The Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government has initiated a "secret" vigilance probe against a senior IAS officer accused of amassing huge wealth disproportionate to his income, apart from having benami properties in Noida, Greater Noida and Lucknow, among other places. According to a highly-placed source, the probe has been launched against S.K. Singh, who's posted as Secretary in the state Animal Husbandry Department. Special Secretary R.P. Singh issued order for the probe on October 1.
As per the source, the probe was ordered following two complaints received against S.K Singh from an advocate of the Lucknow-bench of the Allahabad High Court on August 6 and August 19.
The complaints, which were received by the Chief Minister's Office, were forwarded to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) of the state Vigilance Department for probe.
The order issued by R.P. Singh has asked for time-bound completion of the probe. The source said that the investigation into the case is being handled by an official of the Vigilance Department having the rank of Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP).
The lawyer in his complaints has alleged that S.K. Singh, during his tenure as the General Manager of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), had amassed "huge benami wealth" on the names of his family members and others.
S.K. Singh has earlier worked as the District Magistrate of Banda, Chandauli and Farrukhabad. He has also served as the Vice-Chairman of Meerut Development Authority and Muradabad Development Authority.
"S.K. Singh allegedly owns properties worth crores of rupees in Lucknow's upscale Gomti Nagar area, apart from having houses and shops in Noida, industrial plots in Greater Noida, land in Sonebhadra, and benami properties in Lucknow, Kanpur, Noida, Fatehpur, Sonebhadra and Mirzapur districts," the source told IANS, quoting the complaint.
The lawyer has also alleged that S.K. Singh appointed a journalist as the caretaker of his properties in Kanpur, while a woman named Shalini Gupta was the caretaker of his properties in Lucknow. S.K. Singh, who reportedly turned into a witness in the NRHM scam case, escaped punitive action against him by the court.
As per the complaint, Income Tax authorities had also searched S.K. Singh's multiple properties in a raid carried out on May 24, 2017. The source also said that the complainant has shared the property documents belonging to S.K. Singh as well as the details of his bank statements with the state government.
When contacted by IANS, S.K. Singh, however, said that he has no knowledge of any pending probe against him.
"I am hearing about this from you only. I am an informant in over 400 cases pertaining to illicit and illegal arms. In some of these cases, sanctions for prosecution had also been issued by the Governor of Uttar Pradesh on charges of sedition.
"So, many criminals are naturally involved in these cases. Perhaps someone has complained against me after being aggrieved by my actions in these cases," Singh said.
Acting strictly on the policy of "zero tolerance", the Yogi Adityanath government on July 3 this year warned over 400 corrupt officials of severe punishment and decided to give early retirement to around 200 employees.
According to UP government officials, the state government has asked 200 officials to take voluntary retirement as they were found guilty in corruption cases. At the same time, more than 400 corrupt officers and employees were warned of severe punishment.
On June 20, Chief Minister Adityanath issued a stern warning to corrupt officials, saying they would be forced to take voluntary retirement.
"There is no place for corrupt officials and staff in the government... Action must be taken against such officials by forcing them to take voluntary retirement," an official release quoted the Chief Minister as saying during a meeting in Lucknow to review the work of the Secretariat Administration Department.