SC declines maintenance plea at Ambedkar memorial

The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to grant any relief to UP Chief Minister Mayawati for carrying out maintenance and cleaning work at the Rs 2600 crore Ambedkar site in Lucknow.

Justice H S Bedi, who was heading the Bench, also at one stage threatened to recuse from the matter after senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi pleaded that the matter be heard by a three-judge bench that included Justice Aftab Alam.

The Bench also comprising Justice P S Thakur said the UP government's plea for carrying out maintenance and cleaning work at the site to mark Ambedkar's anniversary on December six cannot be entertained as the petitioner Mithilesh Kumar Singh has not filed his response.

The apex court said that since the matter is being posted for hearing to January 20, the UP government's plea cannot be entertained at this stage and hence, has become infructuous.

However, after the matter was adjourned, Singhvi submitted that the hearing should be conducted by a three judge bench including Justice Alam, who was part of the earlier bench which had heard the matter at length. This submission irked Justice Bedi, who offered to recuse if either parties do not have faith in him.

"This is not a matter for you to decide. You are being ungentlemanly and unkind to us. Whether it is a two or three judge bench, it is for the Chief Justice to decide," he said.

"It is very unfortunate Dr Singhvi, you have been long enough here to know the procedure. You have been here for longer than many of us. You are very unkind to us," Justice Bedi said.

Following this, Singhvi tendered an apology to the court and said he would make the appropriate request to the Chief Justice of India as per the procedure. He clarified that the plea for inclusion of Justice Alam was made by him as the judge heard the matter at length for several days with Justice B N Aggarwal, who has since retired.

Justice Alam was one of the judges who pulled up the UP government and expressed total dissatisfaction at the government's affidavit denying construction activities at the site despite the stay put by the apex court.

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