Lucknow: Neera Yadav will in all probability go down in the pages of history of UP bureaucracy as the first Chief Secretary to be convicted of corruption charges.
A 1971batch IAS officer and 39th chief secretary of Uttar Pradesh, she had joined the BJP ahead of the 2009 parliamentary polls in the presence of then BJP national president Rajnath Singh, who is an MP from Ghaziabad.
Yadav has been sentenced to four years in prison after a CBI court found her guilty of corruption in what's referred to as the Noida land scam. She was convicted of violating the rules to help a company named Flex Industries, owned by Ashok Chaturvedi, get an industrial plot in Noida in 1995 when she was the chairman of the New Okhla Industrial Development Authority (Noida). Chaturvedi was also sentenced to four years.
The CBI had said in its chargesheet that Yadav's allotment of two plots to two different companies owned by Chaturvedi cost the government more than a crore in losses. She was accused by the CBI of changing criteria for eligibility for land to benefit Chaturvedi. The CBI registered the case against Yadav in February 1998 on the orders of the Supreme Court.
A writ petition filed by the Noida Entrepreneurs Association in 1997 had alleged large-scale bungling in the allotment of land in different sectors and in commercial Sector 18 during Yadav's tenure as the CEO and chairperson of the authority.
Then chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, in flagrant violation of the service rule governing the civil service and ignoring the chargesheet filed against her by the CBI in Ghaziabad court, hand-picked Yadav for the post of Chief Secretary in 2005. She held the post for less than six months from April 30 to October 6, 2005, and had to face an unceremonious exit on the directions of the Supreme Court. The SC had then directed the UP government to shift her to some other post of the same grade within seven days. The discretion of Mulayam Singh was questioned in the political and bureaucratic circles.
The appointment of Yadav was found to be too glaring in view of the charges of disproportionate assets pending against her, including allegations of owning palatial houses in Noida, Delhi, Ghaziabad.
A conservative estimate pegs her net worth at nearly Rs 300 crore.
Yadav had sought voluntary retirement from the IAS within a year after Mayawati became the CM in 2007. Her resignation was also forced by the circumstances wherein she was removed from the post of chair person of the UP IAS Association. Yadav was chairman of UP Vigilance Commission when she sought to be relinquished of her duties.
Coming after the Allahabad HC directed a CBI probe into a massive food scam that took place during the previous Samajwadi Party regime (2003-07), Yadav's conviction has brought further embarrassment for the party. The party has, however, defended itself. "Our government did nothing wrong in appointing her as the Chief Secretary. She was the senior most officer at that time. Moreover, the UP IAS association would have objected had any person junior to her been appointed," said SP leader Azam Khan.
Yadav shot into fame as district magistrate of Jaunpur district during the crisis caused by floods when she waded through flood waters to rescue people.
Politically well-connected and married to an IPS officer Mahendra Singh Yadav, she had friends in all political parties except the BSP. Her husband joined the BJP after retirement and contested the 2002 Assembly elections from Bulandshahr. When he joined the BJP, the then prime minister A B Vajpayee had said, "Earlier he used to issue orders now he will give sermons." He was made Cabinet Minister for Secondary Education in Mayawati-led BSP-BJP regime (2002-03) and his wife was his principal secretary.
Mahendra defected to the Samajwadi Party ahead of the 2007 Assembly polls.
During the Congress regime of Vir Bahadur Singh (1985-1988), Yadav, Secretary to the CM was among the most power bureaucrats of UP. When Vir Bahadur Singh died, a weeping Yadav was seen sitting in the truck carrying the body of the leader from Amausi airport to his official residence here. During the first regime of Mulayam Singh Yadav (19891991) she was the Secretary of Department of Appointment and Personnel.
Neera Yadav is not the only tainted Chief Secretary of UP.
Ram Bahadur Saxena was the first Chief Secretary of UP to be suspended by then UP CM Vishwanath Pratap Singh in 1980. Saxena was found partying when Moradabad, Rampur, Bareilly and Meerut were under curfew due to communal violence.
Akhand Pratap Singh, Neera's predecessor and Chief Secretary during Mulayam Singh Yadav's regime for three months in 2003, was also removed on the directions of the Supreme Court. He was arrested by the CBI in several cases of corruption, including owning disproportionate assets and sent to jail. The case is still pending.
Akhand Pratap Singh and Neera Yadav figured among the three most corrupt IAS officers chosen by the UP IAS Association in 1996 through a secret ballot.
The third officer among the three most corrupt, Brijendra Yadav, is dead.
The campaign to identify the three most corrupt was spearheaded by Vijay Shankar Pandey, presently Principal Secretary, Information Department.
Source: The Indian Express