Highlighting the issues relating to security and safety of people along the borders of the country, the Supreme Court Wednesday suggested that states should refrain from creating “border inside the border” by fighting over their territorial boundaries.
“We already have enough problems on our border. Don’t create another border in the country,” observed a bench of Justice T S Thakur and Justice Kurian Joseph as it asked states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland to avoid divisive fight over boundary disputes.
On being told by the Arunachal Pradesh counsel that people were being killed over state boundaries, the bench responded: “We find it very disturbing. If we find any apprehension of danger to peace, we may ask Government of India to intervene to ensure that peace is maintained.”
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Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Assam, furnished satellite imaginary to claim that the border was being re-drawn every day, while Raju Ramachandran, representing Arunachal Pradesh, contended that everyday people were being killed in the border areas. Ramchandran also urged the court to direct the Centre to make its stand clear in the proceedings.
The court, however, adjourned the matter, directing all the state governments to file their additional documents within 6 weeks and be prepared for final arguments.
Meanwhile, the bench also questioned if border disputes between states could be resolved through a judicial order, and suggested mediation was a more appropriate mechanism.
The matter has been pending in the Supreme Court since 1989 when Assam filed a suit against Nagaland, which was carved out of Assam by a 1962 Act of Parliament. Assam had also filed a similar suit against Arunachal Pradesh to demarcate the boundaries.
Officially, Assam and Nagaland share a 434-km boundary after the latter was carved out as an independent state in 1963. However, Nagaland has been allegedly encroaching on vast swathes of land in the upper Assam districts of Sivasagar, Jorhat and Golaghat since then.
The top court had also appointed a local commission for identification of the boundaries of Assam-Nagaland and Assam-Arunachal Pradesh.
By its order in August 2010, the court directed that apart from continuation of the local commission, possibility to resolve the issue through mediation may also be explored and for this purpose appointed two co-mediators. The reports have been submitted to the court now.