Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena on Monday ordered the chief secretary to recover Rs 97 crore from the Aam Aadmi Party, accusing the outfit of publishing political advertisements as government ads using the exchequer’s money, ANI reported.

However, the ruling party on Tuesday said Saxena has no power to pass such orders.

“These won’t stand in front of the law,” AAP chief spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said. “Other state governments also issue advertisements. The BJP’s various state governments issued advertisements that have been published here. We want to ask when will the Rs 22,000 crore spent on the advertisements be recovered from them? The day that money is recovered, we will also give Rs 97 crore.”

In his Monday’s order, the lieutenant governor also asked the chief secretary to refer all advertisements since September 2016 to a committee set up by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to ascertain if they were in consonance with the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court.

In 2015, the Supreme Court had formed the rules to regulate government advertising and stop unproductive expenditure. After this, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting formed the committee to regulate content in government advertising.

The panel investigated the advertisements published by the Delhi government’s Directorate of Information and Publicity. It issued an order in September 2016, identifying those ads which were in “stark violation of the guidelines” set by the Supreme Court.

The committee had found that Rs 97.14 crore had been spent or booked on account of “non-conforming advertisements”. Of this, while payments amounting to over Rs 42.26 crore had already been released by the Directorate of Information and Publicity, Rs 54.87 crore for advertisements published were still pending, ANI reported.

In 2017, the Directorate of Information and Publicity directed the Arvind Kejriwal-led party to pay over Rs 42.26 crore to the state exchequer immediately and to give the pending amount to the advertising agencies within 30 days, according to PTI.

However, according to the lieutenant governor, the Aam Aadmi Party has not complied with the directive.

“All this was done by AAP and its ministers by resorting to grossly illegal move which entailed putting in place a committee of its own to look into violations of the Supreme Court guidelines,” a statement from Saxena said.

He added: “This in itself was illegal, since the committee appointed by the GoI [Government of India] as per orders of the Supreme Court, was authorised and empowered with jurisdiction over all GoI advertisements as well as those issued by the Union Territories, that includes Delhi.”

Meanwhile, Bharadwaj linked Saxena’s order to the Aam Aadmi Party ending the 15-year reign of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.

“The BJP is flustered that we have become a national party,” the spokesperson said. “LG sahab is doing everything in accordance with the BJP’s directions and that is troubling the people of Delhi. The more worried Delhi people are, the happier the BJP gets.”