The Supreme Court Friday said it was of the prima facie view that BSP chief Mayawati should reimburse public money that was spent on installing statues of herself and elephants, the party’s symbol, in Lucknow and Noida. The bench headed by Chief Justice of India Gogoi made it clear that it was a tentative view and that the matter will be heard for a final hearing on April 2.
The Mayawati government had built multiple Dalit memorials, including statues of BSP founder Kanshi Ram and BSP’s election symbol ‘elephant’, when she was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh between 2007 and 2012. The memorials and statues were built at a cost of over Rs 2,600 crore in Lucknow, Noida, and a few other places in the state.
The remarks were made by a bench hearing a petition filed by an advocate who had contended that public money cannot be utilised for building own statues and for propagating a political party.
“We are of the tentative view that Mayawati has to deposit the public money spent on her statues and party symbol to the state exchequer,” the bench also comprising of justices Deepka Gupta and Sanjeev Khanna said. The bench made it clear the tentative view was expressed by it as the matter will take some time for hearing. “We will have it for final disposal on April 2,” the bench said.
A complaint from the vigilance department had alleged a “memorial scam” and said that the state had suffered losses of close to Rs 111 crore in such constructions. Acting on the complaint, the ED filed a criminal case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) to investigate the matter. The report indicted 199 individuals, including Mayawati’s then close aides and former ministers Naseemuddin Siddiqui and Babu Singh Kushwaha, and 12 of her party MLAs for alleged “wrong-doings’ in the purchase of sandstone for the memorials.