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Assam-Mizoram border firing: Gauhati High Court closes PIL

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The Gauhati High Court closed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed on the incident of firing causing death of 7 Assam Police Personnel and grievous injuries to more than 70 persons.

The petitioner had approached the High Court with the following prayers: 

“In the premises aforesaid, it is respectfully prayed that Your Lordships may graciously be pleased to admit this petition, call for records and issue a Rule calling upon the respondents to show cause as to why a Writ in the nature of Mandamus and/or a writ of like nature should not be issued transferring and handing over the investigation of the FIRs registered in the State of Assam and Mizoram to CBI and NIA i.e. the Proforma Respondent no. 9 and 10 under supervision of this Hon’ble Court. And upon cause and causes that may be shown by the parties, and after hearing the parties, be pleased to make the Rule absolute and/or pass any other order or orders as Your Lordships may   deem fit and proper.

AND 
Pending disposal of the instant petition, Your Lordships may be further pleased to call detailed reports from both Assam and Mizoram Govt. on the unfortunate incident of firing causing death of 7 (seven) Assam Police Personnel and grievous injuries sustained by more than 70 persons which includes civilian and Assam Police personnel and/or pass any other order or orders as Your Lordships may deem fit and proper.”

On notice being issued by the High Court, the respondent authorities have filed their affidavits and have brought on record the factual matrix arising in this PIL. As far as the issue involved in this PIL is concerned, which was the reason for the incident that occurred on 26.07.2021, is the border dispute between the State of Assam and the State of Mizoram.

Advocate Generals appearing for the State of Assam and the State of Mizoram stated that after the incident of 26.07.2021, some senior Cabinet Ministers of the Government of Assam personally visited the State of Mizoram to meet their counterpart and, after the meeting of the senior ministers of both the States, the tension at the border has eased out and normalcy has prevailed. 
It is also stated that all the trucks and other vehicles stranded at the border have started movement freely and the Ministry of Railway has also restored the railway track and presently there is free movement of railway in the State of Mizoram. It is further stated that even the Travel Advisory dated 29.07.2021, which was issued by the Government of Assam, has been withdrawn and presently there is free movement of vehicular traffic between the two States and no major incident of violence is reported after 26.07.2021. Learned Advocate Generals appearing for the State of Assam and the State of Mizoram have also stated that both the State Government are making endeavours to amicably resolve the inter-State border dispute between Assam and Mizoram.

The counsel for the petitioner has also agreed that tension at the border has eased out and normalcy has prevailed and that railway and vehicular traffic have started free movement. It is also not disputed by the learned counsel for the petitioner that no major incident of violence is reported after 26.07.2021.   

In view of the aforesaid, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Rashmin Manharbhai Chhaya and Justice Soumitra Saikia opioned  that the broader issue arising out of the PIL has been taken care of by both the respondent States of Assam and Mizoram and as on date peace has prevailed.   

R.B. Gohain, the counsel for the petitioner, further submitted that the State respondents should be directed to compensate the kith and kin of the victims by awarding appropriate compensation, especially of those who have lost their lives in the police firing. At this juncture, the Court noted that the wife of one of the victims has also filed a separate writ petition, wherein the petitioner has prayed for identical relief as prayed for in the present PIL. The counsel pointed out that the present PIL was filed before filing of the writ petition.   

In view of the aforesaid,the Bench deemed it fit to close the present proceedings with a clarification that disposal of this PIL shall not in any manner affect the rights of the petitioner in the writ petition.

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