ITEM NO.38            COURT NO.7            SECTION PIL

SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS

WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO(s). 266 OF 2009

RAVI KANT & ANR.                         Petitioner(s)

VERSUS

STATE OF U.P. & ORS.                       Respondent(s)
(With appln(s) for exemption from filing O.T.)
Date: 29/06/2009 This Petition was called on for hearing today.
CORAM:
HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE DALVEER BHANDARI

HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE ASOK KUMAR GANGULY

[VACATION BENCH]

For Petitioner(s) Mr. Ravi Kant, Adv.
Mr. Sukumar, Adv.

Mr. Raj Kumar Tanwar, Adv. For

Mr. Prakash Kumar Singh,Adv.

For Respondent(s)           Mr. U.U. Lalit, Sr. Adv.
Mr. Satish Chandra Mishra, Sr. Adv.

Mr. Jyotinder Mishra, Sr.Adv.

Mr. Pramod Swarup, Sr. Adv.

Mr. S.K. Dwivedi, Adv. For

Mr. G.V. Rao, Adv.

UPON hearing counsel the Court made the following
ORDER

Two public spirited persons who are practicing advocates have filed this writ petition in which the grievance has been made that hundreds of crores of public money is being spent by the Government of Uttar Pradesh for personal glorification by erecting statues particularly of leaders who are presently in power. It is also incorporated in the petition that the installation of sixty elephants’ statue at the cost of RS. 52.20 crores is not only wastage of public
money but also contrary to the circulars issued by the Election
Commission.

It is alleged that the Uttar Pradesh Department of Culture has almost spent 90% of its budget for erecting these statues.
In the petition, a reference has been made to the communication sent by the Election Commission of India on 1.4.2009.  The relevant portion of the communication reads as under:

“The     underlying   intention      of   the    Commission’s instruction was that the photographs and images of the political functionaries, who have deep influence on the 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 the government buildings and premises as that would have the effect of disturbing the level playing field vis-a-vis the political functionaries of other parties and candidates.

In view of the inputs received, the Commission had issued the above instructions. In the meanwhile, certain doubts have been raised          and clarification has been sought about the removal of the images of some national leaders, poets and prominent historical personalities of the past. In this regard, the Commission would like to state that the above mentioned underlying purpose of the instruction needs to be fully appreciated while being acted upon. It is clarified that while the photographs of Prime Minister, Chief Ministers, Ministers and other political functionaries should not be displayed, this instruction, however, is not applicable with regard to the images    of   national   leaders,    poets     and   prominent historical personalities of the past, and the President of India and the Governors. It is further clarified that in case of any doubt in this regard regarding removal of any photograph or images, the issue may be referred to the
Chief Electoral Officer of the State/Union          Territory concerned before taking action in the matter.”

In the petition, it is also mentioned that in the State of U.P., human development index is among the lowest in the country. It is further stated that:

1)    U.P. has the lowest literacy rate in the country  56.27% (68.82 male and 42.22 females -2001 census)

2) U.P. tops in India on maternal mortality.

3) In neo natal mortality U.P. is among the top five states.

4)    U.P. has the highest number of child labour as per 2001 census.

5) U.P. had the largest number of poor with 59 million living below the poverty line.

6) Out of 97122 villages, 56977 villages are electrified (59%)as per CEA data of 2005.

In the petition, it is stated that the State of U.P. needs more funds for the emancipation of socio economic problems. It is also stated that it is the duty and obligation of the State to make policy and programmes for the welfare of the public at large and especially for the weaker sections of the society.         The petitioners would perhaps have no objection if there would have been one or two symbolic statues for drawing inspiration in the State.        The huge public funds which are otherwise meant for improving the conditions of millions of people living below the poverty line cannot be
legitimately diverted for erecting statues and parks. The State must properly set its priorities. The concerned authorities in power must realize that they are holding public money in trust and it must be judiciously spent.

In the petition,   it is alleged that the respondents have shown utter disregard to the constitutional mandate while deciding to spent huge money on installing a very large number of statues. According to the petitioners, the funds need to be used for the welfare and development of people and particularly of the weaker sections of the society.

Notice to show cause as to why this petition be not admitted.

(Pardeep Kumar)                    (Neeru Bala Vij)

Court Master                          Court Master

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