Not following the court’s order proved to be a major mistake for four serving and one retired IAS officer who have been handed out varying jail terms for “willful disobedience” of the court order passed in February 2017. The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Thursday held all the five guilty of contempt.
The bureaucrats who have been convicted by the court include principal finance secretary Shamsher Singh Rawat, chief minister’s additional secretary Revu Mutyala Raju, SPS Nellore district collector KVN Chakradhara Babu and former collector MV Seshagiri Babu. Notably, Mutyala Raju had also previously served as collector of the SPS Nellore district. Retired bureaucrat Manmohan Singh, who was the then Principal Secretary (Revenue) in 2017, has also been convicted in the case.
The punishment IAS
Acting on a contempt petition filed by an agriculturist Tallapaka Savitramma of SPS Nellore district, Justice Battu Devanand pronounced the order awarding imprisonment terms to the bureaucrats. Rawat and Singh have been sentenced to one-month imprisonment while others have been sentenced to two weeks imprisonment.
This apart, a cost of Rs 1,000 has also been imposed on each of them. The petitioner’s lawyer C Vani Reddy said that the court, however, ordered the suspension of the sentence for a month to enable the convicted to go for an appeal.
The case IAS
Savitramma filed a writ petition in the high court in 2017 stating that her land measuring three acres was resumed by the revenue authorities and allotted to the National Institute of Mental Health without any notice or payment of compensation. In December 2016, the revenue authorities promised to pay compensation to her for the land and that was also reported to the Lokayukta, she said.
Justice A Rajasheker Reddy of the high court, on February 10, 2017, ruled in favour of the petitioner and directed the revenue authorities concerned to pay compensation to her within three months. In 2018, Savitramma filed a contempt case in the high court after the revenue authorities failed to implement the court’s order.
Earlier in June, Justice Devanand, while hearing the contempt case, observed that from the material available on record, the revenue divisional officer had submitted bills to the accounts office on July 6, 2020, but they were not cleared till March 30, 2021. “In the opinion of this court, nearly eight months delay occurred in the office of the Principal Accounts Officer in clearing the bills and making payment of compensation to the petitioner,” he had noted.
In August, the judge heard the arguments of the respondents and reserved judgment. The verdict was delivered on Thursday.
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