Mayawati In Dock Again Over Statues

SC asks BSP to prove that the expenditure was approved by the Legislature

New Delhi : Installation of 40 statues of BSP chief and former UP chief minister Mayawati, her mentor late Kanshi Ram and her party symbol elephant at an estimated cost of Rs.2600 cr is back on the scanner of the Supreme Court.

The Bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu was initially inclined to dispose off a pending Public Interest Litigation (PIL) since 2009 in the matter, but it decided to ‘keep the PIL for detailed hearing on January 22’ when the BSP lawyer insisted that the entire expenditure was based on the budget passed by the legislature that the court can’t examine.

The lawyer claimed the cost for construction of the statues was cleared by the Legislature and as such it was by the common will of the legislators. “What role the court has in it”, he asked. The Chief Justice flared up to assert that this was a serious issue. “How do you justify it (building of statues with public money”, he asked and fixed the date for further hearing.

On board was a PIL filed in 2009 by lawyer Ravi Kant, seeking removal of the statues and a CBI probe into misuse of public money by a political party. The court had issued notice to Mayawati on June 30, 2009. It now decided to hear out the matter, directing the petitioner to come prepared with evidence that the statues were built with public money since the BSP has claimed that the major share of the expenditure came from the party funds.

It also directed the BSP to furnish proof that the entire expenditure was from the appropriation bill passed by the Legislature and also details of spending from the party funds. The BSP had earlier told the court that its supremo felt that the statues are ‘symbol of Dalit assertion’.

The petitioner had contended in his PIL that the statues were of no use and the expenditure on them was sheer misuse of public money and land while the expenditure on them could have wiped out poverty of thousands of people, provide basic amenities and education.

“By putting so many statues of a particular leader of a particular party in public land, premises and parks, these properties are converted into private property of the said political party, which amounts to grabbing of public property by misusing the powers of the State”, the PIL contended.

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