Mayawati should repay statue money: Supreme Court
In a potential setback to Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati, the Supreme Court on Friday, in oral observations, said the former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh should reimburse the public money spent on erecting statues of herself and the party symbol, the elephant, in public places.
“Madam Mayawati, reimburse to the exchequer the public money you have spent on the elephants,” a bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi said.
“We are of tentative view that you (Mayawati) should pay the public money from your pocket,” CJI said.
The remarks were oral observations directed at senior advocate Rakesh Khanna, who was representing the leader in a 10-year-old public interest litigation (PIL) that alleged misuse of public money for installing the statues. The court asked Khanna to convey its views to Mayawati and fixed April 2 to hear the matter for its final disposal.
The court refused to fix a hearing in either the first or second week of May as had been requested by senior advocate Satish Mishra, a close aide to Mayawati. “We cannot have a hearing in May as the court goes on a long vacation. We would hear it in April,” the CJI said.
When Mishra insisted, the CJI responded: “Please do not force us to say anything more.”
The observations come at a time when Mayawati is preparing for the general elections in UP, which BSP will fight in an alliance with the Samajwadi Party (SP).
The SC was hearing advocate Ravi Kant’s PIL alleging misuse of crores of rupees of public money spent for installing the statues, including in a park in Noida, on the outskirts of Delhi. Filed in 2009, the PIL sought a restraint order against the installations, which Kant said was being done at the cost of the state exchequer. He asked for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe and also a directive to remove the statues.
Public money was spent to “falsely glorify” the then chief minister, Kant’s PIL alleged. Not only was it against the state policy, it even violated the Constitution, he said. The statues were installed at a cost of Rs 52.20 crore at public places.