assam-Meghalaya sign pact to resolve 50-year-old border dispute; Amit Shah says 70% row resolved

“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,” Live Law quoted CJI Chandrachud as saying.

The MoU signed between the two states in March last year was aimed at resolving the longstanding interstate border dispute in six areas. As per the arrangement, Assam keeps 18.51 square kilometres of land, with Meghalaya keeping 18.28 square kilometres of the 36.79 square kilometres of land.

The arrangement was stayed by the Meghalaya High Court on a plea moved by the Tribal Chiefs claiming that the MoU violates provisions of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution which relates to the ‘Administration of Tribal Areas’ in NE states.

Also Read: Meghalaya-Assam border violence: Six civilians, including forest guard, killed in Mukroh

The advocate appearing for the original petitioner argued before the Supreme Court that the MoU signed between the two states did not have the parliamentary sanction and hence cannot be given effect. He further alleged that tribal land was being converted into non-tribal land and that there were attacks by police officers since the demarcation is not followed.

On the other hand, the counsel appearing for Assam claimed that the MoU does not redraw the land but only records the position arrived at by the two states. There was no boundary demarcating land between the States. See the example of Tarabari area. t will be with Meghalaya and some other areas 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 nor Meghalaya,” he argued.

The counsel for the original petitioner also argued that the issue was of a constitutional nature involving tribal rights and issues pertaining to the Sixth Schedule. CJI Chandrachud heard the agreements by the counsel for the petitioner and agreed to reflect on the same.

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First published on: 06-01-2023 at 18:13 IST
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