EXCHANGE OF TERRITORIES WITH BANGLADESH

The 100th Constitutional Amendment Act (2015) was enacted to give effect to the acquiring of certain territories by India and transfer of certain other territories to Bangladesh in pursuance of the agreement and its protocol entered into between the Governments of India and Bangladesh. Under this deal, India transferred 111 enclaves to Bangladesh, while Bangladesh transferred 51 enclaves to India. In addition, the deal also involved the transfer of adverse possessions and the demarcation of a 6.1 km undemarcated border stretch. For these three purposes, the amendment modified the provisions relating to the territories of four states (Assam, West Bengal, Meghalaya and Tripura) in the First Schedule of the Constitution. The background of this amendment is as follows:

  1. India and Bangladesh have a common land boundary of approximately 4096.7 kms. The India-East Pakistan land boundary was determined as per the Radcliffe Award of 1947. Disputes arose out of some provisions in the Radcliffe Award, which were sought to be resolved through the Bagge Award of 1950. Another effort was made to settle these disputes by the Nehru-Noon Agreement of 1958. However, the issue relating to division of Berubari Union was challenged before the Supreme Court. To comply with the opinion rendered by the Supreme Court, the Constitution (9th Amendment) Act, 1960 was passed by the Parliament. Due to the continuous litigation and other political developments at that time, the Constitution (9th Amendment) Act, 1960 could not be notified in respect of territories in former East Pakistan (presently Bangladesh).
  2. On May 16, 1974, the Agreement between India and Bangladesh concerning the demarcation of the land boundary and related matters was signed between both the countries to find a solution to the complex nature of the border demarcation involved. This Agreement was not ratified as it involved, inter alia, transfer of territory which requires a Constitutional Amendment. In this connection, it was also required to identify the precise area on the ground which would be transferred. Subsequently, the issues relating to demarcation of un-demarcated boundary; the territories in adverse possession; and exchange of enclaves were identified and resolved by signing a Protocol on September 6, 2011, which forms an integral part of the Land Boundary Agreement between India and Bangladesh, 1974. The Protocol was prepared with support and concurrence of the concerned state governments of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and West Bengal.

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