Former UP chief secretary Neera Yadav was arrested and sent to jail on Tuesday along with a prominent businessman after a special CBI court in Ghaziabad pronounced her guilty in the Noida plot scam of the mid-90s.
The CBI court also indicted Flex Industries chairman Ashok Chaturvedi in the multi-crore land scam. Both have been sentenced to four years’ imprisonment.
Neera Yadav, a 1971-batch IAS officer, has been charged with allotting prime properties in Noida to benefit VIPs close to her. The beneficiaries include politicians from different parties, IAS and IPS officers, businessmen and others who enjoyed proximity with Neera.
CBI special court judge AK Singh sent Neera Yadav and Ashok Chaturvedi to Dasna district jail immediately after pronouncement of the judgment.
As chairman and CEO of Noida between 1994 and 1996, the IAS officer even cornered prime plots in her name, for her husband and in the name of her two daughters.
Interestingly, Neera Yadav was given charge of Noida during Mulayam’s chief ministership but she managed to remain in the saddle even after Mulayam’s arch rival Mayawati became CM in 1995.
Yadav’s arrest has sent alarm bells ringing through UP’s bureaucracy as, CBI sources say, several other officers involved in the impugned Noida allotments could also face severe action in the case. Besides, the CBI is also investigating several other scams related to UP, including the Rs35,000-crore foodgrains scam.
Yadav, who was named the second-most corrupt IAS officer in a secret ballot by the UP IAS association in 1995, went on to become chief secretary in the Mulayam Singh regime in 2005. She was removed on the Supreme Court’s directions after a PIL was filed by a journalist challenging her posting.
It was on the directions of the apex court that the CBI started an inquiry into the Noida plot scam. The CBI registered an FIR on February 26, 1998, and started investigations that stretched over four years. Finally, the CBI filed seven chargesheets on March 10, 2003, before two Ghaziabad courts.
The CBI unearthed evidence that Yadav had amassed huge wealth and property entirely disproportionate to her known sources of income.
Sources said she owned bungalows in Noida, Delhi, Ghaziabad, Mumbai and Bangalore. She was even known to have a bungalow in Glasgow (Scotland), and her net worth would be no less than Rs500 crore.
In a note dated December 16, 1996, then CBI director Joginder Singh wrote to then UP governor Romesh Bhandari Singh about immovable properties worth over Rs10 crore that she had accumulated between January 10, 1994, and December 8, 1995, as chairman and CEO of Noida.
Singh’s predecessor Vijaya Rama Rao, too, wrote a note to then cabinet secretary Surender Singh on December 6, 1995, seeking the state government’s sanction for a preliminary inquiry.
Rao wrote: “Smt Yadav, former chairperson, Noida, since posted as additional resident commissioner, UP government in Delhi, has been committing serious violations with regard to allotment, conversion and regularisation of commercial/residential plots against consideration of huge bribe money… information is also available that Smt Yadav has created substantial assets, both in India and abroad.” But the sanction never came.
The UP government later communicated to the Centre that “there was no need for any action”.