The Orissa High Court has directed the administration not to issue any final order on the formation of new districts without the permission of the court.
The court order came at a time when the Odisha government has initiated steps to upgrade Padampur sub-division in Bargarh district to a separate district as promised by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik during a by-poll last year.
In its order passed on Thursday, a division bench comprising Acting Chief Justice B R Sarangi and Justice M S Raman has stated that the government can continue its process of reorganisation of districts, but it cannot finalise anything without the consent of the high court.
The court was hearing a plea filed by Rairangpur Bar Association president Akshaya Kumar Mohanty with a prayer to declare Rairangpur in Mayurbhanj district as a new district.
“On the basis of the pleadings available on record, it appears that 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,” the court observed in its order.
As such, with regard to the power of formation of new districts, 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 reorganise the districts in the recent days, it said.
The court granted time to the advocate general A K Parija to obtain instructions in the matter.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik-led BJD had promised to create Padampur district in the run-up to the by-election there in December last year.
After winning the by-poll, in February, he had announced that Padampur will get district status within a year.
Apart from Padampur, people of Kantabanji, Titilagarh, Athagarh, Dharmagarh, Rairangpur and some other places have also been demanding separate districts.
At present, Odisha has 30 districts.
Meanwhile, opposition BJP and Congress blamed the BJD government for adopting a dilly-dallying approach on the issue.
BJP leader Pradeep Purohit alleged that the state government has betrayed the people of his constituency by giving false assurance to make Padampur a new district.
Congress Legislature Party leader Narasingha Mishra claimed the government has failed to give a reply to the court when the latter has wanted to know about the guidelines and procedure followed to form new districts.
Ruling BJD leader and government chief whip Prasanta Muduli said the administration has initiated the preliminary steps for reorganisation of the districts, which will be done as per Constitutional norms.