HYDERABAD: Telangana high court on Wednesday allowed Nalgonda collector Prashant J Patil to escape six weeks in jail in a contempt case after he agreed to work with children in an orphanage every weekend. The bench of Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B Vijaysen Reddy accepted his proposal to serve at the orphanage in Nalgonda.
“Spend two hours every weekend with the students for the next six months. Your service will be certified by our principal district judge there,” the bench told the IAS officer who was present before the virtual court hearing his appeal against the conviction.
Patil, who was Warangal joint collector earlier, along with P Sandhya Rani, then district supply officer, were dragged to court by an aggrieved rice miller. Following some discrepancies found at the mill, civil supplies officials had booked a case against the miller and stopped his supply of paddy. The miller had approached the high court, which had instructed the officials to restart paddy supply.
The two officials were later charged with ignoring and trying to subvert the court order. A single judge had convicted them in the case and awarded them a Rs 2,000 penalty. If they failed to pay the fine, they were ordered to undergo simple imprisonment of six weeks.
Rani then retired but the contempt case continued. The bench last month asked the two if they were willing to do some social service in place of the jail term. They agreed and the bench directed them to come to court with some ideas and areas where they would propose to serve.
When the court resumed the hearing on Wednesday, A Sanjeev Kumar, state’s special counsel, informed the bench that the collector would enrol 600 girls in schools at Miryalaguda where there was a drastic drop in the enrolment of girls. The bench said it was part of his duty as district collector of Nalgonda and Miryalaguda falls under his jurisdiction. Instead, it asked him to identify an orphanage in Nalgonda.
The special counsel said there was an orphanage in the district with 40 students. While accepting the unconditional apology of the duo, the bench directed the collector to quote this order in the future whenever he faces a fresh contempt case.
Rani was asked to identify an orphanage within a 5 km radius of her Domalguda residence in Hyderabad and serve two sumptuous lunches to the inmates on the coming Ugadi and Srirama Navami festival days. The in-charge of the orphanage has to certify her service. The punishment awarded to the two officers was set aside with a warning that any failure to comply with their service option would land them before the court.