Telangana HC awards 3 month jail term to District Collector, two others in contempt case

Hyderabad: The Telangana High Court has sentenced Rajanna Sircilla District Collector D Krishna Bhaskar and two other officials, to three months simple imprisonment in a contempt case over acquisition of farm land belonging to a batch of farmers for building a reservoir.

Justice M S Ramachandra Rao held Bhaskar, then joint collector Yasmin Basha (now Collector of Wanaparthy district) and Revenue Divisional Officer N Srinivasa Rao had wilfully disobeyed the court’s October 12, 2018 order restraining the authorities from dispossessing the petitioners of their land and taking up further construction work.

The court, however, suspended the sentence for six weeks.

In a recent judgement, the Judge ordered that an adverse entry for “willful disobedience” of the court orders shall be recorded in the service records of the officials.

He also imposed a fine of Rs 2,000 and directed them to pay costs of Rs 10,000 to each of the petitioners, who filed the contempt petition, within four weeks.

The petitioners, who are land owners and small farmers from Ananthagiri village in Rajanna Sircilla district, filed the contempt petition seeking to punish the respondents for disobeying the court’s order, resulting in their land being submerged.

In the October 12, 2018 interim order, the court had restrained the officials from taking posession of the land mentioned in acquisition declarations issued in January and May 2017 and taking up any further construction work in the said land pending disposal of the petition.

The petitioners, whose land wasacquired for construction of Anantagiri reservoir under Kaleswaram project, had first approached the court contending that no relief and rehabilitation benefits had been paid to them under Section 31 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.

In their contempt pleas, the farmers said their land got submerged with water from upstream despite the interim order by the court.

“I hold that petitioners were dispossessed from their lands in October, 2019 itself and their lands were submerged as alleged in the Contempt Case and all the respondents have thus willfully disobeyed the order….,” the judge said.