Kotia row: Have not transgressed into Odisha territory, Andhra tells SC

New Delhi: Andhra Pradesh has told the Supreme Court it is administering its own territory and had not infringed upon territory of the neighbouring Odisha, which moved the court seeking initiation of contempt against its senior officials.

Contending that the Odisha government plea seeking action for contempt is not maintainable, the Andhra Pradesh government, in an affidavit, said: “It is most respectfully submitted that the State of Andhra Pradesh has not taken any step in violation of any Agreement/Direction. The state of Andhra Pradesh has been duly administrating its own territories and has not infringed upon the territory of the Petitioner.”

Odisha has sought contempt action against Andhra government officials for notifying panchayat polls in three “disputed area” villages, which it claims lies within its boundary. On February 13, the panchayat elections were held by Andhra Pradesh in the disputed areas.

The Andhra government said it has conducted local body elections in these three villages since inception of the Panchayat Raj Act. It insisted that Odisha government appears to be raising a substantive dispute in respect of these villages in the guise of a contempt petition.

“This court has already, vide 2006 judgment, categorically ruled that this court does not have jurisdiction to entertain such matters. The Petition is therefore grossly misconceived,” added the affidavit, seeking dismissal of contempt plea.

Andhra Pradesh told the top court that Odisha is seeking to achieve indirectly what it failed at in 2006, after the top court dismissed its suit on the ground that it was not maintainable under Article 131 of the Constitution.

It said that the top court was not at all influenced by the agreement by the parties in passing the 2006 judgment. “The Hon’ble Court categorically noted, after the dismissal of the suit, that it was merely recording the fact that parties had entered into a mutual agreement. Therefore, by no stretch of imagination, can it be stated that there was a breach of undertaking or that of any order/direction passed by this Hon’ble Court. The contempt petition is therefore liable to be dismissed on this ground alone,” the affidavit said.

On Friday, the top court granted four weeks to Odisha to reply to the Andhra Pradesh government affidavit.

A bench comprising Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari took note of the submission of senior advocate Vikas Singh, representing the Odisha government, who sought time to file its reply on the affidavit.

The villages under dispute are part of Pottangi taluka in Odisha’s Koraput district. There are 21 villages in the Kotia group, which are entangled in dispute. In 1968, the status quo order was passed by the top court and the same order is holding till date, the Odisha government contended.

“Administratively and otherwise as well, the state of Odisha has been in control of these villages throughout. However, of late, clandestinely the contemnors (Andhra Pradesh government) have entered into the impugned act of contempt by which the order of this court has been violated,” the Odisha government had said in its plea.


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