NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today upheld the conviction of former Uttar Pradesh chief secretary Neera Yadav and another IAS officer Rajiv Kumar in cases related to a land allotment scam from 1993-95 in Noida.
However, the top court reduced the three-year jail terms awarded to them in two separate cases to two years.
The court rejected the plea of Yadav to undergo the sentence concurrently and held that she would have to serve the jail term in two separate cases consecutively.
Kumar, a 1983-batch IAS officer and then NOIDA Deputy CEO, was tried only in one case along with Yadav.
While in the first case, the ex-chief secretary was accused of abusing official position to get the plots allotted to herself and her two daughters in 1994, the second one was for conspiring with Rajiv Kumar to get him allotment of a plot.
"The prosecution has successfully proved that the appellant Neera Yadav abused her position as a public servant to benefit herself and her kith and kin. She not only made a mockery of rules and regulations of NOIDA, but also misused her position by completely neglecting her duties," a bench of justices Kurian Joseph and R Banumathi said.
The court agreed with the prosecution's argument that Yadav in conspiracy with other officials abused her position while committing grave irregularities in the matters of allotments and conversions of land in NOIDA.
"Upon consideration of the evidence on record, we are of the view that the concurrent findings recorded by the trial court as well as by the high court are based upon proper appraisal of facts and evidence and the concurrent findings do not suffer from any error warranting interference," the court said.
The bench reduced the jail term after noting that the case was 23-years-old and both the convicts had surrendered the plots to NOIDA and also given up their claim of refund.
"In the facts and circumstances of the present case and considering that the occurrence was of the year 1994 about twenty three years ago and that Rajiv Kumar had offered to surrender the plot and forgo refund and the fact that on account of conviction, his service and retiral benefits are in jeopardy, sentence of imprisonment imposed on the appellant Rajiv Kumar is reduced to two years and necessarily that of Neera Yadav is also to be reduced," the court said.
The bench held that being a chairman-cum-CEO of NOIDA, Yadav was expected to ensure that the allotment of plots was effected in strict compliance with the rules and regulations of NOIDA.
"However, the appellant herself bypassed the rules and regulations of NOIDA by submitting ante dated, half-filled applications for seeking allotment of plots and by not paying the total amount payable in lieu of the allotment," it said.
It also expressed concern over the issue of nepotism and said that granting favours to "near and dear" deprives others of a career opportunity.
"A particular kind of corruption that has become more rampant of late is nepotism to promote the interests of those near and dear to them. Nepotism is in a sense a greater evil since it involves dispersal of favours by patrons amongst their arm coterie, depriving others of a career or office they deserve more.
"The practice of promoting the interest of few individuals to the detriment of many others is wholly reprehensible and deserves to be condemned," the top court said.