New Delhi, Oct 24: Under attack over charging her hosts business class for economy class travel, Team Anna member Kiran Bedi today offered to return the excess money collected but it did not cut much ice with her detractors. As a controversy raged with several prominent figures, including former Chief Justice J S Verma, questioning her action, Bedi said the trustees of her NGO India Vision Foundation have asked her travel agent to return the balance amount to the hosts.
“Trustees have instructed the travel agent to return the balance amounts forthwith. They have already passed a resolution directing me to travel strictly as per invite. This leaves no room for discretion,” she said. She said the travel agent Anil Bal, who is also a trustee of the Foundation, was handling the travel account and has been asked to return the money. Bal's agency was handling the travel assignments of Bedi.
The Trustees, including adman Prahlad Kakkar, Laveleen Thadani, Achal Paul, Pradeep Halwasiya, Amarjit Singh and Sunil Nanda, were of the view that she need not save money for the NGO in this way, she told PTI.
Allegations were levelled against Bedi that she overcharged hosts by inflating her travel bills and that she availed discounts on air tickets using her gallantry medal. She defended herself saying she did not personally benefit and that the money thus saved went to the Foundation.
Reacting to Bedi's move, Congress leader Digvijay Singh said, “This means if the corrupt people return money, they will also be absolved of their crime. Then why has A Raja been kept in jail. Raja also returns money and comes out?”
Bedi said she never handled the money and the agency issued the receipts and received the money. “So the Trustees have asked the agency to return the money which is lying in the travel account,” she said.
The Trustees were also of the view that the money should be returned as it was bringing bad name to the NGO which is involved in good work, she said.
Verma yesterday hit out at Bedi and said claiming money which one has not spent was “unacceptable” and “more upsetting” is the justification given by the ex-police officer that she was spending for a cause.