The Bahujan Samajwadi Party leader Mayawati will have to cough up and pay back to the public exchequer the money she spent on erecting statues of herself and party symbol ‘elephant’ in public parks across Lucknow and Noida.
A Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, posted the petition filed by Supreme Court advocate Ravi Kant in 2009, alleging that public money to the tune of crores of rupees was spent by then Uttar Pradesh chief minister on these acts of self-aggrandisement.
“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,” a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said. “Pay all the money from your pocket,” the Chief Justice said.
The bench, also comprising justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjeev Khanna, will hear the case next on April 2.
The BSP leader had built memorials to Dalit icons and embellished hundreds of parks with statues not only of elephants, but also her own and that of her mentor Kanshi Ram during her stint in power from 2007 to 2012,
Several appeals were filed in courts for blatant misuse of public money. Her bitter rival, Samajwadi chief Akhilesh Yadav had claimed that she had spent nothing less than 40,000 crore.
Mayawati had denied the allegations, but she had not revealed the amount spent on memorials.
The Bahujan Samaj Party had later told the Supreme Court that the full expenditure on the statues was based on the budget passed by the Uttar Pradesh assembly.
The current petition was filed in 2009 by two advocates, Ravikant and Sukumar.
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In 2012, the Election Commission had ordered that all Mayawati and elephant statues be covered before the assembly elections in the state in order to provide a level-playing field for all parties. Yadav’s Samajwadi Party had swept the election.
Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav have now joined hands to fight the BJP in Uttar Pradesh in the national elections.