New Delhi: The Supreme Court has dismissed the case against Mayawati that charged the former chief minister with massive corruption and owning assets that cannot be explained against her sources of income. The judges said that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was not justified in filing the case against the politician in the first place. They stressed that the CBI's case against her was illegal and without jurisdiction.
"There was no direction to the CBI to conduct a probe into the petitioner's assets. The agency had only been directed to probe the Taj Corridor case. There's no material against her available to this court," the judges said.
In Lucknow, Mayawati gave what amounted to a victory speech. "This is the right decision," she said, "I wholeheartedly thank all my party members. My party members stood like a hard rock beside me and never left me in any of the circumstances and backed me during this case even after facing lots of ups and downs since 9-10 years."
The Samajwadi Party, which is presently in power in Uttar Pradesh, blamed the CBI for the lapses. "This is not Mayawati's victory but CBI's defeat, as the investigation agency committed technical errors," Samajwadi Party leader Shahid Siddiqui said. "Now, did the CBI commit this error on purpose to save Mayawati or was it a genuine mistake, these questions need to be answered," he added.
Mayawati has been arguing that the case against her is politically motivated. In 2008, she asked the Supreme Court to cancel the investigation into her wealth.
In 2002, the Supreme Court ordered the CBI to investigate what's known as the Taj Corridor case. Mayawati has been accused of swindling money that was meant to develop and upgrade the area and tourist facilities near the Taj Mahal. The project was then cancelled for environmental reasons. As a spin-off from that case, the CBI filed a case against her accusing her of misusing her term as chief minister for personal gain.
The CBI had filed its case against Mayawati when she was chief minister of Uttar Pradesh in 2004. Income tax officials however ruled in her favour; so did the Delhi High Court. The CBI, however, argued that it had enough evidence to prove the leader was guilty of graft. Its officers said that her declared assets leap-frogged from Rs. 1 crore in 2003 to Rs. 50 crores in 2007 - a period during which she was in power in UP. Mayawati said that much of the money that was being questioned had been donated to her by workers of her Bahujan Samaj Party or BSP.
In September last year, the CBI said in court that 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 reached by the Income Tax Department.
Accusations of an administration seeped in graft cost Mayawati heavily - she was voted out of power in March this year in a record defeat for her party. She was replaced by Akhilesh Yadav, the 39-year-old son of her political rival, Mulayam Singh Yadav.
WikiLeaks in September last year had posted a cable sent to the US Home Department in October 2008. Based on conversations with UP journalists, diplomats said that the chief minister had allegedly hired a plane to bring her a favourite pair of sandals from a shop in Mumbai.