Lucknow: The Akhilesh Yadav government had paid Rs 21.15 lakh as a fee to senior lawyers of the Supreme Court engaged to save suspended Noida Chief Engineer Yadav Singh from facing CBI probe in graft and money laundering cases, according to an RTI response.
As per the RTI information provided by Surendra Pal Singh, Special Secretary (Law), four senior lawyers were engaged by the previous Akhilesh Yadav government.
Kapil Sibal was given a fee of Rs 8.80 lakh, Harish Salve Rs 5.00 lakh, Rakesh Dwivedi Rs 4.05 lakh and Dinesh Dwivedi Rs 3.30 lakh, taking the total to Rs 21.25 lakh, claimed activist Nutan Thakur citing the response to her RTI plea.
Yadav Singh was arrested by the CBI in February last year for allegedly abusing his official position in awarding contracts and causing wrongful loss to the government exchequer.
The Enforcement Directorate has attached assets worth Rs 19.92 crore in a money laundering case that involves the former Noida chief engineer.
Nutan had filed a PIL in Allahabad High Court in the matter. Its Lucknow bench had directed that the Yadav Singh case be transferred to CBI.
The UP government had appealed against this order before the Supreme Court but it was dismissed at the first hearing itself on July 16, 2015.
Nutan said it was "alarming" to note that the state government had "wasted" such a huge amount to save a "tainted person" like Yadav Singh and sought recovery of the public money from the pocket of the concerned public authorities.
The ED had earlier registered two ECIRs (equivalent to a FIR) under sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The ED cases have been registered on the basis of the FIR filed by the CBI.
The CBI last year conducted searches at 12 locations in Delhi, Noida, and Ghaziabad in connection with its probe against Singh over award of contracts related to Noida, Greater Noida, and the Yamuna Expressway authorities. It had also seized files, documents, laptops, iPads and computers.
After an Allahabad High Court order, the CBI had registered two cases against Singh and his family members for alleged corruption and amassing assets disproportionate to known sources of income.
Singh's case came to the fore after the Income Tax department first carried out searches against him and others on tax evasion charges.
A scrutiny of ITRs and other connecting records reportedly revealed that during the period 2009-14, the total likely savings of the family of the then chief engineer was approximately Rs 1.70 crore, whereas they were in possession of immovable property worth around Rs 3.60 crore, CBI had said.
"Besides, approximately Rs 10 crore was allegedly recovered from one of his associates which reportedly belonged to the then chief engineer," the CBI had said.
An attachment of assets order under PMLA is aimed to deprive the accused from taking benefits from their ill-gotten wealth.