With their border dispute over the Kotia panchayat lingering for over 50 years, the Odisha government termed recent moves by Andhra Pradesh "an emerging constitutional crisis" and moved the apex court for initiation of contempt proceedings against its officials for violation of status quo.
Senior advocate Vikas Singh, representing the Odisha government, sought an urgent hearing on the matter. "A constitutional crisis is emerging on the border and in spite of the top court's order to maintain status quo, Andhra Pradesh is trying to take over Odisha's land," he said.
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," it said in its plea.
On March 5, 2020, the AP government issued a notification roping in three villages from the Kotia group of villages into its Vizianagaram district for the local body elections.
"Tactfully the contemnors converted these three villages of one gram panchayat falling under territory of Odisha to three different gram panchayats. The said three gram panchayat created by the contemnor were made part of the Salur mandal (of Vizianagaram)," the plea, filed through advocate Sibo Sankar Mishra, added.
The Odisha government cited that the top court in its final hearing in 2006, recorded the status quo undertaking given by both states while disposing of the suit. "Over the years, the petitioner state has taken many development initiatives in the said three villages and has built infrastructure like schools, police stations, roads, bridges etc. for the people of these villages," it argued.
The government added that these villages have been getting the benefits under various social schemes of the state, and the Census 2011 in these villages was conducted by the government too.
The Supreme Court is likely to hear the matter on Friday.