Amaravati: Andhra Pradesh High Court on Thursday sentenced four serving IAS officers and one retired IAS officer to jail for contempt of court. The jail term varies from one week to one month. They have also been asked to pay fine. The fine ranges from Rs 1,000 to Rs 1 lakh.
Justice Battu Devanand sentenced former IAS officer Manmohan Singh, who was the principal secretary (revenue) in 2017, to four weeks of imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 1,000.
Principal secretary (finance) Shamsher Singh Rawat has been sentenced to one month in jail and fined Rs 2,000. Former collector of Nellore district Revu Muthyala Raju was sentenced to two weeks imprisonment and fined Rs 1,000.
Another former collector of Nellore MV Seshagiri Babu and the present collector NV Chakradhar were sentenced to two weeks jail and fined 2,000 each.
The High Court, however, allowed the officials to appeal the verdict within one month, during which period the jail term would be suspended.
The court said petitioner T. Savitramma should be paid compensation out of the salaries of these officers.
The case pertains to a petition filed by a farmer from Erragunta in Venkatachalam mandal of Nellore district, Tallapaka. In 2017, Savitramma approached the court seeking compensation for her land which was taken over by the government.
The officers landed in trouble because of the inordinate delay in paying a compensation of Rs 39 lakh to acquire three acres of Savithramma's land at Kanupuru Bit-II.
The land was part of 10 acres acquired by the government in 2015 to construct a building for the National Institute for the Mentally Handicapped at Venkatachalam.
The high court had directed the government to pay compensation for the land within three months. However, the officials ignored the court order. The woman approached the court in February 2017, after she failed to get the payment or proper response from revenue officials.
The court asked the respondents to file their counters and the case came up for hearing before Justice B Devanand.
The compensation amount was paid to Savitramma on March 3 this year. Justice Battu Devanand said the compensation was paid to the petitioner four years after the contempt petition. The court felt that it was a fit case for punishment for the contempt of court. The case against the other officers including then CCLA Anil Chandra Punetha and the local tahsildar was dismissed.
Contempt notices had been served to the officials earlier for failing to pay compensation in spite of the court orders
While Mutyala Raju and Mr. Seshagiri Babu were Collectors of Nellore district, Manmohan Singh was Principal Secretary (Revenue) and Imtiyaz was the Joint Collector at that time. Savitramma argued that the land was allotted to the erstwhile National Institute for the Mentally Handicapped (NIMH) for the construction of its regional center without being compensated as per rules.
Moreover, when the matter was pending, the Mandal Revenue Officer (MRO) issued a notice seeking an explanation within 15 days as to why her Patta should not be canceled due to its non-cultivation.