LUCKNOW -- The Allahabad High Court on Thursday directed the Uttar Pradesh government not to interfere in the functioning of a vocational training centre run by the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust in Amethi.
This may be seen as a setback to Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani, who had alleged that the land in Jais in Amethi where the centre is being run has been grabbed by the Trust.
The Lucknow bench of the High Court issued the directions on a writ petition of a self-help group -- Vikas Block Mahila Samuh.
The division bench of justices SN Shukla and SK Singh directed the state government to file a response against the petition and fixed the second week of July for the next hearing.
Irani, who had unsuccessfully contested from Amethi Lok Sabha seat against Rahul Gandhi in 2014, had alleged that the land in question was meant for a college and the district Sub- divisional magistrate had issued a notice to the Trust.
Congress spokesman Randeep Surjewala termed it as "a big victory for the women of Amethi" and said the order ensures that vocational training activity at the Jais centre in Amethi will carry on unabated and without interference from the state government.
He said this order has effectively stalled the UP government's efforts to close down the Jais Vocational Training Centre in Amethi at the behest of Smriti Irani and the BJP's political manoeuvres.
The petitioner had objected to a notice issued by Sub Divisional Magistrate, Tiloi, Amethi on April 22 in which he had asked the petitioner to state as to under which authority the centre was being run under the Rajiv Gandhi Women Development Programme at that place, which is a government land as recorded in revenue records.
The petitioner's counsel CB Pandey argued that although the land is recorded as government land, it is specified that the same would be used for vocational training.
He said there was nothing illegal in case the petitioner carried out vocational training there.
Considering that the place in question was earmarked for vocational training, the bench, in an interim direction, restrained the state authorities from disturbing the running of the Centre.
"This is a part of a political witch-hunt initiated and carried out by Smriti Irani who has made many speeches and held several meetings with the district administration regarding this issue directing them to take coercive action.
"Such efforts will only end up destroying the livelihood of lakhs of innocent women of Amethi and Uttar Pradesh who have over the years benefited from the training and expertise provided at the Centre," Surjewala said.
The Congress leader said the land for the centre was allotted by the government over three decades ago to Manuj Kalyan Kendra, a not-for-profit organisation, for vocational training purposes.
The activities carried out at the centre are in fulfilment of the objects for which the land was allotted to Manuj Kalyan Kendra and at their request, he said.
He added that the Rajiv Gandhi Mahila Vikas Pariyojana "RGMVP" was providing the training for and on behalf of Manuj Kalyan Kendra (MKK).
Surjewala said the MKK remains the allottee of the land of the training centre and RGMVP is merely a programme conducting the training.
By repeatedly questioning RGMVP on the land, the UP government was deliberately trying to politicise the issue by sending notices to, manhandling and threatening women and physically visiting the premises asking threatening questions, he said.
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