AAP MLAs refuse to submit financial details even as Delhi Lokayukta modifies notice; BJP says reluctance reeks of corruption
Delhi Assembly speaker Ram Niwas Goel questions plea seeking assets and liabilities of AAP MLAs even as Lokayukta exclude him and his deputy, asks why no one is asking MLAs in BJP-ruled states to submit financial details
Delhi Lokayukta modified the order seeking financial assets of MLAs in Delhi, excluded Legislative Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel and his deputy
While three MLAs (two from BJP and former AAP leader Kapil Mishra) submitted their asset and liabilities statement to the Lokayukta, AAP MLAs have refused
AAP has maintained that there is no law that compels MLAs to submit details of their assets and liabilities to the Lokayukta
Supreme Court had ordered the Centre to frame laws for MLAs to submit a statement of their assets and liabilities but now no such rule has been made yet
Delhi Lokayukta has ordered modification in its notice to Delhi MLAs to submit their assets and liability statement and as per the new order, the Delhi Assembly speaker and deputy speaker would not be required to follow it.
"There was a clerical mistake in the order. When it was pointed out during the hearing held on Monday that the speaker and the deputy speaker do not fall within the jurisdiction of the Lokayukta, we rectified the order,” says a source in the Lokayukta.
However, despite the changes, the other MLAs are still required to submit the details of their assets and liabilities to the Lokayukta, an order they have denied to follow.
On 11 January, the Lokayukta had stirred the hornet’s nest by serving a notice to Delhi MLAs to file a statement of their assets and liabilities. As AAP denied to follow it, the BJP accused the ruling party of taking a U-turn over the issue of transparency.
A number of AAP MLAs appeared in the Lokayukta’s office on Monday to file replies to the notice served to them. During the proceedings, Delhi Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel submitted a three-point objection to the notice.
"My first objection was that the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker do not fall within the purview of the Lokayukta. After I raised the objection, the Lokayukta modified the order,” he told Firstpost.
The second objection raised by the speaker was that the case, which led to the notice, targetted only AAP MLAs.
"The case in itself is politically motivated. Though the Delhi Assembly has three BJP MLAs, property statement of these MLAs were not sought by the petitioner," said Goel.
The notice was served to the MLAs in response to a case filed in the Lokayukta by a lawyer named Vivek Garg seeking the property details of the AAP MLAs.
But sources in the Lokayukta say that though the petitioner did not mention the details of assets and liabilities of the BJP MLAs, the Lokayukta had notified all the MLAs in the Delhi Assembly to submit details about their assets and liabilities.
"There is no partiality from our side. We have notified all the MLAs in the Delhi Assembly irrespective of what was sought for in the case,” said the source.
The speaker also objected was that no rule was in place to compel the MLAs to file statements of their assets and liability to any authority.
"Last year, the Supreme Court had ordered the Centre to frame laws for MLAs to submit a statement of their assets and liabilities but till now no such rule has been made. Let there be a law for everyone and not for the Delhi Assembly alone,” said Goel.
He also asked why no one is asking property details of MLAs in states ruled by BJP.
The apex court had last year directed the Central Government to set up a permanent mechanism to monitor the accrual of the wealth of sitting MPs and MLAs, their spouses and associates, according to Hindustan Times. Though the move is mulled over the law is yet to be made.
The AAP’s defiance to the Lokayukta is seen in sharp contrast with its much-touted principle of transparency and hence is used by the BJP to take pot shots at it.
BJP MLA Vijender Gupta said that the arguments forwarded by the AAP expose its attempt to hide something
“Everyone knows that the AAP rose to power with the issue of lack of transparency in politics and that of fortifying the Lokpal. But when it is asked to be transparent, the AAP questions the power of the Lokayukta,” he adds
“Even if there is no law to compel the MLAs to submit property statement, should it not be seen as a moral obligation by the AAP to do so? When the Supreme Court judges, MPs and even the prime minister continue to file their statements of assets and liabilities why cannot the AAP MLAs do the same?” he asked.
Gupta is one of the three MLAs (two from BJP and former AAP leader Kapil Mishra) who submitted their asset and liabilities statement to the Lokayukta on Monday. He alleges that the AAP MLAs’ reluctance to do the same speaks in volumes about the corruption going on in the government.
Delhi Government spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj on Monday asserted in a press conference that there is no law that MLAs need to file details of their assets and liabilities to the Lokayukta.
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