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Last Updated: Monday, 22 August 2005, 15:26 GMT 16:26 UK
Trial call in Taj Mahal dispute
Former Chief Minister Mayawati
Ms Mayawati is a high-profile low caste politician
An Indian anti-corruption commission has asked the Supreme Court to prosecute a former official over controversial Taj Mahal building plans.

Mayawati Kumari is accused of giving the go-ahead to the construction of a shopping complex at the monument without proper authority.

The former chief minister of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh denies the allegation.

And she says the commission has no right to intervene in her case.

The BBC's Jyotsna Singh reports that the shopping mall scheme caused a public outcry when it was revealed in July 2003.


The federal investigative agency - the Central Bureau of Investigation - had earlier decided to drop the case against Ms Mayawati.

Taj Mahal
The Taj shopping mall controversy has rumbled on for two years

But a lawyer appointed by the Supreme Court to monitor the investigations accused the CBI of acting under the pressure of the federal government.

The Supreme Court then asked the Central Vigilance Commission to review the evidence collected by the CBI in the case.

The commission has now recommended Ms Mayawati's prosecution and that of a former state environment minister, Naseemuddin Siddiqui, and three other state officials.

Ms Mayawati says the commission has no authority to intervene in the case while it is being heard in various courts.

Ms Mayawati is one of India's best known low-caste, or dalit, politicians.

Shop dispute

Work on the Taj shopping complex began in November 2002.

The Uttar Pradesh government said it needed to relocate shops that had been removed from the Taj Mahal premises under a Supreme Court order.

It also argued that tourists would be able to visit the Taj without travelling through the crowded and polluted streets of Agra city.

Environmentalists said the project violated a Supreme Court ruling banning any construction close to the Taj.

The Taj is a 17th century mausoleum, built by the emperor Shah Jahan for his wife, Mumtaz, who died during childbirth.

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