New Delhi, Aug. 22: Pressure mounted on Mayavati today as the Central Vigilance Commission contradicted the CBI and the attorney-general and recommended her prosecution in the Taj corridor scandal.
The recommendation was given to a Supreme Court bench that had referred the matter to the CVC after attorney-general Milon K. Banerjee concurred with the CBI director that the heritage corridor scam case against the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister should be closed.
The CBI advice had set off a storm with the Opposition alleging that the government was trying to suck up to Mayavati to forge an alliance.
Mayavati’s party, the BSP, supports the UPA from outside. UPA partner Laloo Prasad Yadav has been trying to court the BSP in the run-up to the Bihar elections, expected later this year.
The CVC is an autonomous body but its recommendation to prosecute Mayavati is expected to add a sense of urgency to her search for a political ally.
A decision on the status of 13 BSP legislators who defected to the Samajwadi Party is also expected soon. A verdict either way ' disqualification or approval ' will lead to political churning in Uttar Pradesh.
The vigilance commission also recommended prosecution of former state environment minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui and former state environment secretary R.K. Sharma but cleared a few other officials linked to the Taj corridor case.
The scandal related to a Rs 175-crore project that sought to build near the Taj Mahal a corridor lined with shopping malls and recreation centres for tourists.
Mayavati’s counsel K.K. Venugopal challenged the power and the jurisdiction of the CVC to recommend prosecution of any person when the investigating agency and the attorney-general have opined otherwise.
“However, a court could ask for the report recommending closure of the case and if there is prima facie any lacuna in it, then only it can order further investigation. The CVC could not have done this as it is neither an investigating agency nor a policing and prosecuting body,” Venugopal said.
The court agreed to hear Mayavati and the others before directing the CBI whether it should proceed with the case on the basis of the CVC recommendation.
The judges gave Mayavati’s counsel a week to file a formal petition. The CVC will reply to the petition a week thereafter, following which hearing would resume.
The commission concurred with the CBI in closing the cases against former Uttar Pradesh chief secretary D.S. Bagga, Mayavati’s former personal secretary P.L. Punia and former Union environment secretary K.C. Mishra.