21 Sep 2023 8:45 AM GMT
The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Friday convicted former Municipal Commissioner, Kadapa Mr. S. Lavanna and sentenced him to simple imprisonment of one month and a fine of Rs. 2,000/-.The petitioner had filed the Contempt Case alleging that the Respondents were in willful disobedience of the order in Writ Petition to not demolish the petitioner’s shops and residential portion without...
The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Friday convicted former Municipal Commissioner, Kadapa Mr. S. Lavanna and sentenced him to simple imprisonment of one month and a fine of Rs. 2,000/-.
The petitioner had filed the Contempt Case alleging that the Respondents were in willful disobedience of the order in Writ Petition to not demolish the petitioner’s shops and residential portion without following the procedure contemplated under law.
Contentions of both sides
According to the Petitioner, the shops were demolished high handedly without following due process of law. No notice was issued under the AP Municipalities Act.
The Municipal Commissioner, Kadapa filed counter contending that the petitioner had no legal right over 120 square yards as according to revenue records, the said site was Government land. Moreover, before the writ petition was filed, the Municipal staff had already followed the procedure by marking the encroachments and serving a written notice on all encroachers under Section 405 and 406 of the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation Act. Allegedly, the petitioner refused to receive the notice and the same was affixed in disputed property.
However, the Petitioner submitted that they did not receive any notice. Moreover, soon after the writ petition was disposed, it made a representation to Municipal Corporation that if the structure was required for public purpose, then adequate compensation should be given before acquiring the property.
But the counsel for Municipal Commissioner, further submitted that due process was already followed before filing of the writ and the order of writ petition was received late in the evening before which demolition had already taken place.
Ruling of the court
Justice Subba Reddy Satti observed that during the disposal of writ petition, the Standing Counsel for Kadapa Municipal Corporation had summitted that procedure contemplated under law would be followed before demolishing the subject shops. Accordingly, the writ was disposed of.
Thus, as seen from the order of writ petition, the Court was not then informed about issuance of notice under Sections 405 and 406 of the Act. Therefore, the notices placed on record in counter to contempt petition are only after thought to avid the contempt proceedings.
Furthermore, it is a settled position of law that once an order is passed in presence of counsel) in this case Standing Counsel for Municipal Commissioner), parties to the litigation are made aware of the order passed by the court and they cannot plead ignorance. Therefore, the contention that the order in writ petition was received late in evening after demolition falls to ground.
Relying on catena of Hon’ble Supreme Court decisions including but not limited to ET Sunup v. CANSS Employees Association (2004), Chairman, West Bengal Administrative Tribunal v. SK Manobbor Hossain (2012) the court ruled that the Government officers cannot be allowed to circumvent court orders as people will lose faith in judiciary. Even though punishing a person for contempt of court is a drastic step, but it has to be taken to maintain dignity of courts and proper administration of justice.
In this case, the Municipal Commissioner has also not taken any steps to compensate the petitioner. There has been no mention of any apology as well. As a consequence, simple imprisonment and fine was imposed on the Municipal Commissioner, Kadapa for contempt in this case. But the order is in kept in abeyance for three weeks enabling the contemnor to file appeal. The petitioner did not press proceedings against the District Collector, Kadapa, as a result he was discharged.
Counsel for Petitioner: Jada Sravan Kumar
Counsel for Respondent No. 2/S Lavanna : VSK Rama Rao
Case Title: P. Padmavathu Bai v. S. Lavanna, Municipal Corporation Commissioner, Kadapa and Anr.
Case No.: Contempt Case No. 1007 of 2020
Click Here To Read/Download Order