The Allahabad High Court on Thursday ordered immediate removal of two senior IAS officers from their posts in the Noida Authority because of corruption charges pending against them.
The court has also ordered a CBI inquiry into the charges of a huge scam in land allotments during the previous tenure of these two officers in Noida. The order comes as a major blow to the Akhilesh Yadav government as both officers are known to enjoy the proximity and patronage of Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.
The bench of justices Amitava Lala and PKS Baghel, hearing the PIL filed by Madhav Samaj Kalyan Samiti, Pratapgarh, ordered the removal of Noida chairman Rakesh Bahadur (IAS, 1979) and CEO Sanjiv Saran (IAS, 1983). The court also directed that the two officers should not be posted anywhere in west UP.
The court expressed surprise over how the two were given the same posts once again even though they were facing serious corruption charges relating to land allotments during their previous tenure on these very posts. The court has directed the CBI to conduct an inquiry into the land allotments between July 2005 and May 2007, and submit a status report within six months.
The allotments pertain to the period when Mulayam was the chief minister. Bahadur and Saran were suspended along with 14 other officers in August 2009 when the Mayawati government was in power. An FIR was lodged against them after an inquiry found them guilty of causing a loss of more than Rs4,700 crore to the state exchequer in a scam in allotment of land in Noida for hotels. However, the suspension of the two officers was revoked and they were reinstated once again as chairman and CEO, Noida, as soon as the SP regime took over in March.
The land was given to hoteliers – without any tender process – after converting its use from commercial to industrial. The industrial rate was Rs7,400 per square metre when the prevailing commercial rate was Rs 1,69,000 per sq metre. The land was allotted for hotels to be built to cater to the influx in Delhi and NCR areas for the Commonwealth Games 2010.
Under the scheme devised by the Mulayam government, plots were identified in sector 96, 97 and 98 of Noida. As many as 31 applications were received, out of which 14 plots were allotted for various categories of hotels in 2007.
After taking over as CM, Mayawati ordered cancellation of the allotments. She had also ordered action against guilty officials. The Noida Authority cancelled the allotments.