L-G asks AAP to pay Rs.97 cr plus interest to state exchequer for political advts that it got published/ telecast in the garb of govt advts
In a major jolt to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Delhi Lt Governor V K Saxena on Tuesday directed the Chief Secretary to recover Rs.97 crore spent by AAP on political advertisements which it published as government advertisements.
The L-G has directed Chief Secretary to implement the September 2016 order of the Supreme Court-appointed Committee on Content Regulation in Government Advertising (CCRGA) and the pursuant order of the Directorate of Information & Publicity (DIP), GNCTD, directing AAP to pay Rs.97,14,69,137 plus interest, to the state exchequer, for political advertisements that it got published/ telecast in the garb of government advertisements.
This, apart from being a gross case of misappropriation of government funds for the benefit of a political party, also amounts to contempt of the Supreme and High Court, said LG Secretariat.
The Supreme Court in its order in 2015, while disposing of a Writ Petition (Civil) of 2003, with regards to “restraining the Union of India and all State governments from using public funds on government advertisements which are primarily intended to project individual functionaries of the government or a political party… and laying down of appropriate guidelines by this Court..”, had postulated guidelines to regulate government advertising and eliminate unproductive expenditure.
Pursuant to this order, a three-Member Committee on CCRGA was constituted by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting to regulate the content of advertising and eliminate unproductive expenditure of government revenue.
The CCRGA, thereafter, in compliance with orders of the Delhi High Court, investigated the advertisements published by DIP and issued orders dated September 2016, identifying specific advertisements published by GNCTD that were in stark violation of the guidelines set by the SC and directed the Directorate of Information & Publicity, GNCTD to quantify the amounts spent by it in such advertisements and recover the same from the Aam Aadmi Party.
In compliance with the said order, the DIP ascertained and quantified that an amount of Rs.97,14,69,137 had been spent or booked because of non-conforming advertisements that violated the Supreme Court order.
Of this, while payments amounting to Rs.42,26,81,265 had already been released by DIP, Rs.54,87,87,872 for advertisements published, were still pending disbursal.
Accordingly, DIP, vide letter dated March 2017, directed the AAP convener to pay Rs.42,26,81,265 to the State Exchequer immediately and directly pay the pending amount of Rs.54,87,87,872 to the concerned advertising agencies/ publication within 30 days.
However, even after a lapse of five years and eight months, the AAP has not complied with this DIP order. This is serious, as public money, despite specific order, has not been deposited by the Party to the State Exchequer. Such defiance of a legitimate order, by a registered political party, is not only contemptuous of the judiciary, but also does not augur well for the health of good governance, said the LG Secretariat.
The LG in his orders to Chief Secretary has also directed that all advertisements since September 2016 also be referred to the CCRGA for vetting and ascertaining if they are in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court.
He has also asked for the money that has been spent in the functioning of the said illegal Committee to be recovered. He has additionally asked for Shabdarth – the public agency formed by the Kejriwal government, currently manned by 35 individuals, out of the total sanctioned strength of 38 officials, to be manned by government servants, instead of private individuals.
The finances of Shabdarth ever since it came into being shall also be audited, he has directed.
[With Inputs from IANS]
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