HC stays punishment to Collector, officials

Single-judge awarded them jail term on contempt petition

The Telangana High Court has stayed the punishment awarded to three top Revenue officials of Rajanna Sircilla district by a single-judge in a contempt case pertaining to acquisition of lands for construction of Anantagiri reservoir under Kaleshwaram project package no. 10.

A bench of Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy stayed the single-judge order two days ago after hearing three separate contempt appeal petitions filed by the officials. The appeals were filed by Rajanna Sircilla district Collector D. Krishna Bhaskar, district former joint collector and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Authority and Revenue Divisional Officer cum Land Acquisition Officer.

Earlier, a single-judge held these three officers guilty of wilful disobedience of HC orders in an interim application of a writ petition filed by some farmers of Anantagiri and Repaka villages of the district. They claimed that their lands and houses were lost in the construction of Anantagiri reservoir. They charged that they were not adequately compensated as per the provisions of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act-2013.

The single-judge issued a stay order. The petitioners filed a contempt of court case alleging that the three officials went ahead with acquisition of their lands in violation of the stay order. The single-judge punished the three officials with three months of simple imprisonment and imposed ₹2,000 fine on each of them. The officers were also directed to pay ₹10,000 towards costs to each of the petitioners.

The three officials appealed against the single-judge order. On hearing contentions of Advocate General B.S. Prasad, appearing for the officials, the bench headed by the CJ stayed the single-judge order. However, the bench instructed the officials to deposit the fine amount and the costs to be paid to the petitioners in the contempt case in the court within two weeks.

The contempt appeals were posted to September for next hearing. The bench posted the writ petition filed by the farmers in July for adjudication. The farmers contended that the authorities did not pay complete compensation to them under Section 23 of the Land Acquisition Act-2013. According to them, compensation was paid only under Section 30 of the Act. They maintained that they were deprived of the compensation.

The authorities contended that there dual benefits of rehabilitation and resettlement cannot be awarded to the farmers under the Act.

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