The Allahabad high court on Wednesday ordered Uttar Pradesh's Printing and Publication Minister Amarmani Tripathi and his brother to promptly vacate a huge house built on 20,000 square feet of land in Gorakhpur town in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
A division bench comprising Justice Markanday Katju and Justice R S Tripathi issued the order on a petition moved by the house owner Shivpati Devi.
Known for his stern approach, Justice Tripathi also issued firm directives to the state administration to ensure compliance of the order. "If powerful people were allowed to get away with grabbing of houses, then no one will be safe in the state," he said. "It was highly regrettable that the administration went out of its way to assist a minister in committing the crime against a helpless citizen."
The bench also directed Amarmani Tripathi to pay a compensation of Rs 100,000 to the lady for illegal possession of the house.
The court order comes close on the heels of similar remarks from another judge against the decline of the rule of law in the state.
While staying the arrest of Samajwadi Party leaders Mulayam Singh Yadav, Amar Singh and others, Justice Vishnu Sahai, senior judge of the Lucknow bench remarked in the open court the other day: "Is there any rule of law? Is anybody safe here? It seems the police are ruling the state."
He urged the advocate general and the chief of the bar association to share his 'deep anguish and grave concern' over the prevailing state of affairs. He also added, "The judiciary would see to it that the role of law prevailed in the state."
Interestingly Amarmani Tripathi has managed to keep the administration on his side by frequently switching sides. A protégé of the Congress backed gangster Gorakhpur Hari Shankar Tiwari, he joined the breakaway faction of Loktantrik Congress Party to become a minister under Kalyan Singh.
Later, when Rajnath Singh dropped him from his council following his alleged involvement in a case of kidnapping for ransom, he promptly bagged a Bahujan Samaj Party ticket and on getting elected was made minister, once again ensuring immunity from the law.
More recently, another dreaded gangster Mukhtar Ansari, who was convicted by a Delhi based TADA [Terrorism and Disruptive Act] court with a ten-year sentence, succeeded in winning favours with Mayawati after pledging support to her then shaky government a few months back.
Ansari used Mayawati's influence over Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani to get himself shifted from Delhi's Tihar Jail to Lucknow's district jail.
Now he manages to take a stroll on the streets of Lucknow whenever he feels like it.
He raised many eyebrows with his last week foray into Hazratganj, Lucknow's fashionable shopping center. But what created a commotion was his bold entry into the office of the state police chief and that too for recommending a posting of choice for one of his 'favourite' police sub-inspectors.
The main reason he hit the headlines was his altercation with a photojournalist who dared to click his picture inside the police chief's office.
Yet, all that the administration did was to suspend the ordinary constable for 'dereliction of duty'. The helpless jailor proceeded on leave after it was know that every time the gangster needs to take a stroll downtown, he gets an 'out-pass' in the name of 'back-ache' check, which a senior professor of the Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Medical University [formerly King George Medical College] was only too willing to oblige.