In a potential setback to Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati, the Supreme Court on Friday, in oral observations, said the former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh should reimburse the public money spent on erecting statues of herself and the party symbol, the elephant, in public places.
“Madam Mayawati, reimburse to the exchequer the public money you have spent on the elephants,” a bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi said.
“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,” the bench observed, according to NDTV. “Pay all the money from your pocket.” The bench, also comprising justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjeev Khanna, will hear the case next on April 2.
Bahujan Samaj Party leader Satish Chandra Misra told ANI that it was only the Supreme Court’s observation and not an order. “The only thing ordered was that the next hearing will be in April,” he said, according to ANI.
The court, however, refused to fix a hearing in either the first or second week of May as had been requested by senior advocate Satish Mishra.
“We cannot have a hearing in May as the court goes on a long vacation. We would hear it in April,” the CJI said. When Mishra insisted, the CJI responded: “Please do not force us to say anything more.”
The observations come at a time when Mayawati is preparing for the general elections in UP, which BSP will fight in an alliance with the Samajwadi Party (SP).
Between 2007 and 2012 when Mayawati was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, the government had built memorials for Dalit leaders, including the founder of Bahuaj Samaj Party Kanshi Ram, and of herself besides the party’s election symbol – elephants. The memorials and statues were built at a cost of over Rs 2,600 crore in Lucknow, Noida, and a few other places in the state.