Kotia Row: Odisha Files Second Contempt Petition In SC Against Andhra Pradesh

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Government on Wednesday filed a second contempt petition in the Supreme Court over the long-standing border dispute with Andhra Pradesh as the neighbouring State is again conducting elections in the villages under Kotia GP in Koraput district.

In the petition, filed by advocate Sibo Sankar Mishra on behalf of the Odisha Government, Vizianagaram Collector & District Magistrate, Mude Hari Jawaharlal, and others have been named as opposite parties.

As per the petition, the Odisha Government had filed an instant contempt petition on February 10, 2021 alleging the contemnors have willfully and deliberately violated the Supreme Court’s order of December 12, 1968 and judgment of March 30, 2006 – titled State of Orissa Vs State of Andhra Pradesh.

The contemnors firstly attempted to violate the undertaking given to the apex court by conducting election to the local body on February 13, 2021. Therefore, Odisha Government on urgent basis had filed the instant contempt petition on February 10, 2021. While the case was mentioned before the Court of the Chief Justice on February 11, 2021 it was taken for hearing on February 12, 2021.

As Odisha Goverment had prayed for ex-parte stay order seeking stay of proposed local body election in three village falling under its territorial and administrative jurisdiction, the Supreme Court orally observed that in case the alleged contemnors proceed to violate the undertaking given to the court, consequences will follow.

Despite the observation of the apex court, the contemnors went ahead with the schedule election, establishing polling booths in the dispute villages. One of the polling booth was also established in an under-construction church. That’s how the contemnors instead of purging the contempt, wilfully perpetuated the contempt.

The petition further read, “Having deliberatley violated the solemn undertaking during the pendency of this contempt proceedings, the contemnors are now again precipating the situation in the disputed area.”

Odisha Government mentioned that the State Election Commission of Andhra Pradesh has issued a notification on April 1, 2021, to conduct election in Mandal Parishad Territorial Constituency (MPTC) and Zilla Parishad Territorial Constuency (ZPTC) elections in the State.

The local authorities in pursuance of the said notification are now trying to repeat their contumacious conduct in contempt of the apex court for the second time by proposing to establish booths in the territory of Odisha.

Apart from that, the local administration of Andhra Pradesh has been indulging in unfair practices of alluring the local villagers of the disputed villages to participate in the elections.

“This conduct of the contemnors constitute second contempt that too in an aggravated form, for which this Hon’ble Court may kindly take cognizance and initiate appropriate proceedings against them,” the petition added.

In view of this, the Odisha Government has sought the intervention of the Supreme Court to maintain the status quo by way of appropriate directions to the Government of Andhra Pradesh and its instrumentalities not to engage in any activity including conducting elections to Mandal Praja Parishad and Zilla Praja Parishad in the dispute areas of Kotia group of villages.

In the petition, the Odisha Government has prayed the Supreme Court to:

(A) Take on record the facts narrated in this application along with the documents and pass appropriate orders.
(B) In the event the contemnors conduct the election in the disputed area by violating their solemn undertaking given to the Court on 30.06.2006, second contempt proceedings may be drawn against the contemnors;
(C) pass appropriate orders directing the contemnors not to engage in any activity including setting up of election booths, deploying personnel and other support systems and allure or encourage, directly or indirectly, the villagers to participate in the election to Mandel Praja Parishad and Zilla Praja Parishad in the disputed areas of Kotia group of villages.
(D) Pass such other and further orders as the Court deems fit and proper in the interest of justice.