Telangana High Court awards jail term to Siddipet Collector, RDO

Justice M.S. Ramachandra Rao of Telangana High Court punished two top revenue officials with simple imprisonment ranging from three to four months, after holding them guilty of contempt of court in a case relating to acquisition of land for Mallannasagar reservoir.

P. Venkatrami Reddy, who served as Siddipet district Collector till August 31, 2018 and continuing in the post from June 10, 2019, was awarded simple imprisonment of three months. The judge also imposed a fine of ₹2,000 on the officer while instructing him to pay ₹25,000 to the petitioners towards costs within four weeks.

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

The jail term for the two officers was suspended for six weeks. Another officer Krishna Bhaskar, IAS, who served as Siddipet Collector from August 30, 2018 to June 9, 2019, was held guilty of wilful disobedience of the HC order in writ petition no. 19572 of 2018 along with the two other officials. Mr. Bhaskar, presently serving as Sircilla Rajanna district Collector, was imposed a fine of ₹2,000.

Mr. P. Venkatrami Reddy and Jayachandra Reddy were also held guilty of not complying with the interim order issued by the court in a contempt of court case pertaining to the writ petition.

In 2017, Telangana government issued notification to acquire land under Right to Fair Compensation, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act-2013 for the constrution of ‘Komaravelli Mallannasagar’ reservoir as part of Kaleswaram 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. They contended that the details of Mallannasagar project report in Telugu which they had sought were not furnished to them. Additional Advocate General J. Ramchandra Rao, appearing for the government, admitting that objections of the petitioners were not considered properly, requested the court to fix a schedule for furnishing material sought by the petitioners.

The HC allowed the writ petition setting aside the declaration and instructing the government to make available the information sought by the petitioners on or before July, 9, 2018. Subsequently, the petitioners filed a contempt of court case alleging that the court directions were not complied with by the officials.

After hearing contentions of the counsels of the petitioners and the government, the judge delivered verdict stating that the authorities had dispossessed the petitioners of their lands despite the interim orders issued by the HC.

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