Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal on Wednesday directed the chief secretary of Delhi government to recover an amount of Rs 97 crore from Aam Admi Party within 30 days. The party had allegedly “splurged” the government money on advertisements and violated Supreme Court guidelines. Not only this, Baijal also ordered an enquiry into the spendings on advertisements to promote AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal and his party and fix responsibility.
The L-G order came a few months after a Centre-appointed three-member committee indicted the AAP government of “misusing” the money belonging to the public exchequer on advertisement and violating the Supreme Court guidelines. The committee was set up following a Supreme Court order that sought to address issues related to content regulation in government advertising (CGRA) in 2015. The committee had forwarded its report to the chief secretary, Delhi in September 2016 for subsequent action.
The three-member committee was headed by former Chief Election Commissioner B B Tandon and constituted by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, Government of India. The panel also had adman Piyush Pandey and journalist Rajat Sharma as members.
PTI reports sources as saying that out of the Rs 97 97 crore spent on advertisement, the Delhi government has paid Rs 42 crore to ad agencies and the LG has asked the Delhi chief secretary MM Kutty to get the amount reimbursed from AAP. The report further says that the rest Rs 55 crore, which Kejriwal government hasn’t paid yet, will now be paid to the agencies by AAP.
In an earlier report, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had found that AAP government spent Rs 29 crore in advertisements outside Delhi. The CAG report, which was tabled in Delhi Assembly on March 10, said the AAP government violated financial propriety and
Supreme Court regulations by releasing Rs 24 crore for advertisements. Kejriwal government, however, rejected the report.
The committee had also asked the Delhi government to assess the expenditure incurred by it on certain categories of advertisements, and get it reimbursed from the party concerned, reports The Indian Express.
L-G asking AAP to pay Rs 97 crore for ads is an example of how the monstrous establishment will do just about anything to crush an outsider.
— Akshay Marathe (@AkshayMarathe) March 29, 2017
“Therefore, as advised by the law department and secretary (DIP), a notice should immediately be issued to political party concerned for recovery of amount already paid. The party concerned may also be advised to pay directly to the agencies concerned in respect of remaining advertisements whose payments have not been released so far by the government. The notice so issued should give full details of all advertisements and fix a timeline of 30 days from date of issue to reimburse the requisite amount to the government exchequer,” a letter by the committee said.
Most of the AAP leaders have stayed away from reacting immediately to the L-G order which came just a few weeks before the MCD elections in the National Capital.
This is not the first time when L-G has issued an order to Delhi government in this regard. According to IE, the committee’s file was first sent from the L-G office to Delhi chief secretary who forwarded it to deputy CM Manish Sisodia’s office and remained for some days before it was returned to the L-G. The L-G has sent the notice again.
AAP spokesperson Dilip Pandey said the Kejriwal’s office or Sisodia’s office has not received any communication from the L-G office. “Unless we receive such a communication, it is hard to comment on the issue,” Pandey told IE.
Akshay Marathe, National Joint Secretary, Organization Building of Aam Aadmi Party, tweeted: “L-G asking AAP to pay Rs 97 crore for ads is an example of how the monstrous establishment will do just about anything to crush an outsider.”