The Telangana High Court has summoned the Chief Secretary of the State to present before the High Court a definite timeline to start the work for restoring the Hill Fort Palace, which is presently in a rundown condition, to its former glory.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice Ujjal Bhuyan and Justice C.V. Bhaskar Reddy heard a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) relating to the restoration and conservation of the Hill Fort Palace and the surrounding grounds, which reflect the rich heritage of the city and the state of Telangana.
Proceedings were initiated way back on 10.02.2020. After more than 2½ years, no tangible steps have been taken by the State and its officials , the Bench noted.
In an order dated 22.11.2022 , the High Court had directed the State to inform the Court about the tangible steps that may be taken for starting the work for restoration and conservation of the Hill Fort Palace and the surrounding grounds.
The Court had called for fixing a definite timeline to start the work for restoration and conservation of the Hill Fort Palace.
On December 09 , Harender Pershad, Special Government Pleader has produced before the Court a letter dated 08.12.2022 written by the Managing Director of the Telangana State Tourism Development Corporation Limited to the Advocate General stating that oral orders have been issued to the Corporation to carry out works for cleaning of the Palace etc. The work is being monitored by the Architect. On receipt of line estimates/DPR from the architect, further action would be initiated with the approval of the Government.
The High Court noted that some undated/untimed colour photographs have been annexed to the aforesaid letter as a proof of cleaning operations under way in the Hill Fort Palace.
“We find that all the persons in the photographs holding brooms etc., are well-dressed and gives an impression that they are employees of the Corporation or of some Government undertaking. After due consideration, we are of the view that summoning of the officials to the Court has become a useless formality as these officers are either incompetent or are not at all interested in carrying out the work which is the subject matter of the PIL. In fact, from a reading of our previous orders, a view may be taken that the Court was misled all these while by stating that the Government was moved for sanctioning Rs.50 crores for restoration and conservation of the Hill Fort Palace and grounds when in reality nothing has been done”, the Court went on to observed.
The High Court , therefore summoned the Chief Secretary of the State of Telangana to appear before the High Court on 23.12.2022 at 10:30 a.m., to tell the High Court the exact position and to present before the Court a definite timeline to start the work with concrete proposal.
“If this is not forthcoming, we are afraid we will be compelled to pass necessary orders against all the erring officials including initiation of contempt proceedings. All the officers mentioned above including the one who is absent today, are directed to be present in person along with the Chief Secretary of the State of Telangana on the next date. List on 23.12.2022 at 10:30 a.m”, the order reads.