Andhra Pradesh high court sentences 5 IAS officers to jail for contempt

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The AP high court on Thursday found five IAS officers guilty of contempt of court and sentenced them with jail term and punishment.

The court, after hearing a contempt petition moved by one Tallapaka Savitramma from Kanupur village of Venkatachalam mandal in Nellore district, found the officials guilty of wilful disobedience of the court’s orders.

While senior IAS officer Manmohan Singh, the then principal secretary for revenue, was sentenced to four weeks in jail and a fine of 1,000, principal secretary for finance SS Rawat was sentenced to one month in jail and 2,000 fine.

Failing to pay the fine will increase the jail term by another week, the court said.
District collector of Nellore Revu Mutyala Raju has been sentenced to two weeks in jail along with a fine of 1,000, while KNV Chakradhar and MV Seshagiri Babu, who previously worked as Nellore district collectors, were fined 2,000 fine each, with a clause to spend a week in jail if they fail to pay the fine.

Savitramma had moved a petition in 2017 after her assigned land was taken away by the state government for the setting up of National Institute for Mentally Handicapped. Considering her petition, the court had directed the government to pay compensation along with others as per the issued GO within three months.

As no compensation was paid, she moved a contempt petition in 2018. The court issued notices to the respondents and after perusal of the counter affidavits filed by them, impleaded the officials who worked as Nellore district collectors during the period of litigation and also the principal secretaries of finance. After impleading the officials, the compensation amount was finally paid on March 30, 2021 — a delay of about three years.
After perusal of the affidavits filed by the officers, the court found Manmohan Singh (then principal secretary for revenue), SS Rawat (principal secretary for finance), Mutylaraju, Chakradhar and Seshagiri Babu, who worked as Nellore district collectors, responsible for delay in payment of compensation to the 62-year-old widow.

Justice Battu Devanand observed that because of the negligence and disobedience of the officials, the old woman suffered a lot. Noting that it was a fit case for contempt of court, he rejected the unconditional apology tendered by the officers. The court also directed the state government to pay `1 lakh to the petitioner towards costs.

However, Justice Devanand suspended the operation of the sentence by four weeks after request by the officials.

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