HYDERABAD: The Telangana High Court directed the state government to fill the vacant post of presiding officer of the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Authority (tribunal), which is set up for the purpose of resolving land acquisition disputes including enhancement of compensation.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Ujjal Bhuyan said the post shall not be kept vacant for a long time as the oustees were awaiting the redressal of their grievances.
The bench was dealing with the two appeals against conviction for contempt, by two officials, Vijender Reddy, revenue divisional officer, and B. Prabhu, tahsildar, who were sentenced to simple imprisonment for not implementing court orders in providing compensation and relief and rehabilitation (R&R) settlement to the land owners, whose land was acquired for construction of the Mallannasagar project. However, on an earlier occasion, the High Court had suspended the conviction orders, directing them to settle the issues of land owners.
But the court orders were not complied with by the authorities. The reason they mentioned for not implementing the court orders was that the post of presiding officer of the tribunal had been vacant for six months.
Though water was released into Mallannasagar and canals were filled, the project oustees are awaiting their compensation and other benefits. This was brought to the notice of the court by the counsel of victims. The counsel also said about Rs 500 crore of compensation was yet to be paid to farmers, but the post had not been filled.
Government counsel said the amount was deposited before the land acquisition tribunal and steps had been taken to fill the post of the presiding officer. The counsel said the government had filed writ appeals on the orders of the single court, which had directed that until the compensation and R&R package were provided to the project oustees, they would not be dispossessed from the land.
The High Court adjourned the hearing to November 1, saying it would hear the writ appeals along with the contempt appeals....