Kiran Lokpal Bedi buys discount air tickets, gets hosts to pay full fare

FP

Kiran Bedi, one of the most vocal members of Team Anna, who riled Members of Parliament with her Ramlila ghoonghat act, may herself have some explaining to do. The issue: the inflated travel expenses she has been charging NGOs and institutions which invite her for seminars or meetings.

Records of bills, invoices and copies of cheques with The Indian Express show that Bedi, who is entitled to a rebate on Air India tickets as a gallantry award winner, pays discount fares but charges her host institutions the full fare. She has also, at times, claimed Business class fare while flying Economy.

The Indian Express has 12 recorded examples of this, some of which date back to 2006 when Bedi was a serving IPS officer. Her last such travel for which an inflated invoice was sent was as recent as September 29.

Reimbursement cheques for these fares were credited to India Vision Foundation, the NGO headed by Bedi. Her chartered accountant Suresh Vyas said that what was being seen as a "mismatch" was actually a "saving" done by them ó with Bedi spending less than what she was reimbursed for. Vyas said the money came in handy for travels for causes for which Bedi got no remuneration.

According to government guidelines dated February 2001, all gallantry award winners are entitled to 75 per cent discount on Economy class tickets on board Air India. Bedi was awarded the President's Medal for Gallantry in 1979. Her GA (gallantry award) number is 433.

Consider these instances:

September 29, 2011: Bedi flew Delhi-Hyderabad on Air India (AI 560), then Hyderabad-Chennai (AI 546), in Economy class. The next day, she took a flight back to Delhi (AI 539).

Total fare paid: Rs 17,134.

Invoice generated for: Rs 73,117 (payment is pending).

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