Delhi LG Anil Baijal told Arvind Kejriwal to pay the fine for promoting AAP in Delhi government ads
New Delhi: Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party or AAP must foot the 97-crore bill for a series of ads issued by the Delhi government that promoted either him, the party, or both, said the capital's Lieutenant Governor, Anil Baijal, today. AAP has a month to pay up. Chief Minister Kejriwal's office said that it cannot comment on the order because it has not received a copy.
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The ads violated Supreme Court don'ts, said the Lieutenant Governor, who acts as the representative of the central government in Delhi, which is a union territory and not a state.
His decision comes after a committee appointed by the central government found that public funds had been wrongly spent on ads "glorifying" the Chief Minister and his party.
The committee investigated the ads based on a complaint by Congress leader Ajay Maken. The alleged violations by the Delhi government include out-of-state ads as well as ads "for self-glorification."
The committee, which has three members, was appointed by the Supreme Court to monitor content in ads paid for by the central and state governments.
In 2015, the Supreme Court said that government ads cannot feature Chief Ministers or other political leaders. It exempted photos the Prime Minister, President and Chief Justice of India from its ban.
Last year, the court relaxed its rules to permit photos of union ministers and Chief Ministers, as sought by the centre and state governments like Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.
The rest will have to now be paid directly by AAP to the agencies involved.
In a report earlier this month, the state auditor of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) found that the Delhi government spent Rs 29 crore in releasing advertisements outside Delhi and in violation of the Supreme Court's rules.
The Delhi government rejected the report, with Mr Kejriwal stating that the auditor was "doing this out of compulsion" to oblige the centre, which he accuses of working to undermine his government.