SC junks CBI Maya probe
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Ending a nine-year-old legal battle by the CBI to nail former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati for corruption, the Supreme Court on Friday said it had never authorised the investigative agency to go on a "roving inquiry" into the assets of the BSP supremo.
In short, the apex court blamed the CBI's poor understanding of its orders for all the heat faced by Mayawati in the past nine years. The CBI had clearly jumped the gun, a Bench of Justices P Sathasivam and Dipak Misra said in their 34-page judgment.
The court pointed to how the CBI interpreted a September 18, 2003 order for investigation into the Taj Corridor scam as a green signal to embark on a no-holds-barred investigation into Mayawati's assets for the period between 1995 to 2003. All this, disregarding the fact that Mayawati was not even a party before the Supreme Court in the Taj Corridor case at the time.
The judgment stated how the CBI lodged two FIRs on the same day (October 5, 2003) on the strength of the single SC order— one FIR against the Taj Corridor officials and a second against Mayawati in person for possessing disproportionate assets outside her known income. The agency, the court said, had violated the basic tenet of law by allowing the FIR on disproportionate assets ride piggy-back on the Taj Corridor probe.
Justice Sathasivam agreed with Mayawati's contention that since both cases were separate, the CBI should have got prior consent of the state government to start an investigation into Mayawati's wealth. "In the absence of the consent of the state government, the whole exercise of the CBI of lodging FIR and investigating into the assets of Mayawati, which is not related to the Taj Corridor Project, is without jurisdiction," the court said, favouring the argument by BSP supremo's counsel Harish Salve. The judgment is in point-to-point agreement with Mayawati's stand that the SC had never ordered a CBI investigation into her assets. It vindicates Mayawati's consistent stand during the past decade that the September 18, 2003 order by the Supreme Court was only confined to the Taj Corridor case and did not endow CBI with the authority to probe her wealth. "She made several representations to the CBI officials, the state minister of Personnel and the Prime Minister drawing their attention that the SC had not given any such direction or authority to lodge an FIR and investigate the entire assets of Mayawati from the year 1995, which has no relation with the case of Taj Heritage Corridor Project which came into being only in August 2003," the court said in Mayawati's endeavour.
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