Vijayawada: The Supreme Court on 12 February issued a notice to the Andhra Pradesh government on a petition seeking a contempt plea led by Odisha government alleging that the former had taken over certain Odisha villages in violation of an order by the apex court.

The Odisha government, while moving the petition in the Supreme Court, said that the AP notification amounts to "invading" its territory.

The Odisha government has sought contempt of court proceedings against AP for violation of status quo agreed upon by the two states more than five decades ago.

The plea comes in light of the upcoming Panchayat polls in Andhra Pradesh with the State Election Commission proposing to hold the polls in three contested villages on 13 February and 17 February.

It may be recalled that both Andhra Pradesh and Odisha have been at loggerheads over the jurisdiction pertaining to the Kotia gram Panchayat, which comprises 28 villages for the past few decades. The AP government has been claiming that the villages come under the Vizianagaram district limits, while the Odisha government has been claiming that they come under the Koraput district.

The Naveen Patnaik government, while seeking an urgent listing of their contempt plea, had cited that the officials of the southern state were "willfully violating" the status quo passed by the court in the original suit. It also sought punishment for them for having committed contempt of court.

A Bench headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar heard the matter and directed advocate Mahfooz A. Nazki, appearing on behalf of Andhra Pradesh, to give a response to the plea. The matter will now be listed on 19 February. On Friday's 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 in violation of a status quo order of the Supreme Court.

The top court had on December 2, 1968, directed both the states to maintain status quo till the disposal of suit and said, "there shall be no further ingress or egress on the territories in dispute, on the part of either party".

The contempt petition relates to Kotia group of villages which was a subject matter of an original suit led 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 the 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 the consent of both parties.

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 2 February, when the local Tehsildar went for a visit in Kotiya group of villages.


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