This is not the first time the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Mayawati had faced a CBI investigation: she had been investigated twice before in connection with the Taj Heritage Corridor case and the disproportionate assets (DA) case. The DA case arises out of the Taj Corridor case.
CBI sleuths had conducted searches at Mayawati’s house and questioned her during the probe. She could not be prosecuted in the Taj Corridor case because the then UP Governor TV Rajeswar had refused to sanction the prosecution.
In the DA case, the Supreme Court quashed the FIR case stating that agency proceeded against Mayawati without properly understanding its order which were confined to the Taj Corridor case. A revision has been filed in the Supreme Court.
In July 2003, the Supreme Court ordered a CBI inquiry into the Taj Heritage Corridor case on the basis of PIL filed by Delhi-based lawyer Ajay Garwal. It was alleged that the government had already spent Rs 74 crore on the project while no construction was done. The court then ordered a detailed investigation.
In 2002, Mayawati during her tenure as CM had launched the corridor project to beautify areas near the Taj Mahal. The Taj Corridor project was intended to upgrade tourist facilities near the Taj Mahal.
On the court’s direction, the CBI lodged an FIR against Mayawati, then environment minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui, former principal secretary to CM PL Punia, former principal secretary of environment R K Sharma and former environment secretary Rajendra Prasad.
In 2007, the agency had filed a chargesheet in a special CBI court in Lucknow, against Mayawati, Naseemuddin Siddiqui, RK Sharma, Rajendra Prasad under IPC sections 420, 467, 468 and 471. The chargesheet had stated that the accused had siphoned off Rs 175 crore under the pretext of constructing a corridor around the Taj Mahal and other monuments in Agra, causing loss to the government exchequer. However, once, Governor Rajeswar had refused to sanction prosecution, the special CBI court dropped the proceedings.
A bunch of PILs were filed before the Lucknow bench of the High Court against the special CBI court’s order. The petitioner had urged the court to quash the orders of the special CBI court and to direct the CBI to take the prosecution to “its logical conclusion”. But in November, 2012, the Lucknow High Court dismissed the PILs ruling that the petitions were ‘devoid of merit’.
An appeal against the High Court has been filed and matter is pending in Supreme Court, according to advocate CB Pandey, the petitioner’s counsel.