Maharashtra wants to better its suit on boundary row with Karnataka

February 18th, 2009 - 9:56 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 18 (IANS) The Maharashtra government Wednesday moved the Supreme Court to amend its lawsuit on its border dispute with Karnataka to better its claim for transfer of 865 villages and several towns inhabited by over 2 million Marathi-speaking people in three districts of the neighbouring state.
Admitting the Maharashtra government’s plea for consideration, a bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice J.M. Panchal and Justice Ashok Kumar Ganguly sought the stand of the Karnataka and Union governments within four weeks.

Maharashtra government had approached the Supreme Court earlier in 2004, contending that its attempts to resolve the 50-year-old dispute through talks between the chief ministers of the two states and through central intervention have yielded no result.

It had approached the apex court seeking transfer of around 865 villages and towns in Belgaum, Karwar and Nipani districts of Karnataka.

Through its application submitted Wednesday to the apex court, the Maharashtra government, quoting Article 3 of the constitution, contended that linguistic and cultural homogeneity and the wishes of the people of the affected area form the basic principles for re-organisation of the state boundaries.

In his plea, Maharashtra counsel Shivaji M. Jadhav told the court that principles of linguistic and cultural homogeneity, adopted as basis for re-organisation of states have also been judicially upheld if they do not happen to be in conflict with factors like national unity and security, geographical contiguity and economic and administrative convenience.

Advocate Jadhav said in his application that these principles were not properly followed during the creation of Maharashtra and Karnataka.

Jadhav said the towns and villages of Karnataka, being inhabited by Marathi-speaking people and being claimed by Maharashtra on the basis of linguistic homogeneity had been part of Bombay province before Independence and should have ideally gone to Maharashtra during its creation in 1960.

Responding to Maharashtra government’s 2004 lawsuit, the Union government had in 2006 filed an affidavit largely favouring Karanataka government’s stand on the border dispute.

In its affidavit to the apex court, the central government had submitted that Maharashtra had no valid reason to approach the Supreme Court to seek transfer of land inhabited by Marathi-speaking people in Karnataka.

It also submitted that the suit filed by Maharashtra on the boundary row was not maintainable in law and that it was highly belated and therefore barred by the law of limitation.

In its affidavit, the central government had largely endorsed Karnataka’s stand that it abide by the Mahajan Commission report, which it considered to be the final word.

But under pressure from strong Nationalist Congress Party allies and its own government in Maharashtra, the Centre had to withdraw its affidavit from the Supreme Court. It had told the apex court that it had taken an erroneous stand in the affidavit, which it wanted to rectify.

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