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Supreme Court Adjourns State Of Odisha's Contempt Plea Against Andhra Pradesh Over Kotiya Villages Dispute

Radhika Roy
19 Feb 2021 11:55 AM GMT
Supreme Court Adjourns State Of Odishas Contempt Plea Against Andhra Pradesh Over Kotiya Villages Dispute
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The Supreme Court on Friday adjourned by four weeks a contempt plea filed by the State of Odisha alleging that the former had taken over certain villages belonging to the former in violation of an order of the Apex Court.A Bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar considered the request for adjournment of Senior Advocate Vikas Singh, with Advocate Mahfooz A. Nazki, appearing on behalf...

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The Supreme Court on Friday adjourned by four weeks a contempt plea filed by the State of Odisha alleging that the former had taken over certain villages belonging to the former in violation of an order of the Apex Court.

A Bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar considered the request for adjournment of Senior Advocate Vikas Singh, with Advocate Mahfooz A. Nazki, appearing on behalf of Andhra Pradesh, having no objection to the same.

The matter has accordingly been adjourned

In the previous hearing, Senior Advocate Vikas Singh, appearing on behalf of the State of Odisha, alleged that local body elections were going to be held in the three villages which the Andhra Pradesh Government took over from Odisha violation a status quo order of the Supreme Court.

The Bench directed for the Petitioner to serve an advanced copy of the petition to the Standing Counsel for Andhra Pradesh, and for the latter to file a response to the same.

Singh had earlier mentioned the matter before the Chief Justice of India and had contended that it was "a grave constitutional crisis".

The contempt petition relates to Kotia group of villages which was a subject matter of an original suit filed by Orissa(as it was called then) in 1968 against the undivided state of Andhra Pradesh.

In 2006, the Supreme Court dismissed the suit as non-maintainable under Article 131 of the Constitution. However, the Court recorded in the order passed on March 30, 2006, an earlier undertaking given by both the states in 1968 to maintain status quo with respect to the dispute.

The Naveen Patnaik-led government of Odisha now alleges that Andhra Pradesh has violated this status quo order, which was passed on the basis of consent of both the parties.

The contempt petition, filed through Advocate Sibo Sankar Mishra, states that while issuing notification for local body election in Vizianagaram district last year, the Andhra Government "clandestinely roped in" three villages from the Kotia group of villages falling within Koraput district of Odisha and have included them in Vizianagaram district with new names. It is alleged that these notifications, issued on March 5, 2020 by the government under YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, were kept a "dead secret".

Thus, the allegation is that Andhra Pradesh has taken over three grama panchayats belonging to Odisha and have renamed them and added them to AP by violating the status quo order of the Supreme Court.

It is further alleged that Andhra Pradesh is going to hold elections in these new grama panchayats which have been snatched from Odisha. It is stated that the Odisha government got to know about the move of Andhra Pradesh to hold local body elections in these three villages only on February 2, when the local Tehsildar went for a field visit in Kotiya group of villages.

Odisha claims in the petition that these villages have always been its part administratively and that it has undertaken several developmental activities in the region over the years.

It is stated that elections for the Parliament, State Assembly and local bodies have been taking place in these villages since inception. There has been no impediment whatsoever legally or otherwise in conducting election either to the assembly, parliament or for the local body at any point in time created by the state of Andhra Pradesh and this is for the first time that the election have been sought to be held in the disputed villages by the AP Government.

The petition refers to the Electoral Rolls prepared by the Election Commission of India to argue that the voters of these villages fall within Koraput Constituency of Odisha.

"...it is abundantly clear that the state of Orissa have been administrating continuously the villages in subject apart from electing representatives for local bodies and assembly and parliamentary constituency. Therefore the attempt on the part of the contemnor to conduct election in the newly self-named three villages pertaining to the territory of petitioner state is nothing but a wilful attempt to sabotage the dictum of this Hon'ble Court", the petition states.

The petition urges the Court to issue contempt notice to Dr Mude Hari Jawaharlal IAS (Collector and District Election Authority, Vizianagaram), Adityanath Das IAS(Chief Secretary, AP) and Dr N Ramesh Kumar IAS(State Election Commissioner) for alleged violation of the order passed by the Supreme Court on March 30, 2006 which made absolute the undertaking given by both states in 1968 to maintain status quo over the Kotiya group of villages.


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