New Delhi, Jan. 28: The Taj corridor controversy today returned to haunt Mayawati, with the Supreme Court deciding to “examine… afresh” a plea to prosecute the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister in the alleged 2003 scam.
The court asked the CBI and the central government as well as the BSP chief and her then cabinet colleague Naseemuddin Siddiqui to respond within four weeks on the appeal filed by an advocate, Kamlesh Verma.
Verma had challenged an Allahabad High Court order, which held that Mayawati couldn’t be prosecuted as then governor T.V. Rajeshwar had refused sanction.
“We have to examine the issue afresh,” the bench of Justices H.L. Dattu and Ranjan Gogoi said after senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, who appeared for Mayawati, opposed the petition.
The scandal relates to alleged illegal sanction of Rs 17 crore by Mayawati for the purported development of the corridor near the historic monument at an estimated cost of Rs 175 crore in violation of norms.
The remaining amount was not disbursed as the project got embroiled in controversy. Siddiqui, now an MLA, was in charge of the project.
Counsel Kamini Jaiswal, who appeared for the petitioner, said there was no need for sanction to prosecute the accused under the IPC sections. She said the high court “went astray” in ignoring an apex court ruling that there was no immunity for alleged criminal acts by public servants.
Mayawati had taken the stand that she couldn’t be prosecuted as the amount was released as part of her official discharge of duties.
Jaiswal said the apex court has to determine a substantial question of law: whether the expression “acting or purporting to act in the discharge of … official duty” used in CrPC Section 197(1) can be referred to every such offence in the penal code? Or only those that have reasonable connection with a public servant’s “discharge of official duty”?
The petition said if the high court’s order was not quashed, it would “cause grave miscarriage” of justice. “Irreparable injury will not only be caused to the petitioner but would also defeat public interest.”