HYDERABAD: The Telangana High Court on Tuesday took a serious view of the recent remarks made by Siddipet District Collector P Venkatram Reddy against the sale of paddy seeds and directed the State government not to impose any restriction on the same.
Hearing a writ petition filed by an agriculturist from the district, Justice Vinod Kumar said that the acts of forcing farmers not to grow paddy and threatening agriculture officials of dire consequences if they permitted the sale of paddy seeds were contentious and amounted to criminal contempt. “As this bench lacks the jurisdiction to deal with criminal contempt, the Registry is directed to place this writ petition before the Chief Justice bench,” Justice Kumar said.
The petition was filed by Bathula Narayana from Imamabad village in Siddipet district, who was aggrieved by the ‘threats’ of the District Collector. It may be recalled that Venkatram Reddy, during a meeting held on October 26, 2021 with agriculture officials, had threatened to cancel the licence of dealers if they sold paddy seeds to farmers. He had said: “If you (dealers) sell paddy seeds, you will be sent to jail. I will cancel your shop licences and seize your establishment. You will have to move the High Court or the Supreme Court to get your shops reopened.”
Irked by these remarks, Justice Kumar said, “Prima facie, it appears that the observations of the District Collector are contentious and amount to criminal contempt. It is very disturbing. Nobody is above the law.” Telangana Advocate General BS Prasad, meanwhile, informed the court that the State government had not issued any GO or official communication banning the sale of paddy seeds in Siddipet.
The matter has been adjourned to November 25 for further hearing.