Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Jan Lokpal Bill can be rejected by Lieutenant Governor
New Delhi – On Sunday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal says he will present his anti-graft Jan Lokpal Bill to lawmakers for their review.
Mr Kejriwal is adamant that the proposal must be deliberated at a city stadium, with the public in attendance, and that he will not defer the discussion till it is disentangled from a series of legal complications.
The Centre’s top lawyers have said that the bill, which creates an ombudsman or Lokpal, cannot be debated by Delhi legislators till it is vetted by the union Home Ministry.
But even if Mr Kejriwal , who has emphatically dismissed that advice, ploughs ahead and manages to push the bill through the Delhi Assembly, it could end up in a political cul-de-sac.
Here’s why. In December, Parliament passed a national Lokpal law. Legal experts have told the government that Mr Kejriwal’s iteration for Delhi overlaps with the national version. So the constitutional head of Delhi, Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, can reject Mr Kejriwal’s proposal even if it is cleared by the Delhi Assembly.
The ombudsman agency for Delhi that Mr Kejriwal is proposing would be funded at least in part by the Centre. Also, a law passed in 2002 requires all Delhi bills to be sanctioned by the union Home Ministry before they are brought to the state legislature.
But Mr Kejriwal has pointed out that 13 laws for Delhi introduced during the governance of his predecessor, Sheila Dikshit, did not follow this procedure.
His year-old Aam Aadmi Party or AAP claims that the Centre wants to stall his anti-corruption measure to dent Mr Kejriwal’s positioning as a leader determined to clean up politics – a stand that delivered results of astonishing proportions in the Delhi election in December. Buoyed by that success, the AAP has drawn up large plans for the national election, due by May.
Mr Kejriwal’s success in Delhi has forced the two political behemoths – the BJP and the Congress – to place fighting corruption at the top of their agendas.