SC blow to Maya in Taj Corridor case
The Supreme Court on Monday cleared the decks for the filing of a chargesheet against BSP chief Mayawati in the Taj Heritage Corridor case. A three-judge bench headed by Justice S.B. Sinha directed the agency to place all material collected during the probe before the CBI special judge in Lucknow.india Updated: Nov 28, 2006 01:52 IST
Decks cleared for chargesheet
The Supreme Court on Monday cleared the decks for the filing of a chargesheet against BSP chief Mayawati in the Taj Heritage Corridor case. A three-judge bench headed by Justice S.B. Sinha directed the agency to place all material collected during the probe before the CBI special judge in Lucknow.
The case was registered on the orders of the Supreme Court in 2003 after Ajay Agrawal, a former standing counsel for Uttar Pradesh, filed a public interest petition alleging corruption in the Rs 175-crore project to develop land along the Yamuna in the vicinity of the Taj Mahal. Mayawati was then the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.
The judgement comes just before the crucial Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, and at a time the BSP is struggling to cope with the void left by the death of its founder Kanshi Ram.
It is likely to hit Mayawati adversely, forcing her on to the back foot in a possible electoral pact with the Congress. The judges - who rejected the CBI director's recommendation, based on Attorney General Milon K. Banerji's opinion, to close the case against Mayawati - did not give a deadline for the agency to act on their order. However, a chargesheet filed just before the electoral process begins to roll in UP, could create problems for both the BSP chief and her party.
The court clarified that the December 31, 2004 CBI status report containing the attorney general's (AG's) clean chit to Mayawati and the Central Vigilance Commissioner's (CVC's) report would not be placed before the Lucknow special court. The CVC had, on the request of the court, examined the material collected by the CBI, and opined that Mayawati and some others could be proceeded against.
The judges noted that there were no differences of opinion in the CBI team - led by an SP and supervised by senior officers like a DIG, a joint director and an additional director - that investigated the case, and the investigating officer's opinion would, therefore, prevail over that of the AG's. The entire investigating team, and the assistant legal adviser and deputy legal advisor, had said there was enough material to prosecute Mayawati.
The court took exception to the fact that the CBI chief had not examined the material collected by his officers before referring the matter to the AG, and had gone on to accept the latter's view that the case should be closed. The judges expressed concern over the CBI's failure to follow procedure and perform its duties, and said a day might come when the system collapsed like a rope of sand. They also said the role of a senior public prosecutor was to conduct the trial, not to advise the CBI.