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How Savitramma’s long fight for farmland put 4 IAS officers behind bars

The Andhra Pradesh High Court recently held four serving IAS officers and one retired officer guilty of contempt of court for wilfully disobeying an order that it had passed in February 2017. 
 
The court passed the judgement in response to a petition filed by Tallapaka Savitramma, a farmer from Nellore district, who had sought compensation for her land that was acquired by the state government. 
 
Savitramma’s three-acre land was part of a 10-acre stretch that was acquired by the state government to set up the National Institute of Mental Health in Nellore. Alleging that she was not paid compensation, she approached the High Court in 2017. Following this, on February 10, 2017, the High Court directed the state to pay Savitramma, but the government did not do so. She filed a contempt petition in the High Court in 2018. 
 
Over the weekend, the court convicted Principal Finance Secretary Shamsher Singh Rawat, Chief Minister’s Additional Secretary Revu Mutyala Raju, the collector of SPS Nellore district KVN Chakradhara Babu and a former collector of the same district, MV Seshagiri Babu. Raju had also served as the collector of the district earlier.
 
Justice Battu Devanand also convicted retired IAS officer Manmohan Singh, who was the principal secretary (revenue) in 2017. The court sentenced Rawat and Singh to imprisonment for one month, and sentenced the others to two weeks in jail. But it suspended the sentence for a month to give the officers time to file an appeal. It also fined them Rs. 1,000 each.
 
Three other IAS officers, including Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary Aditya Nath Das, were acquitted. The compensation was paid to Savitramma on March 3 this year. But the court noted that the amount was paid four years after the contempt petition was filed and held that this was a fit case for punishment for contempt of court.

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