HC directs Nalgonda Collector to spend time at orphanage

Telangana High Court on Wednesday directed Nalgonda district Collector Prashanth J. Patil to spend two hours on weekends for six months in an orphanage in lieu of punishment in a contempt of court case.

In a connected matter, the HC instructed Sandhya Rani, a retired District Supply Officer (DSO), to serve food to all the inmates of an orphanage within 10 kms of her residence on the coming Ugadi and Sriramanavami festival days.

Nearly four years ago, a single judge imposed a fine of ₹2,000 each on Mr. Patil and Ms. Snadhya Rani, who were working then as Warangal district Joint Collector and DSO respectively, holding them guilty in a contempt of court case. A rice mill owner from Parvathagiri of Warangal district filed a writ petition in 2015 alleging that revenue officials were not allotting any paddy to his mill for custom milling, having earlier registered a case for violations of license conditions.

The single judge passed an interim direction to authorities to allocate and deliver paddy to the petitioner’s mill for custom milling. A year later, the mill owner moved the HC again stating that the authorities were not complying with the HC order. The judge held Mr. Patil and Ms. Sandhya Rani guilty of contempt of court and imposed ₹2,000 fine each.

Seeking to set aside the punishment, the two officers filed appeal petitions which came up for hearing on Wednesday before a bench of Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy. Declining to allow the appeals, the CJ suggested that the officers can do social service in lieu of punishment.

The government counsel said that percentage of girl students in government schools was taking a dip. He said Mr. Patil would strive to induct 600 girl students in government schools of Miryalaguda. However, the bench turned down the proposal stating that it was Mr. Patil’s responsibility to do so being the district Collector. The bench then ordered the Collector to spend time at the orphanage in Nalgonda comprising 40 students.

Initially, the bench wanted Ms. Sandhya Rani also to spend time at the orphanage during weekends. The government counsel explained that she had retired and it would be difficult for her to travel long distance since she was facing health issues. The counsel said she was ready to withdraw the appeal plea and pay the fine of ₹2,000.

The bench headed by CJ Hima Kohli rejected the proposal. Finally, the bench directed the retired officer to serve food at an orphanage near her house on the two festival days.

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