"Petitions seeking criminal proceedings are devoid of merit"
In a major relief to the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Mayawati, the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court on Monday dismissed a clutch of petitions seeking criminal proceedings against her in the Taj Heritage Corridor (THC) case. In its 69-page order, a Bench of Justices Imtiyaz Murtaza and Ashwani Kumar Singh said the petitions were “devoid of merit” and “are hereby dismissed.”
The court also dismissed a plea to prosecute Naseemuddin Siddiqui, who was the Environment Minister in the Mayawati government in 2002-03 when the alleged THC scam surfaced. It upheld the June 2007 order of the special CBI court, which dropped criminal proceedings against the Bahujan Samaj Party president and Mr. Siddiqui after the then Uttar Pradesh Governor, T.V. Rajeswar, declined to give the sanction to prosecute them. The Governor’s order was passed on June 3, 2007 and Mr. Rajeswar’s decision was announced by Ms. Mayawati at a press conference in Lucknow on June 5, 2007. She had, by then, become the Chief Minister for the fourth time, dethroning Mulayam Singh in May 2007.
Six petitions were filed in 2009 challenging the special CBI court’s order and seeking prosecution of Ms. Mayawati and Mr. Siddiqui. After hearing the case, the High Court reserved its order on September 12, 2012.
Welcoming the verdict, Senior BSP leader Satish Chandra Mishra termed the petitions “politically motivated” and pursued with “mala fide intentions.” He told reporters that there were no offences against Ms. Mayawati in the THC case. Chandra Bhushan Pandey, counsel for petitioners Mamta Singh and Kamlesh Verma, said they would move the Supreme Court against the High Court order.
In connection with the THC case, the CBI had forwarded a report of the SP, CBI , Lucknow, along with documents to the State Chief Secretary on February 22, 2007 requesting sanction from the “competent Authority,” the Governor, under Section 197 of Cr.PC to prosecute the then Chief Minister Ms. Mayawati and Mr. Siddiqui under Section120B read with Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and substantive offences under Sections 420,467,468,471 and Section 120B of the IPC read with 13(2) read with 13 (1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
The file pertaining to the CBI’s request was put up before the then Chief Minister, Mulayam Singh, on May 7, 2007. The file was signed by Mr. Singh the same day and sent to Raj Bhavan on May 8, 2007, a few days before Ms. Mayawati took over as Chief Minister on May 13, 2007.
In his order dated June 3, 2007, Mr. Rajeswar said there “is no prima facie case to charge Ms. Mayawati with the offences charged against her. There was no forgery either. There was also no element of corruption on her part. What was attributed to her was a reported approval… the fact that she wrote a letter (sent on 3.10.2002 ) to the Union Minister (MoEF), T.R. Baalu, for the sanction of the project, the fact that the Mission Management Board consisted of officers of both the State and Central governments who met regularly and discussed the project, and even a sum of Rs. 17 crore was spent through the NPCC (National Projects Construction Corporation ) all go to show that the serious offences with which Ms. Mayawati and the Minister were charged do not stand scrutiny.”