Nellore: In a contempt of court case, the Andhra Pradesh High Court sentenced several IAS officers for jail for one week to one month and imposed fines ranging from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 1 lakh on Thursday. They had failed to pay compensation for a land acquisition several years ago, even after the high court had ordered for the payment.
The court of Justice Battu Devanand sentenced principal secretary to Revenue, Manmohan Singh, for 4 weeks’ jail and imposed a fine of Rs. 1000. Similarly, principal secretary to Finance, SS Rawat, was sentenced to one month jail and a fine of Rs. 2,000.
Former collector of Nellore, Revu Muthyala Raju, was asked to pay Rs. 1000 as fine and was sentenced to jail for two weeks. A fine of Rs. 2,000 was imposed on former collector of Nellore Seshagiri Babu and present collector Chakradhar Babu.
However, the court deferred implementation of the order for four weeks to enable the officers to file an appeal on the judgment.
The officers landed in trouble because of the inordinate delay in paying a compensation of Rs. 39 lakh in relation to acquisition of three acres of land at Kanupuru Bit-II belonging to one Tallapaka Savithramma at Venkatachalam in SPSR Nellore district. 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. This was not done. The woman approached the court in February 2017, after she failed to get the payment or a proper response from revenue officials for two years.
Surprisingly, again, officials failed to implement the order for almost a year, forcing the woman to file a contempt case in 2018.
The names of principal secretary, revenue, Manmohan Singh, principal secretary, finance, SS Rawat, then CCLA (chief commissioner, Land Administration) Anil Chandra Puneta, former district collectors of Nellore, Muthayala Raju, Seshagiri Babu and the present collector Chakradhar Babu, then RDO Haritha and tehsildar Somla Banvath had been included as respondents in the contempt case.
The court served notices to the officers, directing them to file counters. Justice Battu Devanand directed all the officials to be present before the court.
Meanwhile, officials made payment to Savithramma on March 3 this year. Taking a serious view of the paying of compensation for a land four years after the acquisition, the court observed that this is still a fit case to punish officials for contempt of court.
The court observed that top officials of Revenue and Finance and collectors of Nellore from time to time were responsible for the inordinate delay in paying the compensation.