The Orissa High Court allowed the state government to proceed with the district reorganization process but restricted the issuance of any final orders without the Court’s approval.

A writ petition was filed seeking the establishment of a high-level committee to assess the requests for the creation of new districts in Odisha.

The Court noted that the state is planning to create additional districts without clear guidelines or principles, relying on arbitrary decisions by the government.

The Bench headed by Acting Chief Justice B.R. Sarangi and comprising Justice Murahari Sri Raman observed, “the State is going to make further districts without having any guidelines or principles and at the caprice and whims of the Government, new districts have been created. As such, with regard to power of formation of new district, save and except the report of the Justice Raj Kishore Das Committee in the year 1975 and the Cabinet Sub-Committee of 1991, nothing is made available or placed on record as to how to re-organize the districts in the recent days”.

Advocate S.K. Dash appeared for the Petitioner and Advocate General A.K. Parija with Additional Government Advocate D.K. Mohanty appeared for the State.

The Petitioner approached the High Court by way of a public interest litigation, seeking the formation of a high-level committee, chaired by a current or retired judge of the court, to examine demands for new districts in Odisha. The Petitioner contended that the government to consider the creation of a new district, specifically Rairangpur, based on historical neglect and a lack of adherence to criteria laid out by the Districts Re-organization Committee and subsequent Cabinet Sub-Committee.

Based on the available records, the Cout noted that the State is planning to create new districts without clear guidelines or principles. The government's decisions to form new districts appear arbitrary. Therefore, the Court granted the government the freedom to proceed with the reorganization process but restricted the issuance of any final orders without court approval. The Court emphasized the need for transparency and awaits instructions from the Advocate General.

Accordingly, the Court listed the matter for January 14, 2024.

Cause Title: Akshaya Kumar Mohanty v State of Odisha and others

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