Over 50 ruling Aam Aadmi Party MLAs in Delhi on Monday refused to furnish details of their assets and liabilities to the Lokyukta, stating in their replies to its notice that the ombudsman has no jurisdiction over the matter.
Three MLAs including BJP's Vijender Gupta and Manjinder Singh Sirsa and suspended AAP legislator Kapil Mishra furnished details of assets and liabilities to the Lokayukta.
The remaining MLAs have been given time till February 27 to file their replies. AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj asserted that "there is no law that MLAs need to file details of their assets and liabilities to the Lokayukta". At the same time, he said the central government should enable the provision under Lokpal and Lokayukta Act making it compulsory for all MPs and MLAs to file annual assets report and "we will support it".
Based on a complaint by advocate and RTI activist Vivek Garg, Lokyukta Reva Khetrapal had earlier this month issued notices to Delhi MLAs seeking replies regarding submission of details of their assets and liabilities.
Mr Bhardwaj said over 50 MLAs filed their replies on Monday to the notice.
"The notice by Lokayukta to MLAs is malafide as it is guided by her tiff with Delhi government. The Lokayukta has misused her office and powers and we are protesting that misuse," he alleged and made a veiled reference to Delhi government''s decision not to exempt the Lokyukta office in fitting GPS systems in official vehicles.
"The central government should enable the provision under Lokpal and Lokayukta Act making it compulsory for all MPs and MLAs to file annual asserts report and we will support it. As of now, it's the central government which has kept this provision of Lokpal and Lokayukta Act in abeyance," Mr Bhardwaj said.
Last week, Delhi Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel had written to the Lokaykta asking her to withdraw the notices to the MLAs, claiming that they were not bound to declare their assets and liabilities as per Lokpal and Lokayukta Act 2013.
Mr Goel had also claimed that the complaint was not signed by Mr Garg and it was "politically motivated".
However, the Lokyukta office sources claimed Mr Garg's complaint was not only signed it was also duly supported by a sworn affidavit.
BJP's Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta said he and his colleague Manjinder Singh Sirsa submitted statements of assets and liabilities for three years, beginning 2015-16, before the Lokayukta.
He said that other BJP MLAs, Jagdish Pradhan and OP Sharma, who were unavailable due to personal reasons, will also submit their details of assets and liabilities.
Mr Gupta criticised the AAP MLAs for claiming that Lokayukta had no jurisdiction in the matter, saying it was "open defiance of the Constitutional authority".