The CBI has also dismissed SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and the Congress’ claims that its probe and raids were ‘politically motivated’.
New Delhi: Under the Samajwadi Party, the Uttar Pradesh government had granted 22 mining leases without following the e-tender process in Hamirpur district between 2013 and 2016, in violation of two Allahabad High Court orders, CBI sources have told ThePrint.
Then Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav approved 13 of these 22 leases on 17 February 2013 and one in June 2013, when he was also serving as the minister for mines. After Gayatri Prasad Prajapati took over the portfolio later that year, and he signed off on eight more leases.
The CBI also rebutted allegations made by Yadav and the Congress party that its probe and recent raids in the illegal mining case were “politically motivated”, saying it had proof and record of the leases that were given due approval by the CM’s office.
“All the leases above Rs 5 lakh were to be given approval by the CM Office and were cleared by his office against rules,” an officer said.
What the court had said
According to the CBI, the government approved these leases on 17 February 2013, just 19 days after the high court, on 29 January 2013, ordered that fresh leases and renewals would be done only through an e-tender process, and that pending applications be refused or quashed. The court had said even those applicants meeting the criteria needed to apply afresh through e-tenders.
“The prayers made by the petitioner or applicants for considering their applications for renewal of their mining leases which were pending on 31/5/2012 and the applications for grant of fresh leases which were pending on 31/5/2012 are refused,” the court said.
Questions over timing
Samajwadi Party spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary rejected the CBI’s claims.
“If they had this information, how come they remembered it only at the time of elections, especially at a time when news about a possible BSP-SP alliance comes out? The timing of the investigation and its raid is not just unfortunate but also spiteful,” Chaudhary said.
However, CBI officials defended the agency, saying it had only taken on the case at the behest of the high court, which led to a ‘preliminary enquiry’, and was followed by an investigation and then an FIR.
“The main focus in the case is to look into illegality of the leases that were granted,” an officer said.
“It was a UP government order issued on 31 May 2012 which stated that leases be issued via e-tender. The Allahabad High Court order of 29 January 2013 too is very specific and states that the licences or leases be issued through e-tenders only. Then how were leases and licenses given out on 17 February 2013, issued without e-tender?”