Hyderabad: Telangana High Court on Tuesday sentenced Siddipet Special Deputy Collector and two other senior officers to three-month simple imprisonment for contempt of court in a case relating to the acquisition of land for Mallannasagar reservoir.

Justice M.S. Ramachandra Rao of Telangana High Court awarded three months simple imprisonment to P. Venkatrami Reddy.

Reddy served as Siddipet district Collector till August 31, 2018. On June 10, 2019, he was again posted as Siddipet district Collector, which he continues to hold till now.

The judge also slapped a fine of Rs 5,000 on the officer while instructing him to pay Rs 25,000 to the petitioners towards costs within four weeks.

The judge also awarded four months simple imprisonment to Jayachandra Reddy, Special Deputy Collector Land Acquisition Kaleshwaram project cum Revenue Divisional Officer of Siddipet. He was fined Rs 2,000 and also directed to pay Rs 50,000 to the petitioners towards costs.

The jail term for the two officers was suspended for six weeks.

Krishna Bhaskar, IAS, who served as Siddipet Collector from August 30, 2018, to June 9, 2019, was held guilty of willful disobedience of the HC order along with the two other officials. Bhaskar is presently serving as Sircilla Rajanna District Collector. He was fined Rs 2, 000.

Justice M.S. Ramachandra Rao was hearing the contempt petition filed by Gandla Thirupati and another person from Vemulaghat village of Thoguta Mandal in Siddipet district.

The petitioners complained that the interim orders issued by the court on land acquisition for the Mallanna Sagar project were not heeded to by these officers. The petitioners said the officers were responsible for the eviction of the petitioners from their land without complying with the procedure.

In 2017, the Telangana government issued a notification to acquire land under the Right to Fair Compensation, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act­ 2013 for the construction of Komuravelli Mallannasagar reservoir as part of Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Scheme with a storage capacity of 50 TMC of water.

A declaration and award inquiry notice too were issued subsequently. Nearly 15 persons of Vemulaghat and surrounding villages had filed a writ petition in the HC stating that the objections they had raised were not taken into consideration. They wanted the declaration to be set aside.

The court observed that despite the interim order issued in December 2019, not only were the petitioners dispossessed from the land, but the nature of their land was also changed. The judge directed the two officials to initiate fresh proceedings and pay the petitioners compensation, relief and rehabilitation benefits by strictly following provisions of the Right to Fair Compensation, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 within four months.

The court also ordered that an adverse entry be recorded in the two officers' service records for their willful disobedience of its orders.

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