Thursday, August 6, 2009

EC seeks Mayawati’s comments

EC seeks Mayawati’s comments
J. Balaji
NEW DELHI: The Election Commission has sought comments from Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Bahujan Samaj Party president Mayawati by August 12 on a petition alleging that she violated the EC orders by installing permanent structures of the BSP’s election symbol (elephant) and her own statues in various parts of the State on government land at the government’s expense.
The EC has also forwarded a copy of the petition, filed by advocates Ravi Kant and Sukumar, to Ms. Mayawati along with the letter, EC sources said.
The petitioners claimed that the installation of the statues in public places by spending crores from the State exchequer, violating the EC’s order on April 1, 2009, would severely violate the Model Code of Conduct for elections.EC’s order
They quoted the EC’s order which read: “The underlying intention of the [Election] Commission’s instruction was that photographs and images of political functionaries, who have deep influence on minds of electors and many of whom are still active in public life and may even be contesting the current general elections, should not be displayed in government buildings and premises, as that would have the effect of disturbing the level playing field vis-À-vis the political functionaries of other parties and candidates.”
“In this regard,” it added, “the Commission would like to state that the above-mentioned underlying purpose of the instruction needs to be fully appreciated while being acted upon.” Code of conduct
The petitioners alleged that the continued presence of the permanent election symbol and statues during elections would provide a much higher playing ground to the BSP vis-À-vis to other political parties, and seriously hamper the Model Code of Conduct.
The Hindu 6th AUG 09

Mayawati gets EC jolt

Mayawati gets EC jolt
PNS New Delhi
‘Violated orders by installing elephant statues’On a statue-building spree, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, who recently got Supreme Court nod for carrying out personal glorification campaign, received a jolt from the Election Commission on Tuesday.Finding the statues of Mayawati, other Dalit leaders and that of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) symbol, the elephant, to be prima facie violative of the model code of conduct, the Commission issued show-cause notice to the BSP chief and the party asking them to respond by August 12.Although the Supreme Court on July 10 had refused to stay the installation of statues citing that decisions approved by State Cabinet cannot be interfered with by the courts, the EC notice could be a cause of worry for the Chief Minister.The notice came on a complaint by Ravi Kant and Sukumar, two practicing advocates of the Supreme Court, who cited an April 1, 2009 notification issued by the Commission which expressly prohibited display of image or photograph of political functionaries in any form in Government offices or public places. With the elephant being the BSP symbol and the statue of Mayawati who herself would contest the election in the coming State Assembly poll, the petition said, “The Bahujan Samaj Party and the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh have violated the orders of the Election Commission by installing permanent structures of the election symbol replica of BSP and constructing several statues of the Chief Minister in public places in Lucknow and Noida. These structures will severely violate the Model Code of Conduct during elections.”According to the information collected by the complainants, a total of 60 elephant statues would be installed in the State at a total cost of Rs 52.2 crore. Besides a sum of Rs 1940 crore was spent by Mayawati for constructing her statues in several parts of the State. Citing grounds for EC to interfere, the petition stated, “The statues have been put up in vantage points to ensure that the supremacy and fear of the power of the BSP is conveyed to the voter” in a manner to influence them and destroy fair play.
Even the April notification of the Commission stated, “This would have the effect of disturbing the level playing field vis-à-vis the political functionaries of other parties and candidates.” Taking this into account, the petitioners asked the Commission to consider stalling the construction of statues.According to EC sources, the Commission had received the complaint and a copy of it had been sent to the BSP seeking its comments. The matter relating to the validity of statues is already pending in the Supreme Court, which is expected to take up the case for hearing later this month.

SC panel inspects Noida park, meeting on Aug 12

SC panel inspects Noida park, meeting on Aug 12
Smriti Singh , TNN 7 August 2009, 01:09am IST

NOIDA: Mayawati's ambitious Noida memorial was under scrutiny yet again when members of the Supreme Court's centrally-empowered committee (CEC)

visited it on Thursday. The high-level committee including P V Jaikishan, chairman, Sanjeev Chaddha, member-secretary and Mahinder Vyas, member inspected the park along with the petitioners and residents of Noida who had approached the CEC. The inspection took place at 11am amid tight security. Noida police officers were deployed at each entrance, and other than the petitioners, no residents were allowed to go inside. The visit lasted for about an hour. A team of enviromental experts, along with the Uttar Pradesh chief secretary, was also present. The panel has now fixed a meeting with all the parties on August 12. The CEC has asked the ministries of forest for Delhi and Lucknow to be present. After the inspection, petitioner Kanan Vihari Jaiswal said that questions were raised by the panel about the number of trees felled during construction of the park. "The Noida authority confirmed that the project was worth over Rs 600 crores,'' Jaiswal said. The main concern expressed by both committee members and residents was that the memorial park is being constructed next to the Okhla bird sanctuary, in violation of several environmental laws. Commodore Lokesh Batra, an intervener in the PIL and also a resident of Noida, said the panel sought original records which were prepared before execution of the construction plan. Several residents had approached the apex court a few months earlier, accusing the state government of cutting down more than 6000 trees to make way for statues of Mayawati, Kanshi Ram and Dr BR Ambedkar. They had faulted the memorial on three counts it was too close to a protected sanctuary, was located on the riverbed and was almost next to a state boundary. Five parks in Noida had been cleared to make way for this memorial, and until recently, no official from the Noida authority was willing to speak about the project. Recently, Supreme Court advocate Ravi Kant filed a petition in court after which a two-judge bench sent a notice to the UP government. While the bench refused to stay installation of the statues, the government had been given four weeks to reply to the notice, only after which the case could be listed for hearing. However, it has been over five weeks now with no reply from UP. Barely a month ago, a team of the central environment ministry had also inspected the site and found several violations. Soon after its inspection, the area, that had been a virtual sea of concrete till then, was greened with several thousand saplings and grass being planted almost overnight. Workers at the park had reportedly been instructed to finish the work on priority. Last week, 11 statues, wrapped in blue and black, arrived at the park and were installed without much ado.