Uttar Pradesh lokayukta justice (retd) NK Mehrotra has said that he had not given clean chit to former chief minister Mayawati of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the Rs. 1,410-crore Dalit memorials scam.
Justice Mehrotra's statement comes two days after he submitted an 88-page report on alleged irregularities in the construction of Dalit memorials — in which he excluded Mayawati from the loop — to chief minister Akhilesh Yadav.
However, justice Mehrotra admitted that the scope of his investigation into the construction of the memorials was limited.
"The state government recommended a probe into the irregularities committed in the mining of pink stone in Mirzapur, the purchase of the stone by a state government agency and the role of public servants," he said.
"The decision to construct the memorials was taken by an elected government and even the cabinet had given its approval. The decision of a state government or relevance of the memorials was not in the scope of my probe."
"Earlier, the Samajwadi Party had constructed a park to commemorate the contribution of party ideologue Ram Manohar Lohia and BJP had built the Deen Dayal Upadhayay park in the heart of the city," he said.
Justice Mehrotra's report had indicted former BSP ministers Naseemuddin Siddiqui and Babu Singh Kushwaha, former legislators Sharda Prasad and Anil Kumar Maurya, sitting MLA Ramesh Chandra Dubey and 199 officials of various departments, who supervised work on these projects.
"I recorded the statement of 242 persons, including officers, engineers and contractors, but none gave evidence of the role of then chief minister Mayawati," justice Mehrotra said.
"All the officers and engineers said Mayawati visited the site to inspect the progress of the construction work," he said.
"She told the officers that it was pious work to mark the contribution of the Dalit saints for the have-nots. There was no evidence that money minted by the ministers reached Mayawati."
However, there was ample evidence that her ministers got the cuts and pocketed the money, justice Mehrotra noted.
When asked why he failed to recommend action against the then chief engineer of the public works department, T Ram, the lokayukta said there was no evidence against him too.
"All the engineers and officers told me that Ram visited the spot and gave instructions," justice Mehrotra said.
"The decision to dismantle the existing structures such as district jail, irrigation department colony, stadium and old memorial was taken by the cabinet."
Responding to allegations that IAS officers like the then Lucknow Development Authority vice chairman, the then city commissioner and bosses of other departments, who released funds for the memorials and reviewed their progress, were given an "escape route" in the probe report, justice Mehrotra said they had been indicted.
"In my report I have stated that a dozen IAS officers in top posts remained mute spectators as officers and engineers siphoned off the money released by the state government," he said.
"The state government can initiate action against the officers."
Justice Mehrotra claimed that state investigation agencies had slowed down the probe against the ministers.
"The lokayukta's recommendation should be a priority of the agencies," he added.
The lokayukta said he was dissatisfied with the probe conducted by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) into the scam.
"They should have done the probe thoroughly," he said.
"They did not investigate the properties of the ministers, engineers and contractors. Mine is only a preliminary investigation; I hope the state government will set up an independent agency for further probe."