Vinay Kumar

Case can be made out against Siddiqui for forgery: Gopal Subramaniam

  • Minister's conduct "leaves much to be desired"
  • Mulayam sent file to Governor, three days before counting

    NEW DELHI: While refusing sanction for the Central Bureau of Investigation to go ahead with the prosecution of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati and her Cabinet colleague Naseemuddin Siddiqui in the Taj Heritage Corridor case, Governor T.V. Rajeswar held that there was "no element of corruption on her part" and no forgery either.

    Assets case pending

    Ms. Mayawati has got a reprieve in this case, but a disproportionate assets case is still pending and the CBI has almost completed its probe.

    In his June 3 order, the Governor said what was attributed to Ms. Mayawati was a reported approval, as claimed by her Principal Secretary P.L. Punia, for release of funds for certain project works.

    "Soon after, there was release of funds by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs of the Government of India for the Taj Heritage Corridor project and other projects connected with the Taj Trapezium Zone. The fact that she wrote to Union Minister T.R. Baalu for sanction of the project, the fact that the Mission Management Board, consisting of officers of both the State and the Central Government, regularly met and discussed the project and the fact that even a sum of Rs. 17 crore was spent through the Central Government public sector undertaking, NPCC, all go to show that the serious offences with which Ms. Mayawati and the Minister were charged do not stand scrutiny," Mr. Rajeswar concluded in his 23-page order.

    He declined to give sanction under Section 197 of the Cr.PC and 19(1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act for prosecuting them for offences under Section 120-B along with Sections 420, 467, 468 and 471 and offences under Section 13(2) and 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

    On February 22 this year, the CBI forwarded a report on the Taj case, along with documents, to the Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary with a request for grant of sanction by the Governor for the prosecution of Ms. Mayawati and Mr. Siddiqui.

    The file was retained in the Law Department, and put up to the then Chief Minister Mulayam Singh, along with a brief opinion of the Advocate-General, on May 7. The Chief Minister signed the file the same day and it was sent to the Raj Bhavan the next day, just three days before counting of votes in the Assembly election was to take place.

    While passing the order, since accessed by The Hindu , the Governor examined the file at length and discussed various aspects of the case with the investigating officer and other senior CBI officials.

    He also sought the views of Additional Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam, who studied the case and gave his opinion, running into 262 pages, on May 31 after going through the documents and statements recorded by the CBI.

    In Mr. Subramaniam's opinion, a case could be made out against Mr. Siddiqui under Section 463 of the Cr.PC for forgery; his conduct also left a lot to be desired and was not in conformity with the standard expected of a Cabinet Minister. The investigation was "somewhat extensive and involves a considerable degree of analysis of documents."

    Mr. Subramaniam said, "Ultimately, it is only the consideration of public justice which must weigh in the mind of the Governor and no other consideration."

    Governor's role

    Mr. Rajeswar noted that the role of the Governor under Section 197 of the Cr.PC was that of a statutory authority, different from his role as constitutional head of the State. "The application of Article 163 (2) of the Constitution is attracted only when the Governor discharges his constitutional obligations, but when he functions as the competent authority for grant of sanction against a Chief Minister under Section 197 of the CrPC, he cannot be said to be bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers."