We have not infringed on disputed territory, says Andhra Pradesh

Odisha’s claims are grossly misconceived, it tells Supreme Court

The Jaganmohan Reddy government has rejected Odisha’s contempt petition in the Supreme Court accusing Andhra of “infringing” on disputed inter-State border villages to conduct polls.

The Andhra government said Odisha’s claims were “grossly misconceived”.

“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],” Andhra government, represented by advocate Mahfooz A. Nazki, clarified.

Old dispute

Odisha has sought contempt action against its neighbour for allegedly violating a status quo order of the Supreme Court in the inter-State border dispute.

The dispute concerns the territorial jurisdiction over certain villages, popularly called the ‘Kotia Group of villages’. The tussle had 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.

The court had steered the dispute into peaceful waters in 2006 by drawing an assurance from both States to maintain status quo.

Odisha has now returned to the Supreme Court, alleging that Andhra has broken its promise by notifying Panchayat elections in some of these villages.

However, Andhra, in its response, said the State had been holding elections in Ganjaybadra, Pattuchennuru and Paguluchennuru villages for long. They fall within the Araku parliamentary constituency and Saluru Assembly constituency.

“Elections have consistently been held to Lok Sabha and the State Assembly in these villages since the year 1952. So far as the local body elections are concerned, the State of Andhra Pradesh has conducted local body elections in these three villages since inception of the Panchayat Raj Act. Even in 2006 and 2013, elections were held to the panchayats concerned.” Andhra said the villages fall within its territory.

"There is, therefore, absolutely no contempt that is made out. The petitioner [Odisha] has failed to even refer to any document that entitles it to claim rights over the villages,” Andhra government argued.

No jurisdiction

It said Odisha was trying to raise a “substantive dispute” to claim the villages in the guise of a contempt petition.

“The Supreme 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… It is settled in law that what cannot be done directly can certainly not be done indirectly,” Andhra contended.

The court is scheduled to take up the case on February 19.

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