Kiran Bedi is fond of hogging the lime light. But the present news items and allegations relating to numerous false billings in relation to her flights over the years have caught her on the wrong foot. They are far more serious than she and her friends are willing to concede.
I belong to the 1968 batch of Indian Revenue Service, senior to her in age and experience by several years.
A petty clerk, or for that matter, any other employee, both in the private and government sector, is dismissed from service for a single instance of similar over (or false) billing. Here we have a series of systematic false billings.
For all I know, the allegations may not be correct. I would be extremely happy if they are proved to be false.
Or they may be partly distorted.
But Kiran Bedi owes it to everyone to disclose the facts and come out clean. It is not sufficient for her and her friends to say, “ let the authorities make any enquiry against her and hang her if she is guilty “.
Coming to the allegations.
What are the allegations? What are the facts? And why Kiran Bedi should disclose details of the concerned expenses?
It is a fundamental expectation that those who fight for transparency should themselves be transparent. Otherwise, they lose the moral authority to be leaders. The public will discard them like rotten maggots.
For the moment, the allegations may not prove corruption, but they certainly demand and merit transparency. Kiran Bedi should make public the relevant facts.
My own conclusions (which of course, may not be fully or even partly incorrect) are as follows:
1. Kiran Bedi did ask for, and received, reimbursement of her inflated air travel fares, consistently and systematically, over several years. These were probably made on the basis of estimates (or proforma invoices) conveniently supplied by Anil Bal, her travel agent and co-trustee.
2. Later, Kiran Bedi made payments for her travel expenses to Anil Bal, her travel agent and co-trustee on the basis of actuals, which of course are far less.
3. Kiran Bedi claims that all the amounts she received, including some from other activities, like books, etc. went to the trust.
4. The question arises whether or not Kiran Bedi attended the meetings and conferences in her personal capacity. If she did, then the entire excess of receipts less actual expenses would constitute her personal income. Of course, she can make donations to NGOs and claim exemption as per law. But all the receipts and expenses must be shown in her personal income tax returns.
5. On the other hand, if she attended the meetings, etc. on behalf of her NGO, were the activities justified by the objects of the NGO.
6. In any event, claiming air fare on the basis of false bills, I repeat false bills, is a serious crime. The motives are not relevant. Robbing the rich to help the poor would constitute the same serious offence. The law is as simple as this.
7. Kiran Bedi says enquire and hang me if I am guilty. Great words ! Who will file a complaint against you and invite problems? Every prudent person will just keep mum. And even if you are guilty, you cannot be hanged. There is no such penalty for such financial crimes. And everyone knows that an enquiry takes a long time……
8. Kiran Bedi, if you have any sense of self respect, you should publish full details of all the concerned lectures and talks; names and addresses of the invitors, details of the expenses claimed, received and incurred, and on what basis you claimed the inflated expenses. You should also publish full details of your own personal contributions to the trust. After all what is there to hide?
9. By the way, I went through the web site of her trust – India Vision Foundation.
There are no details of the various donations received…only a long list of names.
If this is what transparency is all about for our leaders, God help this nation.