Fifty AAP MLAs have told the Delhi Lokayukta that seeking details of their assets is beyond her jurisdiction, prompting the ombudsman to point out that Supreme Court and High Court judges do so even without any law asking them to make such declarations.
“All Supreme Court judges declare their assets and liabilities. They are not obliged to do so. Every High Court judge does the same. They have volunteered to file and place it on public domain. They have no obligation but they do it for the sake of transparency and probity,” Lokayukta Justice (retd) Reva Khetrapal said on Monday.
The case came up for its first hearing on Monday. BJP MLAs Vijender Gupta, Manjinder Singh Sirsa and rebel AAP MLA Kapil Mishra declared their assets and liabilities, which were submitted inside sealed covers. From the AAP, MLAs Madan Lal, Vandana Kumari, Rajesh Rishi, SK Bagga, Mohinder Yadav, Kartar Singh Tanwar, Sahi Ram and Narayan Dutt Sharma attended the hearing.
CM Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia are yet to file their responses. Among Delhi Ministers, only Kailash Gahlot has responded to the notice issued on a complaint made by advocate and BJP functionary Vivek Garg.
It is learnt that in identical replies, the AAP MLAs have stated: “Seeking details of assets and liabilities was beyond the Lokayukta’s jurisdiction; the complaint is politically motivated and the laws cited by the complainant were applicable only to MPs, not MLAs.”
During hearing, when Madan Lal said that the AAP MLAs have not responded as the complaint was “defamatory”, Khetrapal retorted: “Why don’t you redeem yourself by filing it now?”
Khetrapal also asked to be kept on record, “pending the hearing of arguments and adjudication of the matter”, the letter written to her by Speaker Ram Niwas Goel urging that the notices be recalled. She said the notices to Speaker and Deputy Speaker, which go against the Delhi Upalokayukta Act, were served “accidentally”.
Complainant Garg was also asked by the Lokayukta to file an amended memo of parties within a week as his original complaint did not specifically name the BJP MLAs. “Replies have not been filed by the remaining respondents though notices have been duly served on them… fresh notice shall be issued to the respondents who haven’t filed their replies, urging them to respond within three weeks from today,” Khetrapal said. The AAP later said in a statement: “The AAP MLAs had declared their assets in their poll affidavits and will do so again…The notice by Lokayukta to MLAs is mala fide…”