Their photos printed on loan forms to woo voters: Harsh Vardhan

Delhi Lokayukta Manmohan Sarin on Friday issued notices to Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and PWD Minister Raj Kumar Chauhan on a complaint by former Delhi Minister Harsh Vardhan that there was “violation of norms of integrity and conduct” in the publication of their photographs on the loan application forms of the SC/ST/OBC/Minority and Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation.

Justice Sarin had earlier issued notices to the Corporation “to produce the record in relation to the decision-making process for the printing of photographs”. This, he said, was done “to ascertain whether the respondent public functionaries were themselves responsible for the decision or it was a case of the officers of the Corporation taking such a decision to project their loyalty with the Minister and the Chief Minister”.

A perusal of the records, the Lokayukta said, had revealed that “the officials of the Corporation had proposed printing of application form without any photographs”. However, he said, Mr. Chauhan “desired that before printing of new forms, a sample form should be obtained from the Food & Supply Department and the application form should be printed on the same pattern”.

The Lokayukta’s order said, “Following this direction, sample of the said forms were obtained”. These carried the photographs of the Chief Minister and the Minister for Food & Supply Haroon Yusuf. “The said form of the Food & Supply Department was with the caption ‘Kerosene Mukt Delhi’ with photographs of Chief Minister and Minister,” he said.

Stating that “the said note was signed by the Minister and Chief Minister” and pursuant thereto their photographs were printed on the loan form for distribution, Mr. Justice Sarin said it is the contention of Dr. Harsh Vardhan that “in view of the impending elections, it is a projection of their candidature and attempt to woo the voters and segments of this class of population for electoral popularity”.

In his earlier order in September, Justice Sarin stated that the complainant had noted that while neither Ms. Dikshit nor Mr. Chauhan had a direct role in the functioning of the Corporation, yet the pictures have been used to gain popularity and woo the voters. That order had also noted that application form for loans which used to be supplied free-of-cost were being sold for Rs.100.

On behalf of the Corporation it was also stated that it would be better that the “comprehensive response” of the respondents was taken on the matter and that “there have been instances where photographs of leaders from different political parties have also appeared on various forms and posters without objection”.

Justice Sarin said: “Considering the matter in the background of the averments and submissions made during the arguments for issuance of notice, prima facie a case for issuance of notice was made out.” He then issued notices to the Chief Minister and Mr. Chauhan “as to why an inquiry be not held under Section 7 read with Section 2(b) of the Delhi Lokayukta and Upalokayukta Act, 1995” against them.

The notice is returnable on December 10.

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