Penalty on AAP: Since its inception, the Aam Aadmi Party has aced the politics of blind and baseless accusations, especially those for which it has been, time and again, found guilty at a later stage. Apart from dereliction of duties, AAP is notorious for doling out hefty advertisements to create a positive image for the party. On multiple occasions it was accused of doing so at the expense of taxpayers’ money. But, the recent stern orders by the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi Vinay Kumar Saxena seems to have validated these charges levelled against the self-touted ‘Kattar Imandar Party’.
AAP penalised for misappropriation of government fund to further its party interests
In 2015, the Supreme Court passed guidelines that barred the ruling parties from using the pictures of their leaders in advertisements that publish welfare schemes. In those guidelines, the apex court stated that such advertisements could only carry photographs of the President, the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India. Later in 2016, the court further allowed the governments to publish photographs of their respective Chief Ministers, Governors, and State Ministers in such advertisements.
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But several political parties including the Aam Aadmi Party were alleged of violating these guidelines and misusing exchequer’s money for furthering the party’s interest.
The Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi is now facing the heat for the same. As per media reports, the AAP was served a Penalty notice for the recovery of Rs 163.62 crore for allegedly publishing its party advertisements in the garb of government advertisements.
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The recovery notice was issued by the Directorate of Information and Publicity (DIP) of the Delhi government. Rs 163 crore fine includes principal amount and the penal interest on this amount. The breakdown of it includes Rs 99,31,10,053 (Rs 99.31 crore) accounted as the principal amount incurred for political advertisements published till 31st of March, 2017. While the remaining Rs. 64,30,78,212 (Rs 64.31 crore) is on account of interest on the principal amount.
This development came in the wake of directions given by Delhi LG VK Saxena to state Chief Secretary. Earlier, the LG Saxena had asked the Chief Secretary to recover Rs 97 crore from the Aam Aadmi Party for political advertisements allegedly published under the guise of government advertisements during 2015–2016.
Media reports claim that in case of non-compliance, consequential legal action including attachment of party property could be taken in a time bound manner based on the earlier order of the Delhi LG. Further, the notice served to AAP National Convenor has made it mandatory for the ruling party in Delhi to pay the entire amount within a stipulated time period of 10 days.
Additionally, the Directorate of Audit in the Delhi government assigned a special audit team. The newly assigned team will conduct an audit of every political advertisement given after 31st of March, 2017.
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Reportedly, the notice relates to expenses incurred on advertisements that were mostly published outside Delhi.
Earlier, in 2016, the Delhi High Court directed the Committee on Content Regulation in Government Advertising (CCRGA) to probe these allegations levelled against the AAP government.
Later, in September 2016, the Union government-appointed three-member panel found the Delhi government guilty of “misusing” taxpayers’ money for party advertisements. The panel added that the ruling AAP should reimburse these funds.
Back then, the AAP government had filed a review petition in September, 2016 before the CCRGA that was dismissed by the panel.
This fine imposed on Aam Aadmi Party is the beginning of a new reformed political culture which will bar these reckless political parties from misappropriating government funds for their personal gains. Moreover, this penalty on AAP again exposes its own claim of being a ‘kattar imandaar’ party that is destined to reform the political process in the country.
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