NEW DELHI, Sept 18 � Amidst escalating tension on Assam-Nagaland border, the Chief Secretaries of the two States met today, albeit in keeping with the Supreme Court�s direction to resolve the over two-decade-old boundary dispute through mediation.
Today�s meeting that turned out to be a day-long affair was attended by Chief Secretaries of both the States, representatives of the Home Ministry, besides the two mediators. The delegation from Assam included Chief Secretary Naba Kumar Das, Home Commissioner Jhisnu Barua, and security advisor to the Chief Minister, G M Srivastava, among others.
The meeting went into the progress of the process and examined whether it would be possible to resolve the dispute through mediation. Assam Government officials were tight lipped and declined to divulge what transpired at the meeting.
A Division Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices Markandey Katju and Justice T S Thakur had on August 22 passed an interim order on an original suit filed by Assam in 1988 against Nagaland. The Apex Court had selected a two-member team comprising senior advocates Sriram Panchu and Nirjan Bhat to examine the border dispute case between the two states, appointing them as mediators to examine the 22-years-old border dispute.
Senior advocates Panchu is from the Madras High Court and Bhat from Gujarat High Court.
The Bench had asked the co-mediators to submit a preliminary report after three sittings, the first of which was to be held here today, before reporting back to the Court.
The Apex Court had ruled that if it received a positive report, the tenure of the co-mediators may be extended.
The Bench had further ordered that the two co-mediators could select the experts in the mediation, besides directing the Union Home Ministry to depute a representative and the Chief Secretaries of Assam and Nagaland to be associated with the process of mediation.
After hearing both the sides, the Bench underlined the need to resolve the border dispute between States through mediation.
The dispute was over the boundary between Assam and Nagaland, which was carved out of Assam through a 1962 Act of Parliament.
In the two suits, the Supreme Court appointed, in September 2006, Justice SN Variava, a retired Supreme Court judge, to head a commission to identify the boundaries of Nagaland, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
At that time, the court made it clear that it was not a boundary commission as postulated in the Constitution but only a local commission.