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Mayawati moves apex court to stall Taj corridor scam trial
Published on 12 Oct. 2009 11:32 PM IST
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Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati has moved the Supreme Court challenging an Allahabad High Court decision to entertain a lawsuit seeking revival of a corruption case in the multi-crore Taj Heritage Corridor scam. Mayawati approached the apex court over the weekend against the Sep 18 order of the Lucknow bench of the high court, which issued notices to her and her cabinet colleague Nasimuddin Siddique seeking their stand on a public interest lawsuit questioning former governor T.V. Rajeswar’s June 2007 denial of sanction to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to prosecute them for their alleged role in the corruption case. The public interest lawsuit, on which the high court’s division bench of Justice Pradeep Kant and Justice Shabibul Hasan had issued the notices, was filed by Lucknow residents Kamlesh Verma, Anupama Singh and Qateel Ahmed. The trio have also questioned the designated CBI Lucknow court’s decision against taking cognizance of the CBI chargesheet against Mayawati and others, indicting them for their acts of omission and commission in the corruption case. They also questioned the court’s 2007 order to the probe agency to seek the governor’s sanction to prosecute Mayawati at a time when she was not a chief minister. Mayawati has approached the apex court questioning the locus standi of the three petitioners to question the decision of the state governor and the CBI court in a criminal matter through a public interest lawsuit. In her lawsuit, the chief minister has also contended that the high court was not entitled to entertain the public interest suit questioning the decisions of the state governor and the CBI court in a criminal matter. She contended that if anybody was entitled to question the decisions of the governor or the CBI court it was the bureau itself, which chose not to do so. And since the deadline to question the governor’s order had passed after the lapse of 30 days from June 3, 2007, no plea for revival of the corruption case could be made against her at any forum, she contended. She told the apex court that even its three-judge bench, headed by erstwhile Justice S.B. Sinha, had refused on Oct 10, 2007 to interfere with the governor’s denial of sanction to prosecute her. The three-judge bench of the apex court, which had ordered the CBI in September 2003 to probe the Taj Corridor scam, had ruled that it was not legally entitled to examine the legality of Governor Rajeshwar’s order denying sanction to prosecute Mayawati. The bench had pointed out that the legal issue was to be decided by a magisterial court and not the apex court. The bench, however, had hoped then that the CBI would challenge the governor’s order before other appropriate courts, including the Allahabad High Court. In fact, it had also said that in case the CBI refused to exercise this discretion, there was all possibility of the matter being brought to some appropriate court’s notice through a public interest lawsuit. “A judicial order passed by a magistrate may be right or wrong, but having regard to the hierarchy of the courts, the matter which would fall for consideration before the higher court should not be a subject matter of a decision of this bench,” the bench had said. “In an unlikely event of the interested parties (CBI) in not questioning such orders before the higher forum, an independent public interest litigation may be filed. Instances are not unknown where this court has entertained public interest litigation in cases involving similar question under Article 32 of the Constitution of India,” the court had hoped. The ambitious 2002-03 Taj Heritage Corridor was to house a shopping mall close to the Taj Mahal, but the project was abandoned amid allegations of large-scale corruption and after a hue and cry that it would endanger the monument.

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