SC steers clear of statues
10 Jul 2009, 2355 hrs IST, TNN NEW DELHI: Two weeks after it sought her response to a PIL questioning her fetish for statues of herself and dalit leaders at a huge cost to the
exchequer, the Supreme Court on Friday gave enough reason for Mayawati to smile about as it refused to stay installation of her statues at Noida and Lucknow. The same petitioners -- Ravi Kant and Sukumar -- on whose PIL SC had issued notice to Mayawati and her government on June 29, again moved an application before a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice P Sathasivam and sought stay on installation of her statue at a prime park opposite Noida's posh Sector 15 residential colony. If they got a sympathetic hearing on June 29 from a vacation Bench headed by Justice Dalveer Bhandari, the Bench headed by CJI on Friday matter-of-factly told them that the court's jurisdiction to interfere in such matters was very limited. "If a democratically elected government takes a decision and the House approves it, there is little the courts could do unless diversion or misappropriation of public fund is involved," the Bench said and posted the application seeking stay on the installation of statues along with the main petition. Senior advocates Harish Salve and Satish Chandra Mishra were quick to spin a pun for the petitioners and had even the Bench smirking. "Earlier, people used to challenge the validity of statutes, but now they are challenging the validity of statues," Salve said. The Bench said the petitioners, instead of moving the Supreme Court, should have approached the Allahabad High Court, which was already seized of similar matters. The petitioners had alleged that spending over Rs 1,200 crore from the exchequer on statues by the government was irresponsible, especially when UP had the largest population -- 59 million -- living below the poverty line. They also detailed how massive money was being spent on installing statues of Mayawati and Kanshi Ram in various parks of Lucknow -- Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar Samajik Parivartan Sthal, Manyawar Kanshi Ram Memorial at Alambag, Kanshi Ram Bahujan Nayak Park, Ramabai Ambedkar Rally Maidan, Kanshi Ram Sanskritik Sthal, Dr Ambedkar Samajik Parivartan Prattek Sthal, Manywar Kanshi Ram Yaadgar Vishram Sthal, Buddha Sthal, Eco Park, Samatak Mulak Churaha and Dr Ambedkar Chauraha, Buddha Shanti Upwan and Prerna Sthal.