AAP receives recovery notice of Rs. 164cr over political ads
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has received a notice from the Directorate of Information & Publicity (DIP) of the Delhi government for recovering Rs. 163.62 crore it spent on advertisements, reportedly violating the Supreme Court's 2015 guidelines issued for ruling parties. The DIP also warned the AAP headquarters would be sealed if the Arvind Kejriwal-led party doesn't deposit the money within 10 days.
Funds mostly spent on political adverts outside of Delhi
Hindustan Times reported the DIP's notice is related to funds that the AAP spent on political advertisements, which were primarily published outside Delhi. The notice was issued on Wednesday, just weeks after Delhi Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena, on December 20, directed Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar to recover Rs. 97 crore the party spent on political ads in violation of the SC guidelines.
Legal action could be taken against AAP: Sources
An official told HT that legal action involving the attachment of the AAP's properties could also be taken, per Saxena's order. The total amount of Rs. 163.62cr sought from the AAP includes a Rs. 99.31cr principal amount (spent till March 2017) and a Rs. 64.31cr interest. Notably, Saxena's December 20 order cited a Centre-appointed panel's findings, which accused the Delhi government of misusing funds.
Feud between AAP and Saxena escalates further
Furthermore, Saxena has ordered a review of the AAP's advertisements published after 2019. The Delhi lieutenant governor earlier directed legal action against the AAP, including the attachment of its properties, if it doesn't deposit the said amount. Meanwhile, there has been no immediate response from the party over the DIP notice, which has escalated the feud between the AAP government and Saxena in Delhi.
Contents of the notice sent to AAP
"A final opportunity is hereby given to reimburse the amount of Rs. 163,61,88,265 by depositing the said amount in the account details given below within 10 days of issuing of this notice," read the DIP's notice issued to the AAP. It also mentioned "further necessary action as per law will be taken in this matter" if the party fails to deposit the money.
AAP spokesperson dismissed Saxena's December order as 'illegal'
In December, AAP National Spokesperson and MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj dismissed Saxena's order concerning the party's advertisements as illegal and claimed he didn't have the authority to recover the funds. "The order has no legal value. All states ruled by the BJP ruled states...and Congress governments in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh have also been publishing advertisements of their schemes in newspapers in Delhi," said Bharadwaj.