Telangana HC slaps Rs 10,000 fine on CS for negligence

HC issued summons to him to appear on January 24 for disregarding its directions

HYDERABAD: The Telangana High Court on Wednesday slapped a fine of Rs 10,000 on Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar, who also holds the post of principal secretary for revenue, and issued summons to him to appear on January 24 for disregarding its directions.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice N. Tukaramji was dealing with a batch of 12 petitions filed in 2016 by around 1,000 persons whose land was acquired by the state government for various projects which include the Kaleshwaram lift irrigation scheme and some belonging to the TS Southern Power Distribution Company Limited.

The petitioners' grievance was that their land was acquired under GO 123, which was set aside by the court later, and other provisions without giving opportunity to them on fixing of rate of land compensation. They said they were threatened and forced to give up their land for the projects and without issuing preliminary or other notifications, the authorities had taken their signatures in the agreements, by using the police force.

Further, they said the state government had violated the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013, which was enacted by Parliament to safeguard the rights of landowners.

Even six years after filing the petitions, the respondent government and the revenue department failed to reply to their contentions against the charges upon them. In spite of repeated opportunities given by the court, they failed to file counters.

At the last occasion of hearing on November 11, 2021, the division bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma gave last opportunity to the government file counters, and directed the principal secretary of revenue to file the counter by December 22, else he shall be present before the court.

But, on Wednesday, Somesh Kumar had neither filed the counter nor appeared before the court. Radhive Reddy, government counsel, requested some more time. However, petitioner's counsel brought to the notice of the court that despite giving the same type of requests for the past five years, the authorities had been dragging the cases.

Taking serious view of the negligent attitude towards the court orders, the bench imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on the principal secretary of revenue, which should be paid to the PM`s Covid Relief Fund. The bench also issued summons to him to appear on January 24, 2022.

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