The Bombay High Court on Wednesday dropped contempt of court proceedings initiated against five high-ranking State government officers for non-compliance of its orders after the officers personally appeared in court and apologised..A Bench of Justices GS Kulkarni and Jitendra Jain remarked that such conduct from high-ranking officers was not appreciated, as it would send a message to citizens that the orders of the Court were not binding. “If these high-ranking officers don’t comply with our orders, then it will give a message that orders of the Court are not binding. What message will go to the common man?” the Bench remarked..All five officers appeared in court today and tendered their apology.Advocate General Dr Birendra Saraf pointed out that while he was not justifying the delay in their actions, the orders were eventually complied with. He requested the Court to consider that the officers did not have any other contempt action initiated by any other court.The Bench accepted the apology and decided to drop the contempt proceedings against the officers..On August 31, 2023, the Bench had sentenced these officers to one month of civil imprisonment for contempt of its orders.After lawyers appearing for the officers approached the Court praying for a stay, the Bench eventually stayed the sentence for a week, till today.The five officers in question were:Aseem Gupta (former Principal Secretary of Relief and Rehabilitation Department)Bijaysinh Deshmukh (Pune Additional Collector)Uttam Patil (Deputy Collector in Rehabilitation Department)Sachin Kale (Revenue Officer)Praveen Salunkhe (Land Acquisition Department).During the course of today's hearing, Justice Kulkarni mulled over coming up with a provision where ‘last minute apologies’ through affidavits are not accepted.The Court explained that within the administration level, it may consider allowing officers to file undertakings that contain details of any antecedents of contempt proceedings, initiated or pending against such officers. This was with an intention to find out if the officer was repeatedly disobeying orders..It also advised the State government to form a special cell to coordinate with lawyers on the huge number of cases concerning land acquisition.“You can’t have the Collector going around doing everything. Many of the villagers are waiting for justice. Villages and villages are coming to us,” the judges said. .The Court was hearing contempt petitions by 26 farmers who claimed that the State had failed to allot them land on account of being project-affected persons as per a High Court order of March 2022.Despite notices being issued by the Court, the officers failed to file their responses. This irked the Bench, which called upon all five officers to remain present in court on August 30. Barring one officer, all others failed to appear on that date.The Court granted one more opportunity to the officers to remain present on Thursday, but only four officers turned up. Angered at this behaviour, the Court held the officers to be in contempt and ordered civil imprisonment of one month for each. When the matter was mentioned soon thereafter, Senior Advocate Milind Sathe prayed for a stay on behalf of the contemnors.The Court agreed to grant the officers one last chance and stayed its order for a week.