SC quashes DA case against Mayawati, terms CBI probe illegal

NEW DELHI, July 6: In a major relief to BSP supremo Mayawati, the Supreme Court today quashed a nine-year-long disproportionate assets case against her and pulled up the CBI for exceeding its jurisdiction by lodging an FIR against her without any direction from it.
The apex court said the DA case against Mayawati was “unwarranted” and the agency proceeded against her without properly understanding its orders which were confined to Taj Corridor case relating to the release of Rs 17 crore by UP government allegedly without sanction.
A bench of justices P Sathasivam and Deepak Mishra said that various Supreme Court orders pertained to initiating probe against state government officials in the scam and there was no such direction to lodge another FIR “exclusively” against Mayawati for allegedly amassing assets isproportionate to her known sources of income.
“We hold that in the absence of any specific direction from this Court in the order dated September 18, 2003 or any subsequent orders, the CBI has exceeded its jurisdiction in lodging the FIR,” the bench said adding “the impugned FIR is without jurisdiction and any investigation pursuant thereto is illegal and liable to be quashed, accordingly quashed.”
In the very begining of it 34-page judgement, the bench made it clear that it was just deciding whether DA case lodged by the CBI is beyond the scope of the directions passed by the apex court in 2003 in Taj Corridor case and it did not go into the merit of allegations made by agency against the former Chief Minister.
The apex court said there is no finding in the CBI’s status report of September 2003 pertaining to disproportionate assets of Mayawati.
“We are satisfied that there was no such finding or satisfaction recorded by this Court in the matter of disproportionate assets of the petitioner on the basis of the status report September 11, 2003,” the bench said.
“From the perusal of those orders, we are also satisfied that there could not have been any material before this Court about the disproportionate assets case of the petitioner beyond the Taj Corridor Project case and there was no such question or issue about disproportionate assets of the petitioner. In view of the same, giving any direction to lodge FIR relating to disproportionate assets case did not arise,” the bench said.
The Bench said, “this Court being the ultimate custodian of the fundamental rights did not issue any direction to the CBI to conduct a roving inquiry against the assets of the petitioner commencing from 1995 to 2003 even though the Taj Heritage Corridor Project was conceived only in July, 2002”.
It pulled up the investigating agency for lodging the case against Mayawati without any specific direction for the apex court.
“The method adopted by the CBI is unwarranted and without jurisdiction. We are also satisfied that the CBI has proceeded without proper understanding of various orders passed by this Court,” the bench said.
“We finally conclude that anything beyond the Taj Corridor matter was not the subject-matter of reference before the Taj Corridor Bench. Since the order dated September 19, 2003 does not contain any specific direction regarding lodging of FIR in the matter of disproportionate assets case against the petitioner, CBI is not justified in proceeding with the FIR,” the bench said.
An FIR was registered in 2002 against Mayawati and 11 others for allegedly misappropriating Rs 17 crore meant for the Taj Corridor Project and after the probe was over CBI had filed a report before a Lucknow court which had refused to accept it as there was no sanction from the Governor to prosecute her.
The petitions were filed against the refusal of Governor to grant santion to prosecute her before the apex court which had dismissed them.
Later PILs against the refusal to grant sanction for prosecution of Mayawati were filed in the Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court which are still pending.
The CBI had registered the DA case only against Mayawati, saying it was an offshoot of the earlier case. It had alleged there was “ample evidence” to show that she had amassed wealth disproportionate to her known sources of income.
The agency had said that her declared assets of Rs one crore in 2003 had gone up to Rs 50 crore in 2007. Mayawati had claimed she had received the money as donations from party workers.
The Bench further noted that the apex court had allowed CBI to bring to its notice if any link is disclosed between Taj Corridor Project and the assets but the agency failed to find any link between two.
“The fact remains that the investigation report filed by the CBI before this Court which was considered on October 25, 2004 shows that large-scale irregularities does not show any link between such irregularities and the Taj Corridor matter.
“The said finding/conclusion by this Court was based on the investigation report of the CBI. In view of the same, we are satisfied that CBI cannot be permitted to take the view that two cases, namely, Taj Corridor and Disproportionate Assets case are same and the investigation was done in both the cases as per the directions of this Court,” the bench said.
Mayawati had approached the apex court in May 2008 seeking quashing of the criminal proceedings against her in the DA case lodged by the CBI nine years ago. She had alleged it was an act of political vendetta against her.
Allowing Mayawati plea, the bench said that probe done against her is illegal and quashed proceeding against her.
“….As there being no consideration of alleged disproportionate assets at any stage of the proceedings while dealing with the Taj Corridor matter, there could not have been and in fact there was no such direction to lodge another FIR exclusively against the petitioner under the P.C. Act,” the bench said.
“We are satisfied that reading of all the orders of this Court clearly show the direction to lodge FIR was issued only with respect to Taj Corridor matter, more particularly, irregularities therein,” the bench said adding that all orders pertain to interrogation and verification of assets of the officers/persons relating to release of Rs. 17 crores in connection with Taj Corridor matter.
The court had reserved its judgment on May 1, this year after hearing both the sides.
In its judgement, the Bench noted the political graph of Mayawati who served the state as CM thrice after entering politics in 1984 and also became MP of both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha of which she is a member now.
Mayawati had said the bench should direct the CBI to consider the aspect of order passed by the Income Tax Tribunal holding that her income was genuine. The order had also been upheld by the Delhi High Court, she had said.
The CBI, in its last affidavit filed on September 13, 2011, had alleged there was a “criminal nexus” between Mayawati and her relatives and the disproportionate assets case against her could not be closed on the basis of conclusions arrived at by the Income Tax Department. (PTI)


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