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Mains Answer Writing

28-September-2023

Q1) “Interstate border disputes, if not promptly and impartially settled, can transform into persistent issues that impede development and generate friction”. Highlighting the constitutional and legal framework to resolve interstate disputes, explain why Independent India has failed to resolve inter-state border disputes.

Answer:

The recent crisis between Assam-Arunachal Pradesh which led to the death of civilians on both sides shows that such issues if unresolved can lead to a threat to the security and stability of the region. Such legacy disputes not only hamper development and governance but also disturbs the nation-building process by breeding regionalism.

CONSTITUTIONAL AND LEGAL FRAMEWORKS TO RESOLVE INTERSTATE BORDER DISPUTES

  1. Article 3: Article 3 provides the Parliament power to alter the boundaries of any State. For e.g., the Bihar-Uttar Pradesh (Alteration of Boundaries) Act of 1968 and the Haryana-Uttar Pradesh (Alteration of Boundaries) Act of 1979.
  2. Article 131: Article 131 provides the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction in the interstate disputes. For e.g., the dispute between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh was discussed in the Supreme Court.
  3. Article 263: Under Article 263, an Inter-State Council is constituted to facilitate discussion and deliberation between States and provide an institutional framework for the resolution of inter-state disputes including border disputes.
  4. Article 262: Parliament can provide for the resolution of inter-state water disputes through the enactment of the law. This mechanism though seldom used can help in the effective distribution of rivers and other natural resources between States.
  5. State Reorganization Act, 1956: This Act provides for the establishment of Zonal Councils to facilitate discussion between States to settle boundary and border disputes.
  6. NITI Aayog Governing Council: The Governing Council of NITI Aayog is composed of the Chief Ministers and the Prime Minister. This allows them to discuss the emerging issues of the nation along with emerging interstate disputes including boundary issues.

REASONS FOR LITTLE SUCCESS IN THE RESOLUTION OF INTER-STATE BORDER DISPUTES

  1. Historical Reasons: The reorganization of States based on language in 1956 left several unresolved territorial adjustments. For e.g., the Belgaum region has a majority Marathi-speaking population but forms a part of Karnataka which is the reason for the dispute.
  2. North East Region: The issue of ethnicity and differentiation between the Hill and Plains is the main reason for the border dispute between these States. For e.g., there is a border demarcation issue over 123 villages between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh because of ethnicity.
  3. Complicated Process: Border dispute resolution is a very complex process and involves the resolution of boundary ambiguities, land records transfer, etc.
  4. Limited Scope of Article 131: The jurisdiction of the SC is limited in case of dispute arising out of treaties, agreements, etc. entered before the Constitution. This creates problems in the resolution of issues such as the Assam-Nagaland issue.
  5. Public Sentiments: Border disputes are connected with public sentiments and arise passion amongst people leading to chaos and disruption of public order.
  6. Dysfunctional Inter-State Council: ISC has remained largely dysfunctional with only 11 meetings in 33 years of its constitution in 1990.

WAY FORWARD

  1. Interstate border disputes can be resolved by proper dialogue between the States and through negotiations by the Centre.
  2. Making the ISC and Zonal Councils more functional in recommending resolutions for border disputes through negotiations and dialogue.
  3. Establishment of a Joint Border Commission consisting of members from all States.
  4. By conducting land surveys, assess ground realities and build confidence among the inhabitants of the States.
  5. The President of India through reference to the Supreme Court under Article 142 should take initiatives in resolution of border issues arising out of treaties, agreements before the commencement of the Constitution.

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