The Supreme Court on Monday allowed Maharashtra government to include additional grounds in its lawsuit over the boundary dispute with Karnataka filed in 2004 challenging the ceding of pre-dominantly Marathi-speaking areas to its neighbour.
A Bench of Justices J M Panchal and A K Patnaik granted four weeks to Maharashtra to amend its suit filed on March 29, 2004, in which it had challenged the inclusion of 865 Marathi-speaking villages in four districts of Belgaum, Karwar, Gulbarga and Bidar to Karnataka.
The Court said Karnataka government will have to file its response within eight weeks after the amended suit is filed. Senior advocates Harish Salve and Vinod Bobde, appearing for Maharashtra, submitted that some basic and settled principles like wishes of the people and linguistic criteria were not followed when these districts were ceded to Karnataka.
In the application filed through its advocate Shivaji Jadhav for amending the lawsuit, Maharashtra submitted that all theses factors were considered for demarcation of boundary between Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana, Maharashtra and Gujarat etc. Senior advocate Fali Nariman, appearing for Karnataka government, opposed the application for amending the six-year-old lawsuit.
Maharashtra government had earlier contended that the principle laid down for reorganisation of states under Article 3 of the Constitution has been violated. The boundary dispute between the two states have been pending in the Supreme Court for long with Karnataka demanding Kannada-speaking area from Maharashtra and vice-versa.
Maharashtra has maintained there was a "hostile discrimination" while settling its boundary dispute with Karnataka. The governments of the two states have taken opposite stands on the recommendations of the Mahajan Commission which was constituted by the Centre to settle the dispute.
Maharashtra had earlier demanded the disputed areas be given Union Territory status till the issue is decided by the court. The Centre had recently told the apex court that Belgaum district in Karnataka cannot be ceded to Maharashtra merely because it has a large chunk of Marathi-speaking people.
In an affidavit filed before the apex court, the Centre pointed out that reorganisation of states was carried out in 1956 and 1960 on the basis of various criteria and language was only one of them and not the sole factor.