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Karnataka prepares legal counter to Mahrashtra's amended plea on Belgaum

July 13, 2010 12:42 IST

Even as the border dispute between Karnataka and Maharashtra heats up, the former is all set to file its reply before the Supreme Court soon.

Sources in the Karnataka legal team who are working on the reply have already begun drafting the same, say that language is just one way of determining the reorganisation of states per se.

There has been a long-standing border dispute between the two states. While Karnataka holds on to Belgaum claiming it to be its, Maharashtra on the other hand says that since a large part of the population is Marathi-speaking, this part of Karnataka should be handed over to them. The Maharashtra government had, on March 29, 2004, filed a suit under the States Reorganisation Act 1956 before the Supreme Court challenging the inclusion of 865 Marathi-speaking villages in Belgaum, Karwar, Gulbarga and Bidar in Karnataka.

The dispute has once again been in the headlines following the Centre filing an affidavit in the case stating that language was never the sole determinant behind the reorganisation of states and that Maharashtra had no claim over Belgaum, and there have been violent protests over the issue. Maharashtra has even withdrawn their state bus service to this part of Karnataka fearing trouble.

The legal fraternity representing Karnataka, however, states that the issue is a case of political doctrine and the courts should stay away from it.

"The tone in which Maharashtra speaks is clearly invalid, and they cannot fight the case on the ground that this region should belong to them just because of the language factor," sources in the Karnataka legal team working on the reply said.

Karnataka also relies heavily on the stance of the Union government that language is just one of the factors to determine the reorganisation of a state, but also adds that this is 'not the whole and sole factor.'

Further, its reply goes on to say that there are a lot of people in the Belgaum region who are bi-lingual, and therefore it is just a fact that if a person speaks one language, it does not mean that he or she has a right to live in a state that has the dominant language.

In other words, the Marathi-speaking population of Belgaum cannot say that they should be given the right to live in Maharashtra. Karnataka, however, goes on to add that the people are entitled to speak in any language that they want, but no other state has the right to shove a language down a person's throat and insist that he or she is part of the state that speaks the dominant language.

Karnataka also states that this is a well-settled matter and Maharashtra cannot make the claim when it even amends its plea in which it goes on to state that the Government of India is obliged to be a Parens Patriae (parent of the nation), and should act fairly.

The reply will be filed once Maharashtra amends its amended plea which the Supreme Court has allowed it to do, and that is likely to happen in another three weeks time, sources also point out.

Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru
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