Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Delhi LG has no power to pass such order: AAP on direction to pay Rs 97 Crore for ‘political ads’

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The Aam Aadmi Party on Tuesday said Delhi Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena has no power to pass orders directing the chief secretary to recover Rs 97 crore from the party for “political advertisements”.

Addressing a press conference here, AAP chief spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj termed the LG’s direction a “new love letter”.

“The BJP is flustered that we have become a national party and wrested power from it in the MCD. LG sahab is doing everything in accordance with the BJP’s directions and that is troubling the people of Delhi. The more worried Delhi’s people are, the happier the BJP gets,” Bhardwaj claimed.

He further said that the LG’s directions would not stand in the eyes of law.

“The Delhi LG has no such power. He cannot issue such directions. These won’t stand in front of the law. Other state governments also issue advertisements. The BJP’s various state governments issued advertisements that have been published here. We want to ask when will the Rs 22,000 crore spent on the advertisements be recovered from them? The day that money is recovered, we will also give Rs 97 crore,” the AAP leader said.

Delhi LG Saxena has directed the chief secretary to recover Rs 97 crore from the Aam Aadmi Party for political advertisements it published in the guise of government advertisements, official sources said on Tuesday.

The Delhi government’s Directorate of Information and Publicity (DIP), acting on a 2016 directive from a Committee on Content Regulation in Government Advertising set up by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, had notified that Rs 97.14 crore (Rs 97,14,69,137) had been spent or booked on account of “non-conforming advertisements”, they said.

“Of this, while payments amounting to over Rs 42.26 crore had already been released by the DIP, Rs 54.87 crore for advertisements published were still pending disbursal,” a source said.

Acting on the directive, the DIP had in 2017 directed the AAP to pay over Rs 42.26 crore to the state exchequer immediately and directly pay the pending amount of Rs 54.87 crore to the advertising agencies or publications concerned within 30 days, they said.

“However, even after the lapse of five years and eight months, the AAP has not complied with the DIP order. This is serious as public money, despite a 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,” the source added.

In 2015, the Supreme Court had postulated guidelines to regulate government advertising and eliminate unproductive expenditure.

Following this, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting formed the three-member Committee on Content Regulation in Government Advertising (CCRGA) in 2016.

The CCRGA investigated advertisements published by the DIP and issued an order in September 2016, identifying those which were in “stark violation of the guidelines” set by the apex court.

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