Delhi Governor V.K. Saxena has directed the chief secretary to recover Rs 97 crore from AAP for political advertisements published in 2016 in the name of government advertisements, official sources said on Tuesday.
The development comes days after AAP wrested power from BJP in MCD polls. The AAP claimed that the LG had issued the order on the instructions of the saffron party, saying Saxena had no authority to issue such directions.
The opposition BJP in Delhi welcomed the LG’s directive and said the recovery from the ruling party would go up to Rs 400 crore.
Addressing a press conference here, Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Ramveer Singh Bidhuri alleged “advertisement fraud” and demanded a CBI probe.
In an order to the general secretary of the UTZZ, it has been directed to transfer all advertisements after September 2016 to the State Committee on Content Regulation of Advertisements (CCRGA), established by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, to check whether they are compatible with each other. As per Supreme Court guidelines.
The Delhi government’s Department of Information and Publicity (DIP) said it had spent or booked Rs 97.14 crore (Rs 97,14,69,137) due to “inappropriate advertisements”, acting on the 2016 guidelines of the CCRGA. “said the sources.
”Out of this, more than Rs 42.26 crore has already been released by DIP, while Rs 54.87 crore of the published advertisement remains unpaid,” the source said.
Seeking to recover the amount, the DIP directed AAP to pay Rs 42.26 crore to the exchequer immediately in 2017 and pay the pending Rs 54.87 crore directly to advertising agencies or publications within 30 days, sources said.
“However, even after the lapse of five years and eight months, the AAP has not complied with the DIP order. Such violation of the legal order by a registered political party is not only an affront to the judiciary but also does not bode well for the health of good governance,” the source added.
The Department of Vigilance (DoV) also investigated the complaint and found that the DIP not only failed to recover Rs 42.26 crore, but also actively paid the expected Rs 54.87 crore instead of getting it paid by AAP. said. “In eight cases, payments of Rs 20.53 crore have been attributed to court/arbitration awards.” Sources said there was “a settlement agreement or settlement” even though there was no litigation or any direction from the Supreme Court or the Delhi High Court.
Also, according to the instructions of the Ministers, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications is continuously issuing such advertisements that “clearly violate the Supreme Court’s decision,” according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.
For example, the total cost of a biodegradation project is Rs 41.62 crore, but the expenditure on advertising is Rs 16.94 crore, 40 times the project cost.
The DoV has set up its own committee to probe whether the Supreme Court directives were violated, calling it a “grossly illegal move” by the ruling AAP body.
Former LG member Anil Baijal also revoked the committee’s constitution.
LG Saxena has even asked to reimburse the money spent on the activities of the committee.
He wanted Shabdart, a public agency set up by the Kejriwal government that currently employs 35 people on contract or outsourced basis, to be staffed by civil servants instead. Shabdart’s finances since its inception should also be probed,” the source added.
In 2015, the Supreme Court issued guidelines to regulate government advertising and eliminate inefficient spending. After that, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting established the State Advertising Content Regulatory Committee (SRCRC) in 2016 with a three-person composition.
The CAA had investigated the advertisements published and issued an order in September 2016, identifying the advertisements as “serious violations of the guidelines” set by the apex court.
Speaking at a press conference here, AAP chief spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj termed the LG guidelines as the “new love letter” and said the frequency of such love letters will increase as Valentine’s Day approaches.
”BJP is upset that we have become a national party and gained power in MCD. LG Sahab is doing everything according to BJP’s instructions which is disturbing the people of Delhi. The more worried the people of Delhi are, the happier the BJP is,” Bhardwaj claimed.
He further said that the LG’s directive will not stand in the eyes of law.
“Delhi LG doesn’t have that power. He can’t give that direction… Various BJP state governments have issued advertisements published here. I want to ask them when they will recover the Rs 22,000 crore spent on advertisements. The day the money will be restored we 97 crore will be given,” the AAP leader said.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called the LG’s order “wrong” and said he would approach the court.
Even in 2017, the then Delhi LG Anil Baijal directed the then Chief Secretary MM Kutty to recover Rs 97 crore from the AAP, allegedly “milked” by the Delhi government for advertisements that violated Supreme Court guidelines.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is automatically generated from syndicated feeds.)