Former Uttar Pradesh chief secretary Neera Yadav, who had been arraigned for corruption, has been given a clean chit by the state government.
The decision, to give her a clean chit in a parallel probe ordered by the state government, was taken earlier this week but was kept a closely guarded secret.
Yadav, who till a few days ago was chairperson of the Uttar Pradesh State Road Transportation Corporation, has the dubious distinction of being the country's first Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer to be removed from the chief secretary's post by the Supreme Court on grave charges of corruption.
However, the Uttar Pradesh government has decided to exonerate her from the charges, which were not only been ratified by a one man judicial commission under retired Supreme Court judge Justice KT Thomas but also by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Significantly, the corruption case registered against her still is pending before a special CBI court. The Public Interest Litigation (PIL), which led to her ignominious exit from the office, is also pending before the apex court.
Yadav was charged of committing large scale financial irregularities in the allotment of prime plots in Noida when she was chairperson of the authority in the 1990s.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, who has been projecting herself as a crusader against administrative corruption, lethargy and inefficiency, agreed to put her stamp of approval to the clean-chit despite serious objections raised against it by the present chief secretary.
Why Mayawati chose to ignore Yadav's close proximity to her sworn political foe Mulayam Singh Yadav, who had handpicked Yadav for the chief secretary's job, remains a mystery. While Mayawati is known for targeting everyone connected with Mulayam, she has made a curious exception in this case.
Interestingly, the inquiry officer Aparmita Prasad Singh, who gave Yadav a clean chit, is a former chairman of the state Board of Revenue and former state election commissioner. He had earlier exonerated tainted former chief secretary Akhand Pratap Singh and a senior Provincial Civil Service officer PN Misra.
"The day he was appointed inquiry officer against Neera Yadav, we knew that she is going to eventually get a clean chit," a senior IAS officer, spearheading an anti-corruption campaign in state's bureaucratic echelons, told IANS.
"The whole idea behind the move is to dilute the on-going criminal case against Neera Yadav in the CBI court as well as before the Supreme Court," he added on condition of anonymity.
"Eleven years ago, when the Uttar Pradesh IAS Association decided to undertake a self-cleansing exercise by identifying the 'three most corrupt' through a secret ballot, Akhand Pratap Singh had polled the highest number of votes while Neera Yadav was a close second," retired IAS officer SN Shukla told IANS.
Yadav's case was even worse as she also stood charge-sheeted by the CBI in a land scam in Noida.
Interestingly her husband, Mahendra Singh Yadav, a former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer took a plunge into politics by becoming a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA, but subsequently crossed over to the Samajwadi Party.