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Supreme Court may order Mayawati to pay for statues depicting herself and BSP party symbol



[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The Supreme Court today (Friday, Feb 8) said it was of the “tentative view” that Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) chief Mayawati should pay back to the public exchequer the money she spent on erecting statues of herself and her party’s symbol ‘elephant’ in public parks across Lucknow and Noida.

This comes on top of a probe by the Enforcement Directorate Mayawati is facing over alleged financial irregularities in the construction of parks and memorials commissioned during her stint as Uttar Pradesh chief minister from 2007-12.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi was hearing a petition filed by Supreme Court advocate Ravi Kant in 2009, alleging that crores of public money was spent by then Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati on these acts of self-aggrandisement. He contended that public money cannot be utilised for building own statues and for propagating a political party.

“We are of the tentative view that Mayawati has to deposit the public money spent on her statues and party symbol to the State exchequer,” said CJI Gogoi. The Bench, also comprising Justices Deepka Gupta and Sanjeev Khanna, made it clear the tentative view was expressed by it as the matter will take some time for hearing. “We will have it for final disposal on April 2,” the bench said.

Kant has alleged that about Rs 2,000 crore was used from the State budget for 2008-09 and 2009-10 to ‘falsely glorify’ the then CM. The petitioner has said the State government should be directed to remove the statues of Mayawati and her party symbol ‘elephant’ from public land.

“The said activity is being carried out as a State policy, which is arbitrary and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. Sixty statues of elephant were installed at a cost of Rs 52.20 crore at public places by utilising State funds,” the petition had alleged in 2009.

While it is unclear whether the court would ask Mayawati to be personally present in court for the proceedings or indeed order her to cough up the monies her government spent on construction of enormous, self-dedicated, memorials, the view expressed by the top court certainly comes as a major setback for the BSP chief ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Mayawati’s fourth stint as UP chief minister between 2007 and 2012 had been widely criticized for the huge amounts of public money her government spent on building parks and memorials in Lucknow, Noida and other parts of the state which were all decked up with massive statues of Dalit icons, BSP founder Kanshi Ram, Mayawati and elephants.

Several petitions had, at the time, challenged the construction of these parks and the extensive use of elephant statues were touted as violation of election commission rules as many saw them as Mayawati’s move to etch her party’s poll symbol strongly into public memory. However, since the elephant statues were not an exact replica of her poll symbol, Mayawati had got reprieve from various courts and the poll panel on their construction. She had also stoutly defended her bizarre decision of getting her own statues installed at these parks while her opponents sought to mock her by claiming that, in Indian tradition, statues of only the deceased are erected.

The BSP’s rout in the 2012 assembly polls was largely attributed to the electorate’s agony against the huge wastage of public money on these memorials, seen as a self-aggrandizing agenda. While it was speculated at the time that the Samajwadi Party government which came to power after Mayawati’s defeat would demolish her statues, then chief minister Akhilesh Yadav had made it clear that he would let the statues stay since a huge amount of public money had already been spent on them.

With Mayawati and Akhilesh now joining hands to take on the common enemy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP, in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, the two satraps from Uttar Pradesh are facing various probes for alleged irregularities that had occurred during their respective stints as chief minister.

In January, the Enforcement Directorate had raided half a dozen places in Lucknow in a bid to recover documents related to the construction of memorials by the Mayawati regime. The raids had come close on the heels on the CBI launching an inquiry into the alleged role of Akhilesh Yadav in illegal mining in Uttar Pradesh. Predictably, both Mayawati and Akhilesh had said that the raids were the result of political vendetta by the BJP.

The Enforcement Department has filed a criminal case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act to investigate the alleged irregularities flagged by the state vigilance department in 2014 over construction of the memorials. The vigilance department complaint, prepared during the tenure of Akhilesh Yadav’s chief ministership, had claimed that Uttar Pradesh suffered losses of around Rs. 111 crore in the construction of Mayawati’s Dalit memorials between 2007 and 2012. As per one UP government estimate, the overall cost of building the memorials across the state was in the vicinity of a staggering Rs. 2,600 crore.

The UP Lokayukta had also indicted two cabinet colleagues of Mayawati – Nasmeedunin Siddiqui and Babu Singh Kushwaha – besides 12 of her party lawmakers for alleged “’wrong-doings”’ in the purchase of sandstone for the memorials.

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With the Supreme Court now indicating that it may ask Mayawati to personally cough up the money her government spent on the memorials, the BSP supremo may well be staring at a major crisis as her party’s financial muscle is known to be on a steady decline since she lost power in 2012. Faced with a political adversary like the BJP which has earned millions in political donations over the past four and half years of its rule at the Centre, Mayawati knows she needs a robust treasury to help her party’s candidates fight the upcoming polls. However, if a large chuck of her party’s wealth has to be deposited with the BJP-led UP government’s coffers, her Lok Sabha battle may be significantly dented.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

India News

Police vehicles torched as violence erupts between 2 groups in Maharashtra’s Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar



Police and public vehicles were reportedly set ablaze by the mob as violent clashes erupted between two groups outside a temple in Maharashtra’s Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar on Wednesday night, reports said.

As per reports, an altercation between two groups escalated outside a Ram Temple in Kiradpura area of Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar and resulted in the two sides hurling stones at each other as more people joined the clashes.

According to the police the mob also set ablaze several police and public vehicles outside the temple and the police had to fire tear smoke shells to pacify the situation and disperse the mob.

A senior official said that four people who sustained injuries in the incident and were hospitalized, have been discharged after receiving medical attention.

He said that fire services were called to the scene to douse the burning vehicle and a heavy deployment of police personnel has been made and security beefed up to prevent any riots or untoward incidents from taking place.

CP Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar Nikhil Gupta told news agency ANI that a clash broke out between two groups in Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar’s Kiradpura area during which stones were pelted by both sides and the mob torched some private and police vehicles.

The officer said the police was compelled to use force and fire tear gas shells to disperse the rioters and the situation is peaceful, adding that strict action will be taken against the miscreants.

The senior officer said all the “miscreants” have been removed and situation is under control while also appealing the people to maintain calm and peace.

In a video shared on Twitter, AIMIM’s National Corporator Mohammed Naseeruddin Twitter said that Aurangabad MP Imtiaz Jaleel went to the Ram temple following which false news was spread that the temple was attacked by some miscreants.

Police and local administration have appealed the people to maintain calm and not to believe rumors.

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Congress MLA Jignesh Mevani acquitted in 2017 rally case

A Gujarat sessions court, Wednesday, overturned a lower court sentence and conviction of Congress MLA Jignesh Mevani and nine others in a case of unlawful assembly for taking out a public rally without the permission of the police in 2017.



Congress MLA Jignesh Mevani

A Gujarat sessions court, Wednesday, overturned a lower court sentence and conviction of Congress MLA Jignesh Mevani and nine others in a case of unlawful assembly for taking out a public rally without the permission of the police in 2017.

Setting aside the lower court judgement, a sessions court in Mehsana district observed that debates and bona fide criticism of government actions are essential for the existence of democracy while also quoting former US President Abraham Lincoln: “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and under a just God, cannot long retain it.”

The sessions court in its judgement noted that the prosecution’s entire case was baseless and lacked any substance or evidence.

Additional Sessions Judge CM Pawar allowed the appeal of Jignesh Mevani, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Reshma Patel, and others against the May 2022 order of a judicial magistrate court which had convicted and sentenced them for three-months in jail under sections 143 (unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

In July 2017, an FIR was lodged against Dalit rights activist Jignesh Mevani and others at the Mehsana ‘A’ division police station for taking out an “Azadi march” in support of landless farmers of the area, without police permission, from Mehsana town to Dhanera in Banaskantha district.

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Mevani and other accused had sought permission from authorities to organise a rally under the banner of Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch to air grievances of members of the Dalit community.

Jignesh Mevani—a prominent Dalit leader—is also a working president of the Gujarat Congress.

An executive magistrate via an order June 27, 2017 granted the permission for the rally, however, it was rescinded on July 7 of that year on grounds of public disorder but Mevani and others persisted and went ahead with their planned rally leading to an FIR against them for unlawful assembly under section 143 of the IPC.

Mevani, at the time, was an independent legislator from Banaskantha district’s Vadgam and was reelected from the same constituency on Congress ticket in the December 2022 elections.

Justice Pawar in his ruling observed that “deliberations, discussions, debates and bona fide dissent against policies of government and even bona fide criticism of action of government are essential for the existence of democracy in the nation.”

The sessions judge also highlighted the misuse of power and process of law by authorities for suppressing the voice of people, and noted showing “dominance of power” is not unknown even in a democratic set up.

The judge noted that in a democracy elected leaders meant to serve the people not to rule them, adding that a democratic nation is duty-bound to “protect the rights of citizens without any fear of criticism for survival of the ethos of democracy in the nation.”

He observed that right of freedom will be nullified in a democracy if dissent or peaceful protest is branded as an offence.

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Stressed by exams, medical student jumps to death in Pune: Police

A first-year medical student, apparently stressed out due to examinations and studies, allegedly jumped to her death from the terrace of a government-run college in Pune on Wednesday morning, officials said.



Pune medical student death

A first-year medical student, apparently stressed out due to examinations and studies, allegedly jumped to her death from the terrace of a government-run college in Pune on Wednesday morning, officials said.

According to the police, the deceased—a 21-year-old student at Pune’s government-run B J Medical College purportedly died of suicide after she jumped from the terrace of the Sassoon General Hospital, which is attached to the college on Wednesday morning.

A senior police official said the young student was distressed from the past few days to due pressure of examinations and studies and unfortunately resorted to taking such an extreme step, instead of seeking counselling and help.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Smartana Patil said the deceased, a first-year medical student, was apparently stressed due to the pressure of studies and was often found crying during the past three-four days.

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DCP Patil said the deceased girl’s parents had asked her to appear in exams even if she was unprepared which and even provided her psychiatric help and were by her side for the past three days.

The officer said her parents also took her to a psychiatrist for consultation and did not leave her side for the past week and also accompanied her to college on the fateful day, however, she somehow managed to give them the slip and went to the terrace of Sassoon General Hospital where she jumped to her death.

The victim sustained grievous injuries in the fall and was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) where she succumbed to her injuries, the officer said, adding that prima facie, the case is being treated as a suicide, however, no suicide note was recovered from the scene.

Officer Patil said a case of suicide and accidental death has been registered in this regard and further investigation is ongoing.

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