On a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Assam and Meghalaya regarding the demarcation of physical land boundaries between the two States, the Supreme Court lifted the stay imposed by the Meghalaya High Court.
The respondents in the appeal filed by the State of Meghalaya received notice from a bench consisting of Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud, PS Narasimha, and JB Pardiwala. The case was then scheduled for further hearing after a two-week waiting period.
"The interim order's justification by the sole judge is debatable at this point, and it is unclear if parliamentary approval of the MoUs is necessary. However, the temporary injunction stopping the MoU was not justified. Consequently, the single-interim judge's order is hereby stayed "the Judge ruled.
The MoU between the State governments and the goal of resolving their border issue in six areas was signed in March 2022. Both States agreed to give up land in the conflict areas as part of the agreement, which has been in the works since July 2021.
The physical demarcation and installation of posts under the land-boundary agreement had been put on hold by the Meghalaya High Court in December.
This was stated in a petition that several people had submitted.
The petitioners' argument before the High Court was that Meghalaya's surrender of territory—which included a significant amount of tribal land and villages—was made without consulting the autonomous bodies that were established under the constitution.
This, it was alleged, violated the petitioner's and the tribal people's fundamental rights as well as the Constitution's sixth schedule, which outlines the function of autonomous councils in the northeast.
As a result, it was urged that the MoU be annulled and that the States be instructed to adhere strictly to the sixth schedule before any future land exchanges of this nature.
The petition would be rendered infructuous and those impacted would be left without recourse if demarcations were physically made with boundary markers set on the ground under the MoU, according to the petitioner's counsel before the High Court.
The State government's legal representative had contended that because the petitioner's whereabouts had not been determined and the agreement would not result in an "irreparable loss," no interim orders were necessary.
After hearing from the parties, a High Court single judge temporarily halted the MoU, which prompted the Meghalaya government to file a petition with the Supreme Court. A division bench declined to get involved.
The Supreme Court accepted the Meghalayan government's appeal today after Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta requested an expedited listing of the case.
"What? An MoU was suspended by the High Court? Please call the files; after mentioning them, we'll discuss them "Judge Chandrachud commented.
The Solicitor General claimed that some border disputes had to be resolved politically when Meghalaya was separated from Assam during the hearing that started at 2:00 PM today.
The respondent (petitioners before the High Court), represented by attorney Pragyan Pradip Sharma, stated that the arrangement lacked parliamentary approval and that tribal land would be changed to those for non-tribal people.
When speaking on behalf of the State of Assam, advocate Shuvodeep Roy argued that the MoU was the result of mutual agreement among the States.
"Similar claims for Tarabari will be with Meghalaya, while other claims would remain with Assam. Boundaries are now finally understood, although they weren't until recently. Boundaries are just marked; they are not altered. Since these villages are not part of Assam or Meghalaya, they were not receiving development benefits "He gave in.
Sharma continued, "Attacks on Assamese people are occurring as a result of boundary conflicts. State of Assam concurs with SG Mehta's position."
The bench continued to stay the High Court judgement after hearing from the parties. After two weeks, the case will be heard once more.