The Allahabad High Court on Thursday issued a non-bailable warrant against the Chief Executive Officer of New Okhla Industrial Development Authority (NOIDA) and IAS Officer Ritu Maheshwari after she failed to appear in court in a contempt case related to land acquisition.
The Bench of Justice Saral Srivastava has directed the police to arrest her and present her in court for the next hearing on May 13. This order has been passed in a contempt plea filed by one Manorama Kuchhal and another person.
Essentially, their land was acquired in the year 1990 by the NOIDA without following any procedure as contemplated in law. Challenging the acquisition, they had moved the HC by way of filing a writ plea.
In 2016, their writ plea was allowed by the Allahabad High Court and it had quashed the land acquisition notifications. While allowing the writ petition of the applicants, the Court had deprecated the conduct of NOIDA in taking over the possession of the property and changing the nature of the property by raising construction illegally over the property
Further, the HC had directed NOIDA to determine the compensation of disputed land at twice market value in accordance with provisions of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, and pay the same to petitioners within three months.
However, this order was not complied with by the authorities, and therefore, the petitioners moved the instant contempt plea and IAS Officer Ritu Maheshwari, being the CEO of NOIDA was impleaded in the contempt matter.
On April 2, 2022, IAS Officer Ritu Maheshwari was asked to remain present before the Court on May 5, 2022, however, when the Court took up the matter on May 5, it was informed to the Court that she was set to catch her flight to Prayagraj at 10:30 a.m.
In view of this, the Court, deprecating her conduct, remarked thus:
"She was supposed to be here at 10:00 a.m., therefore, the Court cannot countenance the conduct of CEO, NOIDA in taking flight after the functioning of the Court starts and expected the Court to wait for her and take up the matter after she reaches the Court. This conduct of CEO is reprehensible and amounts to contempt of Courts, inasmuch as she has been summoned by the Court in a contempt proceeding for non-compliance of an order passed by Writ Court… The order of Writ Court has not been complied with and in such view of the fact, when the Court has passed an order for appearance of CEO NOIDA, she was expected to be present in Court when the functioning of the Court starts at 10:00 a.m. rather she chose to take flight at 10:30 a.m. from Delhi deliberately with an expectation that the Court will take up the matter as per her convenience."
Against this backdrop, finding her conduct to be a deliberate and willful disrespect to the Court, the Court issued a non-bailable warrant against her. Consequently, listing this case on May 13, 2022, the Court directed that Maheshwari be brought in police custody before the Court.
Case title - Smt. Manorama Kuchhal And Another v. Brijesh Narain Singh D.M./Collector Nic Dist. Centre And 6 Ors