Contempt of court: HC issues feed-the-people order to one more officer found guilty

The High Court had issued directions on August 24, 2020, to the officer to release the vehicle loaded with jaggery but he did not do it

Hyderabad: Making it clear that the apologies of officers alone won’t prompt the court to let off guilty officers in contempt of court matters, the Telangana High Court ordered a modified form of punishment to another officer on Friday.

A division bench of the High Court on Friday directed Syed Yasin Qureshi, deputy commissioner of the Prohibition and Excise department at Mahbubnagar, to feed a minimum of 20 persons daily for a week by standing outside a mosque near his residence, to coincide with the breaking of fast ritual for Ramzan in the evening.
It also imposed on him a token cost of Rs 1,000 for non-compliance of court orders.

A week ago the Nalgonda district collector was directed by the court to do social service and a retired civil supplies officer was ordered to feed orphans for two days in lieu of the punishments imposed on them.

The division bench comprising Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy was dealing with the contempt appeal filed by Qureshi urging the court to set aside the punishment in a case of willful disobedience towards the court orders.

The single judge had imposed costs of Rs 1,000 on the deputy commissioner for his “recklessness” in the matter of non-implementation of high court orders.

The original case related to the seizing of a vehicle loaded with jaggery. The High Court had issued directions on August 24, 2020, to the officer to release the vehicle, in response to the contention that the jaggery would be damaged if the vehicle is exposed to the sun and rain. However, the officer did not release the vehicle.
After the contempt case was filed before the High Court, the excise department rushed to file an appeal against the order issued on August 24. When notice was served in the contempt case, the department released the vehicle on January 15.

There was a delay of four and a half months in implementation of the court order; and that too, only after the contempt notice was issued.
Taking serious note of this, the single judge bench imposed a fine of Rs 1,000, which it said would be collected from the salary of the officer and paid to the state exchequer.

Challenging the orders of single judge and saying that if such a cut was made from his salary it could affect his service record, Qureshi filed the contempt appeal. On Friday, he came with a request before the court that instead of paying the costs, he shall feed the needy people, and this was agreed to by the court.
The court made it clear that it won't be asking for a compliance report vis-à-vis his service of feeding the people, but would take serious action if it came to know that the officer did not do what he was asked to by way of the amended punishment.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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