Despite no improvement on the ground over the Kotia territorial dispute between two neighbours Odisha- Andhra Pradesh, the Aug 17 face-off being the latest instance, eyebrows were raised when Odisha government's counsel informed the top court during a recent hearing that the matter is likely to be settled at the political level.
Significantly, Odisha with all gusto had filed a contempt petition in the Supreme Court only this February. The petition of the State then termed the alleged conferral of panchayat status to the three villages in Odisha and holding of elections there as a "grave constitutional crisis". The AP government has violated the top court order, the petition then mentioned.
But six months down the line, the frayed tempers of the State seems to have cooled. Virtually taking a U-turn, on August 30, during a hearing before the 3-judge bench of Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice JK Maheshwari, Odisha's counsel and senior advocate Vikas Singh requested for adjournment of the matter as "the States are likely to settle the matter."
Following this, the Apex Court bench adjourned the matter for a month and responded "Let it be resolved by political indulgence."
However, neither Andhra Pradesh nor Odisha government has announced any meeting plan either at the political or top official level as of today.
Kotia - Ground Scenario
- August 9 - Leaders of a fringe political party met the Parvathipuram Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) Project Officer and submitted a proposal to promote Telugu language in the disputed cluster villages of Kotia Gram Panchayat in Odisha. It has also suggested authorities to put up Telugu signages in 22 villages bordering AP.
- August 19 - Project administrator of Parvatipuram ITDA P Kurmanath led team reached Phatu Senari and Phaguna Senari villages to conduct 'bhumi puja' for several projects and, even, carried out a plantation drive.
- August 26 - Veterinary officials from Vizianagaram visited the disputed territories in Kotia panchayat to hold health camps for the cattle. Reports suggest the officials vaccinating 300 cattle there.
While the above instances show a lack of communication at the political level, the mention before the top court by Odisha counsel over the likely settlement between the two states has come under the scrutiny of political observers.
Kotia - Battle In Courtroom
- A joint survey done by Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and MP in 1942 had recorded only 7 villages of this Kotia gram Panchayat as revenue villages of Odisha.
- As the joint survey then had excluded the 21 villages, AP, post its re-organisation in the year 1955, laid its claims on the 21 villages first in 1964.
- Odisha moved SC in 1968.
- In 1988, the SC has passed an order asking to maintain status quo and had appointed the District Judge, Koraput as Commissioner to record evidence on the disputed territory on its behalf.
- The Commissioner to record evidence had submitted its report in the year 2000.
- 30 March 2006: SC passed a permanent injunction on the disputed area. And the Court citing its limitation under Article 131 of the Constitution had ordered that the Court couldn’t decide on the disputes of State boundaries.
- It said, “The matter will be resolved by the legislature only", which means the Apex Court had then clearly said that the solution lies in the jurisdiction of the Parliament.