Ahead of the crucial assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, the Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved its verdict on a PIL seeking a CBI probe into the alleged disproportionate assets amassed by Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and his family members.
A Bench of Justice AR Lakshmanan and Justice Altmas Kabir reserved the orders after hearing marathon arguments from the counsel for petitioner Vishwanath Chaturvedi, Mulayam Singh Yadav, his wife, two sons and a daughter-in-law for the whole day. The verdict would be pronounced by March 22, when Justice Lakshmanan is scheduled to retire.
On behalf of the petitioner, senior counsel KTS Tulsi contended that the allegations against Yadav and his family members were substantiated by material produced before the court and it needed to be examined by an independent agency.
He said merely because of allegations of political rivalry, the court could not shut its eyes from the incriminating material which was already being examined by the Income Tax Department.
He submitted that if not an FIR, the court should direct the CBI to register a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) and if the allegations were found to be true, the PE could be converted into an FIR.
However, senior counsel Harish Salve, who appeared for Mulayam Singh Yadav, vehemently opposed the petition terming it as politically motivated. Salve said since the Income Tax Department was already looking into the allegations, there was no need for another probe by the CBI. Mulayam and his family members have denied the allegations as an exercise to tarnish their image.
Salve drew the attention of the Bench to the court’s ruling in the fodder scam case in which it had dismissed a PIL filed by JD(U) and BJP leaders against Railway Minister Lalu Prasad and his wife Rabri Devi.
Contradicting the details furnished by the petitioner, Salve requested the court to dismiss the petition. He also questioned the petitioner’s bonafides as he had been associated with the Congress Party’s students’ wing. By showing documents, he pointed out that most of the property alleged to have been bought by the Yadavs were acquired when Mulayam Singh Yadav was in the opposition.
Appearing for Mulayam’s MP Son Akhilesh Yadav, senior counsel Ashok Desai submitted that the court has ensure unquestionable probity in public life and at the same time it has to see to it that those in power are not exposed to unnecessary harassment.
Senior counsel Rohington Nariman and Rakesh Dwidevi, who appeared on behalf of other members of the Yadav family, too requested the court to termed the PIL as politically motivated and requested the court to dismiss it. The counsel for the Yadavs alleged that the PIL was sponsored by the Congress Party, which was pitted against the Samajwadi Party in the state.
They responded to the allegations one by one and contended that there was no substance in it.
The court had in January last year issued notice to the Centre, Mulayam Singh Yadav and members of his family on the PIL which alleged that Yadav and his relatives had amassed wealth by misusing his official position.
The petitioner alleged that Yadav and his sons had no business except political activities and that the assets worth crores of rupees were accumulated through corrupt means. However, Salve pointed out that the property shown in the name of the Yadavs in the petition in Lucknow was in fact Samajwadi Party Office. Chaturvedi moved the Supreme Court in 2005 after the Governor and the Union Home Minister did not take any action in the matter.