AP HC slams Ippatam petitioners, slaps with fine for misleading court on notices

AP High Court imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh each on 14 petitioners for misleading the court with regard to the demolition of illegal structures in Ippatam village

Pawan Kalyan

AMARAVATI: The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Thursday imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh each on 14 petitioners for misleading the court and gross misuse of judiciary with regard to the demolition of illegal structures in Ippatam village in Tadepalli mandal.

Furious with the way the court system was taken for granted to extract an interim stay, the High Court has also removed the restraint order granted earlier on the demolitions. The 14 petitioners were accused of lying to the High Court that no prior notices were served on them by the civic authorities before carrying out the demolition of the structures as part of road-widening works in the village.

The blatant lie of the petitioners was already exposed recently during the course of the hearing when their advocate had to admit before the High Court that prior notices were indeed served on the residents. Based on the petition maliciously filed by the 14 Ippatam residents, the High Court had, in the past, ordered an interim stay on the removal of the structures.

Long before the truth came out in the High Court, the Ippatam demolitions assumed political colour, with Pawan Kalyan's Jana Sena and Chandrababu Naidu's Telugu Desam Party causing a furore in an attempt to corner the YS Jaganmohan Reddy-led YSRCP government. The actor-turned-politician banked heavily on the issue for some political mileage when he visited the demolition sites in the village on November 5.

Amid high drama, Pawan Kalyan and his Jana Sena activists defied the police curbs and went ahead with their visit to the village. In the process, an over-exuberant Jana Sena chief also courted controversy by perching atop his vehicle during the journey of his convoy from Gannavaram Airport to Ippatam. He hogged headlines across the country as the national media tore him apart for setting a bad and dangerous example for his fans.

Since Pawan Kalyan's visit, the Jana Sena chief and the TDP leadership, including its president Chandrababu Naidu and his son Lokesh, had been accusing the YS Jaganmohan Reddy government of pursuing political vengeance. They kept claiming that some of the Ippatam residents were targetted as they allowed the Jana Sena to organise one of its meetings in their agricultural fields.

Interestingly, the High Court, during the course of the hearing, also asked the petitioners as to why proceedings should not be initiated against them for criminal contempt of court. On Thursday, Justice Ravinath Tilhari not only castigated the 14 petitioners for misleading the court but even ordered them to pay a fine of Rs 1 lakh each.

Politics apart, the Tadepalli municipal officials served notices on May 21, 2022 on Ippatam residents who had constructed illegal structures like compound walls and toilets encroaching the land earmarked for the road. The notices were served to pave the way for a long-pending road-widening work, which was initiated with the consensus of the villagers.

However, Bellamkonda Venkata Narayana, with 13 others, approached the Andhra Pradesh High Court challenging the notices. Even as the hearing was going on in the high court, the issue took a quick, political turn with the two opposition parties trying to make the most out of it.

Incidentally, Pawan Kalyan was also reportedly preparing to visit Ippatam again in the near future. Now that the High Court has clearly taken the fizz out of the issue, it will be interesting to see if the Jana Sena chief eats the humble pie or remains stubborn on his stand over the issue.

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