HYDERABAD: Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar has created a record of sorts, though for the wrong reasons, leading a group of officers facing the highest number of contempt of court cases in the Telangana High Court.
Recently, Chief Justice Hima Kohli categorically said that contempt of court is a reflection of the wilful disobedience exhibited by the executive on the judiciary. Contempt cases drew attention following the recent three-month imprisonment slapped on a collector while two other officers were given the option of deciding between imprisonment and social service.
As many as 324 contempt cases have been filed against Somesh Kumar since 2013. Rajeshwar Tiwari, former special chief secretary, revenue, follows the CS with about 120 cases. Some cases have been dropped as they later implemented the court orders, but most cases are still pending.
Though he becomes the de-facto respondent on behalf of the state government by virtue of his position as Chief Secretary, Somesh Kumar had faced or is still facing many contempt charges for “wilful disobedience” in his other capacities, including as GHMC commissioner before he took over as CS in January last year.
Inquiries by Deccan Chronicle revealed that the top brass of administration had to face contempt for not implementing orders relating to cases as small as sanction of financial assistance to patients from the Chief Minister Relief Fund. While some cases pertain to demolitions against court orders, others relate to inaction against court directives to demolish.
“The root-cause for contempt cases getting piled up is a lack of fear of getting punished,” says senior advocate R.N. Hemendranath Reddy.
Unfortunately, nowadays implementation (of court orders) has become an exception and violation is the rule of law, he said adding that the courts also should introspect on why they are losing respect.
Hemendranath Reddy, in a contempt case he filed on behalf of former badminton international Chetan Anand, secured a direction from Justice S.V. Bhatt to a tahsildar and a sub-inspector to rebuild the player’s sports complex spending Rs 45 lakh from their pockets.
Analysing the final outcome of contempt cases, Reddy said the appellate courts very rarely uphold single judges’ tough orders and either suspend or dilute the punishment. Data available with the Telangana High Court also revealed that even contempt cases have been pending for almost a decade now.
Senior officials on condition of anonymity however rue that they fall victim due to inaction of their political bosses or pressure from them. “In several cases, the decision has to be taken by the highest political authority and due to inaccessibility and lack of proper mechanism to address these issues, we are facing the music,” a senior official pointed out.