Centre rejects Maharashtra demand on border areas
In a setback to Maharashtra government, the Centre has shot down its demand to merge certain Marathi-speaking border districts of Karnataka with the state.
The Congress led UPA government brushed aside the state claim that Centre had reorganised the areas arbitrarily in 1956.
In a decisive statement, an affidavit submitted by the Home Ministry, told Supreme Court that Belgaum, Gulberga and other border areas would continue to be in Karnataka as language was just one of the criterion for creating a State, but not the sole criterion for inclusion of the region in it.
In 2004 Maharashtra government moved SC challenging the “unconstitutional steps,” which Centre took five decades ago by merging Marathi speaking areas in Karnataka at the time of reorganization of States.
The affidavit read: “Both Parliament and the Union government had considered all relevant factors while considering the State reorganization Bill, 1956 and the Bombay Reorganisation Bill, 1960 and decided that villages, taluka, municipal areas, towns etc which were to be included in the concerned states.”
Centre’s affidavit, in reply to Maharashtra’s plea, said it was incorrect to state that 814 villages in Belgaum, Karwar, Bidar and Gulberga districts, which reportedly had majority of Marathi-speaking people, were wrongly merged in Karnataka.
The affidavit added that the transfer of certain areas to then Mysore (now Karnataka) was neither arbitrary nor wrong.
Union of India has requested SC to dismiss Maharashtra’s petition with exemplary costs.
Maharashtra has challenged the constitutional validity of certain sections of the States Reorganisation Bill, 1956 and Bombay Reorganisation Act and alleged that the Centre had exercised its power under Article 3 of the Constitution arbitrarily and unreasonably.
SC had directed both Karnataka and Centre in February 2009 to file their replies to Maharashtra government’s plea.