AAP has been issued a refund notice of Rs 163.62 crore for its political advertisements allegedly published in the guise of government advertisements, sources said on Wednesday. The development comes nearly a month after Delhi Governor VK Saxena ordered the chief secretary to recover Rs 97 crore from the AAP for political advertisements it published under the guise of government advertisements.
The recovery notice issued by the Directorate of Information and Publicity (DIP) also includes interest on the amount and directs the ruling party in Delhi to pay the entire amount within 10 days, sources said. “If the AAP convener fails to do so, all subsequent legal action including seizure of party property will be taken in a time-bound manner, as per the earlier order of the Delhi LG,” the source said.
There was no immediate response from the Delhi government or the AAP. Following the LG’s order issued last month, the DIP sent Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convener Arvind Kejriwal to collect Rs 163.62 crore for AAP’s political advertisements, published in the guise of government advertisements at public expense. treasury, the sources added.
While Rs 99,31,10,053 (Rs 99.31 crore) is on account of the principal amount spent on political advertisements till March 31, 2017, the remaining Rs. 64,30,78,212 (Rs 64.31 crore) is on account of penalty interest on this amount. The Delhi government’s directorate of audit has also appointed a special audit team to conduct an audit of all such political advertisements after March 31, 2017, sources said.
In 2016, the Delhi High Court ordered the Committee for Regulation of Content in Government Advertising (CCRGA) to rule on complaints regarding political advertisements by the AAP government. The three-judge CCRGA had ordered in September 2016 that “the main purpose and objective of the guidelines framed by the Supreme Court was to prevent misuse of government fund to project the image of a politician or political party in power”.
“Since the same has happened even after the judgment of the Supreme Court, the only way it can be rectified is to make the political party, the main beneficiary in the infringement process, pay the expenses incurred by the government,” it said.
The committee directed the Delhi government to reimburse all expenses incurred to the exchequer from AAP. Review petition filed by AAP government on 22 September 2016 before rejection by CCRGA. Scrutiny of records revealed that tentatively an amount of about Rs.97.15 crores, estimated till 31.03.2017, was spent on advertisements which can be categorized as violation of Supreme Court guidelines in this matter. The amount was updated to Rs 106.42 crore after further assessments, the sources added.
As per records out of Rs 106.42 crore, DIP has already paid Rs 99.31 crore to concerned agencies and Rs 7.11 crore (approx) remains outstanding.
A notice from the DIP read: “In view of the above, you are requested to immediately return Rs 99,31,10,053 to the exchequer and Rs 7.11 trillion (approx) for the remaining advertisements, the payment of which has not yet been released by the authority. government, should be paid directly to the agencies concerned within 10 days from the date of issue of this notice.”
On December 20, when LG Saxena directed the general secretary to recover Rs 97 crore from the party for “political advertisements”, the party said it had no authority issue such orders.
AAP chief spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj called LG’s direction a “new love letter”. “BJP is worried that we have become a national party and wrested power from it in MCD. LG sahab is doing everything according to the instructions of BJP and this is worrying the people of Delhi. The more scared the people of Delhi are, the happier the BJP is,” Bhardwaj claimed. He further said that the LG guidelines do not stand up in the eyes of the law.
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