This technocrat is UP’s ‘face of corruption’

Arun Mishra. (File Photo: IANS)

Lucknow:  He has been the face of corruption in Uttar Pradesh for almost three decades but his proximity to politicians across the political spectrum has insulated him against any kind of drastic action.

Arun Kumar Misra, the chief engineer of Uttar Pradesh State Industrial Corporation, can easily be termed “the man with the golden touch” –anything he touched turned into gold for him.

Accused in multi crore scams, Misra has faced suspension and a brief stint in jail. His political godmothers and godfathers have ensured that even though he is under IT and ED scanner, he remains “protected”.

His properties, far in excess of his declared sources of income, are spread across country. His posh bungalow at Prithviraj Road in Delhi and the Asia School of Engineering and Management in Barabanki has been attached by IT.

Several companies, including Ajanta Merchants Pvt Ltd, have been unearthed through which properties in Dehradun and Prithviraj Road were purchased.

Arun Kumar Misra was first appointed as an assistant engineer in the UPSIDC in 1986. Within a few years, his name started becoming synonymous with all matters related to corruption.

Four years ago, the Allahabad High Court had sought an explanation from the Akhilesh government when Misra was reinstated as chief engineer of UPSIDC, even when he was named in corruption cases and had been suspended.

The Allahabad High Court had also ordered the Akhilesh Yadav government to remove Arun Kumar Mishra from the post of chief engineer (Project) of UP State Industrial Development Corporation (UPSIDC) on the grounds that he possessed forged certificates of class 10 and B.Tech degree.

While hearing a petition filed by Anil Verma, senior manager (finance) of UPSIDC, a Division Bench of Justice Arun Tandon and Justice A.K. Misra had asked the state government to recover the salaries, which were paid to him in 30 years of his career as engineer.

Earlier, the CBI had probed his role in Rs 400 crore Tronica City scam of Ghaziabad and revealed that he was also involvement in money laundering cases.

Soon after taking over as chief minister in May 2007, Mayawati had suspended him for his alleged role in the scam between 2005 and 2007. But she had reinstated him silently after a few months and the reason does not need much explanation.

In 2013, the High Court directed the CBI to probe allegations against Misra and two other officials.

The CBI, in its report, had said that Misra transferred crores of illegally-earned money to his bank accounts with fake names and addresses. Maximum money was deposited in the Punjab National Bank, Vidhan Sabha road branch of Dehradun and Arya Vanprasth Ashram Road branch of Haridwar.

The CBI had earlier blocked his accounts and registered FIR.

There was a time when the CBI had decided to declare him an absconder because he was evading any interrogation.

However, he had appeared before the agency allegedly after fortifying himself with the help of his political masters. Misra was also sent to jail in 2010 after an SIT probe against him.

He was again posted back in the UPSIDC. The court, in 2018, stayed his suspension.

Interestingly, the central government, in 2015, also refused permission to the Central Bureau of Investigation to file an appeal against Misra even though he had also been named by the Enforcement Directorate in a separate case of money laundering.

The case also finds important mention by the SIT on black money set up last year by the Narendra Modi government.

Officials said that CBI was to file an appeal against the orders of Uttarakhand high court, which quashed proceedings against Misra.

The agency had to challenge the order before the Supreme Court within three months of the verdict but the then CBI Director Ranjit Sinha ruled against filing an appeal even though the director of prosecution was in favour of appealing.

The CBI sources said that by the time the agency decided to seek nod from the Law Ministry and DoPT to file an appeal against Misra in late 2014, three months had elapsed and the government turned down the agency’s request citing ‘delay’.