When 2023 dawns, SC likely to hear long-pending Maha-K'taka border row case

When 2023 dawns, SC likely to hear long-pending Maha-K'taka border row case
Representational Pic

New Delhi, Dec 27: After the Maharashtra Legislature on Tuesday adopted a resolution unanimously expressing full solidarity with the Marathi-speaking people living in villages along the border with Karnataka, all eyes are on the Supreme Court which is likely to take up the Maharashtra-Karnataka border row in 2023.

The border dispute between the states dates back to 1960s, after the reorganisation of states on linguistic lines.

On November 30 this year, the apex court was scheduled to hear the arguments on the maintainability of Maharashtra government's petition challenging some provisions of the State Reorganisation Act, 1956 and demanding to merge 865 villages from five districts in Karnataka with Maharashtra. The matter was listed before the bench headed by Justice K.M. Joseph, but since the judges were busy in the constitution bench hearing in a matter related to Jallikattu, the border dispute could not be taken up then.

The resolution passed by Maharashtra Legislature said the government will pursue the legal battle before the Supreme Court to merge the 865 Marathi-speaking villages in Belagavi (Belgaum), Karwar, Nippani and other towns with Maharashtra. According to sources, the matter is likely to be mentioned before the Supreme Court for an early hearing.

Ever since the State Reorganisation Act was passed by the Parliament in 1956, Maharashtra and Karnataka have sparred over the inclusion of some towns and villages along the border. Justice Fazal Ali Commission was appointed in 1953 and the commission submitted its report two years later, and the 1956 Act is based on its findings.

The Maharashtra government moved the apex court seeking transfer of some villages in Karnataka to its side. However, almost two decades after the petition was filed, its maintainability remains challenged.

Maharashtra is of the view that the north-western district of Belagavi, which was part of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency, should be part of the state as it has a sizable Marathi-speaking population. The Maharashtra government also laid claim on some Marathi-speaking villages, which are currently part of Karnataka.

The resolution, which was moved by Mahrashtra CM Eknath Shinde and adopted by the House on Tuesday, said, "The state government remains firmly and with full commitment with the Marathi-speaking people from the 865 villages."

A week ago, the Karnataka Legislature too had passed a similar resolution.

Citing Article 3 of the Constitution, Karnataka had argued that the apex court does not have the jurisdiction to decide states' border issues, and only the Parliament has the power to decide matters of this nature.

However, Maharashtra referred to Article 131 of the Constitution, which says the top court has the jurisdiction in cases connected with disputes between the Centre and states.

Earlier this month, Home Minister Amit Shah had chaired a meeting with Maharashtra and Karnataka Chief Ministers over the border dispute. Shah had said that both sides have agreed to resolve the issue in a constitutional manner.

Urging the opposition parties to cooperate, Shah had said: "I urge the opposition parties in Maharashtra and Karnataka not to politicise this issue. We should wait for the outcome of the discussions of the committee formed to resolve this issue and the decision of the Supreme Court. I'm confident that the NCP, the Congress and the Uddhav Thackeray group will cooperate."

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