Court scraps probe against Mayawati, BSP chief elated (Roundup)
New Delhi/Lucknow, July 6 (IANS) In a major breather for Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati, the Supreme Court Friday dismissed a nine-year-old corruption case in which she was charged with embezzling public funds meant for the development of the Taj heritage corridor.
The Supreme Court, which stopped the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe against her, also pulled up the agency for overstepping its jurisdiction.
While an elated Mayawati said that justice had finally been done, Uttar Pradesh's ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) accused the probe agency of "technical errors" in its probe, leading to the former chief minister getting away.
Scrapping the first information report (FIR), a bench of Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Dipak Misra described the filing of another FIR against Mayawati for amassing wealth by corrupt means as illegal and without jurisdiction.
The court upheld Mayawati's contention that the FIR against her filed by the CBI was mala fide and the misreading of the apex court's orders in the Taj heritage corridor case.
Slamming the CBI, the court said that in the registration of the "unwarranted" second FIR, the investigating agency exceeded its jurisdiction and its action was illegal.
"We finally conclude that anything beyond the Taj corridor matter was not the subject-matter of reference before the Taj corridor bench," it said.
"...after reading all the orders of this court which are available in the 'compilation', we are satisfied that this court being the ultimate custodian of the fundamental rights did not issue any direction to the CBI to conduct a roving inquiry against the assets of the petitioner (Mayawati) commencing from 1995 to 2003..."
Mayawati was charged with embezzling funds meant to upgrade tourist facilities near the famous Agra monument and using them to amass assets in her and her family members' name.
In Lucknow, a beaming Mayawati thanked the apex court, as well as her party members for their unflinching support.
"I welcome the Supreme Court decision and I would like to pay my thanks to honourable Supreme Court for showing faith in us and giving the right decision... It was justice after nine years," she told reporters.
"I wholeheartedly thank all my party members. My party members stood like a hard rock beside me and never left me in any of the circumstances and backed me during this case even after facing lots of ups and downs in nine-10 years," she said.
Thanking her lawyer Harish Salve and party general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra, she said she had all through maintained that this was a "political conspiracy".
Hitting out at the CBI, SP leader Shahid Siddiqui said: "This is not Mayawati's victory but CBI's defeat, as the investigation agency committed technical errors. The CBI was supposed to investigate irregularities in the development of the Taj Corridor. However, a probe into her assets was initiated."
"Now, did the CBI commit this error on purpose to save Mayawati or was it a genuine mistake, these questions need to be answered," he added.
The Congress stressed that the court's ruling must be respected.
Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid termed the apex court judgment "of the highest order", but refused to comment on it, saying he has not read it.
Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahay said: "People may think of court's decisions as beneficial or harmful, but the fact remains that we have to respect it."
The Bharatiya Janata Party rubbished the BSP's allegation that the case was a conspiracy against Mayawati by the then National Democratic Alliance government.
"Allegations by the BSP are not true. In 2003, the NDA government was there only for a few months. Since then the UPA has been in power for eight years, which Mayawati has been supporting," BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.
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