The Allahabad High Court has recently issued a directive to the Congress Party, instructing them to make a payment of over ₹2.66 crore to the Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) within a three-month period. This payment pertains to the use of UPSRTC’s buses and taxis by the Congress Party between the years 1981 and 1989.
A division bench consisting of Justice VivekChaudhary and Justice Manish Kumar has dismissed Congress’s claims of political vendetta and has mandated that the amount be settled along with a 5 percent interest accrued from the due date.
The Court acknowledged that the vehicles in question were provided by UPSRTC to facilitate political rallies and other activities organized by the Congress Party. Despite the initial willingness of Congress to resolve the matter amicably, their stance changed over time, and they began raising objections primarily on technical grounds.
One of the unpaid bills related to the use of vehicles for transporting individuals to pay their respects to the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984.
The Court further noted that while the Congress Party was in power in Uttar Pradesh, they availed themselves of these facilities for their political purposes, sometimes upon the direction of the Chief Minister or relevant Ministers. Although some advance payments were made on two occasions, several bills remained unpaid despite repeated reminders from UPSRTC.
The Congress Party argued that the bills were fabricated and false. However, the Court deemed this argument as “vague” and emphasized that there was no denial of the transaction receipts. Additionally, there was no evidence on record indicating that the State government had made any decisions to clear the dues.
In this case, the Court pointed out that the political party in power had utilized public property for its political activities, exercising its dominant position. Bills were presented to the Congress Party, which they chose to ignore.
The State had initiated recovery proceedings against Congress in 1998 under the UP Public Moneys (Recovery of Dues) Act, 1972. The Court had previously halted the recovery proceedings in November 1998, and this case has remained pending for the past 25 years.
Given that the case involves the recovery of public funds, the Court ruled that the Congress Party is obligated to settle the outstanding amount. Consequently, the Court has directed the UP Congress to make the payment, along with interest, within a timeframe of three months.