New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee has rejected Delhi Lokayukta`s recommendation to administer "caution" to Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and recover a sum of Rs 11 crore either from her or Congress for alleged misuse of public funds on advertisement campaign ahead of 2008 polls.
The recommendation of the Lokayukta in the case made in May has been rejected by the President, government sources said.
The decision comes a fortnight after a Delhi court ordered registration of FIR against Dikshit and others in the same case. However, the High Court had stayed the order till September 19 after the Delhi government challenged it.
Lokayukta Justice Manmohan Sarin had recommended to the President to administer "caution" to Dikshit for alleged misuse of public funds for a series of advertisements carried out in print and outdoor media in 2007-08 with punchline "Delhi is changing".
The anti-graft ombudsman had also recommended to the President to "advise" Dikshit to reimburse either herself or through her party a sum of Rs 11 crore as half the cost of the advertisements in 2008 or any amount the President finds adequate.
The rejection of the Lokayukta order is seen as huge relief to Dikshit ahead of the assembly polls slated for November when she will try to seek an unprecedented fourth consecutive victory.
Dikshit had rejected the allegations.
The Chief Minister was holding charge of the Department of Information and Publicity when the advertisement campaign was carried out.
The court order had come following a complaint filed by Delhi BJP leader Vijender Gupta who had alleged that Dikshit had misused government funds to the tune of Rs 22.56 crore in the advertisement campaign.
The Lokayukta had initiated the inquiry into the matter following a complaint filed in 2009 also by Gupta.
In his complaint, Gupta had charged Dikshit with abusing her position as Chief Minister by carrying out an advertisement campaign with a view to gain political mileage in the assembly election in 2008.
Gupta had alleged the government machinery, particularly the Department of Information and Publicity, was instructed to make an elaborate plan to project the Chief Minister in a positive light to gain advantage during election and overcome the anti-incumbency factor.
"The pattern of advertisements published by the government of Delhi and the Congress Party clearly establishesa proximate and inextricable nexus between the two," said the Lokayukta order while referring to advertisements carried out by Congress party as well.
The Lokayukta had also recommended to the President to direct the government to frame guidelines for publication of government advertisements to prevent misuse of public funds in future.
An article titled "Sheila Ki Campaign Ranniti" authored by Uday Sahay, the then Director of Information and Publicity Department, had disclosed the strategy devised by Chief Minister and her department to make an elaborate campaign to overcome the anti-incumbency factor for her and to project the Chief Minister and help her win the election in 2008, the Lokayukta had said.
Justice Sarin said the article was published in a newpaper on June 29, 2009.