SC lifts interim stay imposed by HC on border agreement between Meghalaya and Assam
Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma and his Assam counterpart Himanta Biswa Sarma in March last year signed an MoU for demarcating the border in at least six of the 12 contested locations that are part of a lingering border dispute.
The Supreme Court on Friday lifted a stay imposed by the Meghalaya high court on a boundary resolution agreement between Meghalaya and Assam, saying that prima facie, it appeared that the high court did not give any reason for its ruling.
Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma and his Assam counterpart Himanta Biswa Sarma in March last year signed an MoU for demarcating the border in at least six of the 12 contested locations that are part of a lingering border dispute. Union home minister Amit Shah described the agreement as “historic”.
However, on December 8, the Meghalaya high court placed an interim stay on the pact till the next date of hearing on February 23 after four “traditional chiefs” of Meghalaya petitioned that the MoU was signed “without consulting or taking the consent of or involving the constitutionally recognised native chiefs and their durbars”. They also said that the pact violated Article 3 of the Constitution which empowers Parliament to make a law related to the formation of new states and alteration of the boundaries of existing states.
The high court order was challenged by the Meghalaya government in the Supreme Court. In their plea in the Supreme Court, the four Meghalaya petitioners said that tribal land was sought to be converted as non-tribal land by the MoU. “Prima facie it appears that the single judge has not granted reasons for granting the interim order. We are of the view that the interim order staying the MoU was not needed, particularly when no reasons were given while passing the order,” a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud said.
The court also issued notices to the four Meghalaya petitioners who had originally moved the high court against the execution of the MoU.
Meghalaya was carved out of Assam as a separate state in 1972, but the new state challenged the Assam Reorganisation Act of 1971, leading to disputes in 12 border locations.