SC notice to A.P. on panchayat polls issue with Odisha

Court, however, does not stay polls in disputed inter-State border villages for now

The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Andhra Pradesh government on a contempt petition filed by Odisha for notifying panchayat elections in disputed inter-State border villages despite a status quo order from the top court.

A Bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar gave Andhra a week to file its response to the contempt plea but did not stay the polls for now.

“Whatever consequences flowing from our orders will follow,” Justice Khanwilkar remarked.

The remark was in response to a submission by senior advocate Vikas Singh, for Odisha, that “tomorrow they plan to go ahead with the polls” in the disputed villages.

Advocate Mahfooz A. Nazki appeared for Andhra Pradesh.

The court scheduled the next hearing for February 19.

The dispute over territorial jurisdiction over 21 villages, popularly called as ‘Kotia Group of villages’, first reached the top court in 1968, when Odisha, on the basis of three notifications — issued on December 1, 1920, October 8, 1923 and October 15, 1927 — claimed that Andhra Pradesh had trespassed into its well-defined territory.

During the pendency of the suit filed by Odisha, the court, on December 2, 1968, directed both States to maintain status quo till the disposal of the suit and said, “there shall be no further ingress or egress on the territories in dispute, on the part of either party”.

The suit filed by Odisha under Article 131 (the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction over any dispute arising between the States or between the Centre and State) of the Constitution was finally dismissed on technical grounds by the court on March 30, 2006, and with the consent of both the States, it directed that status quo be maintained till the dispute is resolved.

Now, the Odisha government has sought contempt action against Andhra’s three senior officials — Mude Hari Jawaharlal, District Collector; Adityanath Das, Chief Secretary; and N. Ramesh Kumar, State Election Commissioner.

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