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AAP’s Delhi MLAs refuse to declare assets, call Lokayukta’s demand ‘illegal’

The Delhi Lokayukta in a January 11 notice had asked all MLAs to submit documents related their assets and liabilities for the past three years by January 28 .

delhi Updated: Jan 29, 2019 12:50 IST
Sweta Goswami
Sweta Goswami
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
delhi lokayukta,AAP MLAs,vijender gupta
Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta is among the three legislators - two BJP and one rebel AAP MLA - who have furnished details of their assets as demanded by the Delhi Lokayukta. (Sonu Mehta/HT Photo )

The Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) Delhi legislators on Monday collectively refused to declare their assets and liabilities as demanded by the state Lokayukta. They sent counter affidavits instead, calling the anti-corruption ombudsman’s demand “illegal”.

Two Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLAs and one AAP rebel, however, furnished similar details before the Lokayukta on Monday and criticised the AAP for what they called its “hypocrisy on transparency”.

The Delhi Lokayukta in a January 11 notice had asked all MLAs to submit documents related their assets and liabilities for the past three years by January 28 (Monday).

The notice was sent after Vivek Garg, an advocate and RTI activist linked to the BJP, had complained to the ombudsman that AAP MLAs had not furnished such details ever since they took charge. Seeking the details of only AAP legislators, Garg said they ought to do so because they were “public servants”.

But until Monday, only three MLAs – BJP’s Vijender Gupta and Manjinder Singh Sirsa, and AAP rebel Kapil Mishra — submitted their documents at the Lokayukta’s office.

No comment was forthcoming from Delhi Lokayukta Reva Khetrapal on the matter and repeated calls and messages to her went unanswered.

All the AAP MLAs, including the speaker of the Delhi Assembly, Ram Niwas Goel, who was also sent the notice, refrained from complying to the notice “in protest” against the Lokayukta’s “misuse of her office and powers”.

Goel said he was yet to receive a response from Kehtrapal to his January 22 letter in which he had told her that the provision to seek such details technically applies only to MPs and central government employees.

“But, they too are not bound by it because, as per a Government of India memorandum, public servants need not furnish details of assets and liabilities until new rules are framed by the Centre. I haven’t got any reply to my letter. The next hearing in Vivek Garg’s case is February 27, so I will wait,” said Goel.

AAP MLA from Greater Kailash Saurabh Bhardwaj said no MLA from BJP or the Congress had ever filed it in other states. “No MLA has ever filed it before the Lokayukta in Delhi also,” he said.

Bhardwaj, who issued a joint statement on behalf of all AAP MLAs, said the party’s legislators had filed their assets and liabilities before in the Election Commission for the assembly elections of 2013 and 2015. “All of us will again file the affidavits in the 2020 assembly elections, detailing our and our family’s assets and liabilities. It’s all in the public domain,” Bhardwaj said.

Law minister Kailash Gahlot said he had already filed a counter affidavit in the case and other legislators were doing the same. “In my affidavit, I urged that the complaint be dismissed with exemplary cost as it is devoid of any merit. I have given a point by point legal standing on the complaint as well,” he said.

Vijender Gupta, BJP MLA from Rohini and leader of opposition in the Assembly, said the other two legislators of the party – OP Sharma and Jagdish Pradhan — could not do so due to unavoidable personal reasons. They will also submit the documents shortly, he said.

“The AAP’s real face is now exposed. AAP came to power by making Lokpal their poll plank and now they only are shying away from being transparent. Their act is an open defiance of constitutional authority,” he said.

First Published: Jan 29, 2019 12:48 IST