The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Friday sentenced three IAS officers, including a Special Chief Secretary, to a jail term of one month and also ordered them to pay a fine of Rs 2,000 each holding them guilty of contempt of court.
Justice B Devanand passed the order against Special Chief Secretary (Agriculture) Poonam Malakondaiah, the then Special Commissioner of Agriculture H Arun Kumar and the then District Collector of Kurnool G Veerapandian for "having violated the orders of the court" and failed to implement its orders within a specified time.
The judge had in October 2019 directed the government authorities to consider the candidature of a petitioner to the post of Village Agriculture Assistant (Grade-2) and pass an appropriate order within two weeks.
The petitioner filed a contempt case against the officials concerned for having failed to implement the High Court order.
It was only after the contempt petition was filed in November 2020 that the government authorities declared (in December 2020) the petitioner as "ineligible to be considered for the post of Village Agriculture Assistant (Grade-2).
Referring to the submissions made by the respondents in the contempt case, the judge remarked that they "disobeyed the orders passed by this Court on October 22, 2019".
The officials failed to implement the court order in true spirit, he noted.
When the lawyer for the respondents asked the court to refrain from imposing any punishment on senior officers of the government, Justice Devanand noted, "I must express my inability to disagree".
"It is incumbent upon the respondents, more particularly those who are holding senior positions in government, to ensure the orders of this court are complied with promptitude and within the time stipulated for its compliance," the judge observed.
He pointed out that the officers made no efforts to seek extension of time to comply with the orders. As such, holding them guilty of contempt, the judge imposed the punishment.
However, upon the request of Arun Kumar and Veerapandian, the judge suspended the sentence for six weeks.
Justice Devanand directed Poonam Malakondaiah to surrender before the Registrar (Judicial) of the High Court on or before May 13.