AAP ordered to pay Rs97 cr allegedly 'splurged' on ads

In a setback to Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal has directed that Rs97 crore be recovered from the Aam Admi Party, an amount allegedly ''splurged'' by the city government on advertisements in violation of the Supreme Court guidelines.

Baijal also ordered an inquiry into the spending on advertisements projecting chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and his party and asked the chief secretary to fix responsibility. The AAP will have to reimburse the money within a month.

The move comes months after a centre-appointed three-member committee indicted the AAP government for ''misusing'' exchequer money on advertisements.

Sources told PTI that out of Rs97 crore spent on advertisements, the government has so far paid Rs42 crore to ad agencies and the LG has directed chief secretary M M Kutty to get the amount reimbursed from the AAP.

The rest Rs55 crore, which is yet to be paid by the Kejriwal government, would be given by Aam Aadmi Party to the ad agencies, according to the the LG's directions.

Last year, the three-member committee, headed by former Chief Election Commissioner B B Tandon, had been constituted by the union information and broadcasting ministry on directions of the Supreme Court to address issues related to content regulation in government advertising.

''The Lt Governor has now directed the chief secretary to get the amount of Rs97 crore from Aam Aadmi Party,'' a source said.

In a report earlier this month, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had also found that the Aam Aadmi Party government spent Rs29 crore in releasing advertisements outside Delhi which was ''beyond'' its responsibility.

Also advertisements worth Rs24 crore released by it were in violation of financial propriety and Supreme Court regulations, stated the CAG report tabled in the Delhi Assembly on 10 March.

The AAP government had rejected the report.