Vijayawada: The Andhra Pradesh High Court has slapped a fine of one lakh each on 14 farmers after reprimanding them for “misleading the court” or hiding information, with the hidden aim of winning favourable orders.
A single-judge bench of Justice Ravinath Tilhari heard the petition filed by the farmer Bellamkonda Venkata Narayana and 13 others from Ippatam village of Tadepalli mandal in Guntur district.
The court reprimanded the farmers for concealing information about the receipt of show cause notices in order to obtain an interim stay order on demolition of houses.
The court directed the farmers to pay the fine to AP Legal Services Authority. The act of the farmers was akin to abuse of judicial procedure, the court noted, and asked them to give up such practices. The court struck off the case filed by farmers against the demolitions.
The farmers from Ippatam village moved a lunch motion petition on Nov. 4 seeking a stay order on the ongoing partial demolition of houses and compound walls in the village as part of the road widening works. They prayed that no further action be taken by the authorities based on a notice served on them on May 21, as the administration’s act was “against the principles of natural justice.”
In the subsequent hearing, counsel of Mangalagiri-Tadepalli municipal corporation submitted to the court that the civic body had served a show cause notice to all the petitioners on May 10, if their property should not be touched. Counsel informed the court that the petitioners concealed this information and obtained an interim order to stop the demolition.
Petitioners’ counsel Sai Surya submitted to the court that the farmers did receive the show cause notice from the civic authorities but they could not make out the difference between the show cause notice and a normal notice.
Out of the 14 farmers, 11 appeared before the court in person based on its earlier direction while the remaining three did not attend the court on personal reasons.
The court asked first petitioner Bellamkonda Venkata Narayana as to what went wrong. He responded by saying the petitioners had received a notice in May and they took it to the notice of the local MLA. They were not aware of the content in the notice, he said.
Though the petitioners’ counsel pleaded with the court to show mercy on them, the court refused to be lenient.