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How are Inter-State Disputes Resolved in India?

Dec 30, 2022

How are Inter-State Disputes Resolved in India

Today’s edition of our Current Affairs will comprise a discussion on How are Inter-State Disputes Resolved in India?. Read further to upgrade your UPSC CSE knowledge and also understand the topic’s relevance to the UPSC syllabus.

For Prelims: Indian Polity and Governance

Inter-State Disputes, Article 131 of the Constitution, Article 263 of the Constitution, the Sarkaria Commission 1988, Mahajan Commission, North East Frontier Tracts in 1915, Inter-State Council 

For Mains: GS Paper II- Issues and Challenges Pertaining to the Federal Structure

About the Resolution of Inter-State Disputes, Methods in Constitution for Inter-state disputes Resolution, About the Maharashtra-Karnataka border dispute, Other inter-state disputes in India, Inter-State Council 


Recently the Inter-state disputes again came into the news due to the intensifying border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka.

Probable Question

Constitutional mechanism to resolve the inter-state water disputes have failed to address and solve the problems. Is the failure due to structural or process inadequacy or both ? Discuss. (200 words) (PYQ 2013)

About the Maharashtra-Karnataka border dispute

  • The state's boundaries were redrawn on linguistic lines as per the States Reorganisation Act of 1956, and Belagavi became part of the erstwhile Mysore state.
  • Maharashtra claims that parts of Belagavi, where Marathi is the dominant language, should remain in Maharashtra.
  • In October 1966, the Mahajan Commission recommended that Belgaum and 247 villages remain with Karnataka. This was rejected by Maharashtra and it moved to the Supreme Court in 2004.

About the Resolution of Inter-State Disputes

Cooperation of both sides 

  • Normally issues between states are resolved with the cooperation of both sides, in which the Centre works as a facilitator or a neutral mediator.
  • For instance, in the recent Maharatra-Karnataka dispute the Union Home Minister asked them for a 6-member team to address their boundary disputes.

New Law 

  • In case the issues are resolved amicably, Parliament can bring a law to alter state boundaries.
  • For example, the Bihar-Uttar Pradesh (Alteration of Boundaries) Act of 1968 and the Haryana-Uttar Pradesh (Alteration of Boundaries) Act of 1979.

Also Read: Constitution of India: Complete list of Articles (1-395) and Parts (1-22)

Methods in Constitution for Inter-state disputes Resolution

Judicial redressal

  • The Supreme Court in its original jurisdiction decides imputes between states. 
  • Article 131 of the Constitution reads: Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the Supreme Court shall, to the exclusion of any other court, have original jurisdiction in any dispute:

1.between the Government of India and one or more States; or

2.between the Government of India and any State or States on one side and one or more other States on the other; or

3.between two or more States, if and in so far as the dispute involves any question (whether of law or fact) on which the existence or extent of a legal right depends. Provided that the said jurisdiction shall not extend to a dispute arising out of any treaty, agreement, covenant, engagement, and or other similar instruments which, having been entered into or executed before the commencement of this Constitution, continues in operation after such commencement, or which provides that the said jurisdiction shall not extend to such a dispute

Inter-state Council

  • In 1988, the Sarkaria Commission suggested that the Council should exist as a permanent body, and in 1990 it came into existence through a Presidential Order.
  • Article 263 of the Constitution gives powers to the President to set up an Inter-state Council, which is envisaged as a forum, for the resolution of disputes between states. 
  • Article 263 of the Constitution: Provisions with respect to an inter State Council if any time it appears to the President that the public interests would be served by the establishment of a Council charged with the duty of:

1.inquiring into and advising upon disputes which may have arisen between States;

2.investigating and discussing subjects in which some or all of the States, or the Union and one or more of the States, have a common interest; or

3.making recommendations upon any such subject and, in particular, recommendations for the better coordination of policy and action with respect to that subject, in shall be lawful for the President by order to establish such a Council, and to define the nature of the duties to be performed by it and its organisation and procedure.

  • In 2021, the Centre reconstituted the Inter-state Council and the body now has 10 Union Ministers as permanent invitees. 
Composition of Inter-state Council
Prime Minister Chairman

Chief Ministers of all States Members

Chief Ministers of Union Territories having a Legislative Assembly and Administrators of UTs not having a Legislative Assembly and Governors of States under President’s Rule(Governor’s Rule in the case of J&K) Members

Six Ministers of Cabinet rank in the Union Council of Ministers to be nominated by the Prime Minister Members

Four Ministers of Cabinet rank as Permanent invitees Members

Other inter-state disputes in India

In 2015, the Centre said in a reply to Parliament, that there are border disputes mostly arising out of claims and counter-claims over territories between: 

  • Assam-Meghalaya: Assam and Meghalaya have a longstanding dispute in 12 stretches of their 884-km shared border.
  • Assam-Nagaland: Many territorials such as Golaghat district, Jorhat district, and Sibsagar district in the Disputed Area Belt (DAB) are claimed by Nagaland.
  • Assam-Mizoram: It is a 150-year-old border dispute between the two states.
  • Assam-Arunachal Pradesh: The dispute dates back to 1873 and announced the “inner line” regulation, demarcating an imaginary boundary between plains and the frontier hills, which were later designated as the North East Frontier Tracts in 1915. 
  • Odisha and Andhra Pradesh: There dispute is over Kotia gram panchayat since 1960. Disputes pertain over 21 villages in Kotia gram panchayat.

News Source: The Indian Express


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