Amidst raging dispute between Karnataka and Maharashtra over Belgaum, the Centre has told the Supreme Court that linguistic criterion for resolution of boundary disputes between states would create practical problems and that it should be settled through mutual negotiations.
"Boundary dispute in any multi-lingual country are best resolved with mutual consent/agreement of the states concerned arrived at through amicable negotiations," the Centre said adding it was committed to facilitate negotiations between Karnataka and Maharashtra.
The Centre’s stand has been spelt out in a written statement filed by the Union Home Ministry in response to a civil suit instituted by Maharashtra seeking transfer of Marathi-speaking border areas of Karnataka including Belgaum to it.
It refused to admit Maharashtra’s claim that the then Home Minister GB Pant had assured the transfer of Marathi-speaking areas from the then State of Mysore (now Karnataka) to the State of Maharashtra.
The Centre said, "the language of the people is one among the several criteria for the inclusion of any area in a State. The Union Government as well as Parliament had considered all relevant factors during passing of the States Reorganization Act."
It sought to emphasize that "in the process of reorganization, a certain minimum amount of linguistic overlap is expected along the border areas."
The Centre said, "it is neither feasible nor desirable to demarcate the borders of villages, taluks and districts in manner that the people speaking one language can or may be retained in one state only."
Such a solution has severe practical problems and severe consequences, which have been succinctly laid out by the State Reorganization Commission in its 1955 Report, it said.
The boundary dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka recently made headlines after the latter held a special session of the state assembly in Belguam as part of its opposition to the former’s claim over the Marathi-speaking areas. Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister RR Patil had also made a visit to the Marathi-speaking areas of Karnataka.
Karnataka Chief Minister Kumaraswamy renamed Belgaum as Begavi and announced construction of a permanent Vidhan Soudha (legislative assembly) in the town where session would be held once in a year.