Big relief for six IAS, IFS officers; Telangana HC quashes six month imprisonment order

Six top IAS and IFS officers have heaved a sigh of relief after Telangana High Court set aside the single judge order sentencing them to six-month simple imprisonment in contempt of court case.

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  24 Aug 2021 3:05 AM GMT
Big relief for six IAS, IFS officers; Telangana HC quashes six month imprisonment order

Hyderabad: Six top IAS and IFS officers have heaved a sigh of relief after Telangana High Court set aside the single judge order sentencing them to six-month simple imprisonment in contempt of court case.

A bench of Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy allowed the respondents to seek appropriate legal recourse if they were aggrieved by the earlier orders issued in 2010.

The officials, who were awarded imprisonment, include two IAS officers and two IFS officers.

On July 31, Telangana High Court sentenced Special Chief Secretary forests; Principal Chief Conservator of Forests; Chief Wildlife Warden; District Collector and additional collector, Ranga Reddy district, and divisional forest officer, to six months imprisonment.

A single-judge bench of the High Court gave the orders in a writ petition filed by Mohd. Sirajuddin and nine others claiming rights over 383 acres of land in Maheshwaram village of Rangareddy district. In 2009, a single judge bench had directed the six officials to take a final call on the acquisition of land for conversion into a Reserve Forest within six months' time.

As the orders were not implemented, the petitioners moved to the high court citing violation of the orders. After hearing the case, the court sentenced them to six months imprisonment and fined them Rs 2000 each.

The counsel for the officials informed the court that the state government had issued two orders in 2010 following the single judge order issued in 2009.

The counsel said the claim of petitioners along with the evidence produced by them was verified and it was found that the subject land was covered under the Land Ceiling Act. Plus the land had been declared as surplus land.

The counsel informed the court that the officials had complied with the orders and if the respondents had any grievance they should have taken appropriate legal recourse. Instead, after waiting for five years, they filed a contempt petition. This fact was also stated before the learned single Judge, but was overlooked, the counsel told the court.

The scope of the contempt petition is limited to pointing out willful breach/ default of compliance and not for pointing out events that occurred subsequent to the compliances made of the order passed.

"We are of the opinion that the contempt petition having been filed highly belated by the respondents, was not maintainable in the light of the limitation prescribed under Section 20 of the Contempt of Courts Act. The respondents ought to have sought appropriate legal recourse against the orders passed by the Divisional Forest Officer, if so aggrieved. The present appeals are accordingly allowed along with the pending applications, if any, and the impugned order of July 31, 2021, is quashed and set aside on the ground that the contempt petition filed by the respondents was barred by limitation. However, liberty is granted to the respondents to seek appropriate legal recourse, if aggrieved by the orders issued in April 2010 and June 2010," the division bench said.

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