M A I N   N E W S

Taj Corridor
Breather for Maya
Governor refuses nod for prosecution
Shahira Naim/Tribune News Service

Lucknow, June 5
In the Taj Heritage Corridor case the CBI court today cleared the names of the Chief Minister Mayawati and her cabinet colleague Naseemuddin Siddiqui following Governor T.V. Rajeswar declining to sanction their prosecution on the ground that here was ‘no prima-facie case’ to charge Mayawati of conspiracy, cheating and forgery.

With this the Disproportionate Assets case against Mayawati also comes to a logical end, claimed senior cabinet colleague and legal expert S.C. Mishra as the DA case was linked to the Taj case.

In a major relief coming after a four-year long political-legal drama which had kept the BSP chief and now the Chief Minister constantly on the edge, the CBI court today declared that in the absence of the sanction of the competent authority, in the case of Mayawati and Siddiqui it being the governor, ‘this court has no jurisdiction either to take cognizance or to proceed further’.

Declaring this to be the virtual exoneration of Mayawati in the case, Mishra pointed out that in such a case there was no scope for appeal in any other court.

In case of the other accused person, then secretary Environment R.K. Sharma, who is now a principal secretary with the state government, the court has fixed July 5 as the date for further proceedings.

In his 22-page long order under section 197 of the CrPC and under the Section 19 (1) Prevention of Corruption Act 1988, in CBI case no. RC 0062003A0018 popularly known as the Taj Heritage Corridor, the Governor has admitted to seek the legal opinion of Additional Solicitor General of India Gopal Subramanium who in turn had asked for all the relevant documents and statements recorded by the CBI.

To avoid any controversy Rajeswar has clearly stated upfront that, “when Governor functions as competent authority for grant of sanction against a Chief Minister under Section 197 of the CrPC he cannot be said to be bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers”. He observes, “The grant of sanction is not an idle formality but is a serious exercise”.

Drawing out the time line of the project, the Governor has mentioned, that exploratory proposals regarding the TTZ were going on since 1996 while Mayawati had been sworn in as the Chief Minister for the third time in May 2002.

Rajeswar has argued that the statements of then principal secretary to CM Mayawati P.L. Punia and then chief secretary D.S. Bagga “clearly show that Mayawati gave her approval if at all, only to the decisions of Mission Management Board (MMB) dated 12.10.2002 which dealt with preparations of Detailed Project Reports (DPR) and not for the commencement of work.

Severely indicting to R.K. Sharma, the Governor’s order notes “a separate file was floated by the Environment Department for releasing of funds to the extent of Rs 17 crore for the commencement of work and for compilation of DPRs and Techno Feasibility Reports, signed by R.K. Sharma on 1.11.2002. But this order of the Environment Secretary releasing Rs 17 cores for the said purpose was not shown either to the Chief Secretary, Environment Minister or the Chief Minister”.

P.L Punia who has retired and joined the Congress also comes for criticism.

Calling the approval of the CM as recorded by Punia on 31 October 2002 as the “crux of the whole case as far as Mayawati is concerned”, the Governor’s order notes the contradictory statements recorded by Punia first on 26 August 2003 and later under Section 161 CrPC on 17 May 2004.

During the first statement Punia had categorically stated “he did not show the file to Mayawati and recorded approval on her behalf, without consulting the Chief Minister because in his opinion it was merely a routine matter”.

In the second statement Punia maintained to have made the first statement under pressure and now claimed that he had not only shown the file but explained the contents to the then CM.

However, the Governor has noted that “even if it is presumed that the papers which were put up to P.L. Punia on 31.10.2002 for getting the approval pf the Chief Minister were seen by Mayawati and approval was given by her, I do not consider it an offence since both Punia and D.S. Bagga, Chief Secretary had categorically stated that the approval was not for commencement of work at the project site but was only for commencement of work on preparation of DPRs/TFRs”.



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