Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Jan Lokpal Bill can be rejected by Lieutenant Governor
New Delhi – Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s anti-corruption Jan Lokpal Bill confronts a new legal hurdle before it can be presented to the Delhi legislature for enactment.
Sources have told NDTV that the Law Ministry believes the Lieutenant Governor is within his rights to reject or approve the bill as it has financial implications and will be partly funded by the Centre.
Mr Kejriwal is adamant about presenting the bill on Sunday in a special open session at a city stadium, where he has invited the public. He has rejected the centre’s opinion that the bill must be vetted by the home ministry first as Parliament has already enacted a Lokpal law.
Sources say the Law Ministry is of the opinion that Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung can withhold his assent, even if the bill is passed in the assembly, on grounds that it is “unconstitutional” and overlaps the central law.
This legal opinion adds another layer to the political battle over the Jan Lokpal Bill, which was at the heart of Mr Kejriwal’s campaign for the Delhi election.
The bill creates an ombudsman or “Lokpal” empowered to investigate allegations of corruption among government officers and prescribes a maximum punishment of life term.
Ahead of the national election, due by May, no party wants to be seen as opposing an anti-corruption measure, even though the Jan Lokpal Bill has been described by its critics as extreme and unrealistic.
Mr Kejriwal is believed to have conceded a major change to the bill to make it more acceptable to the BJP. (read) Sources say that the Chief Minister has amended the bill so that the ombudsman will not decide the punishment for a convicted office; a court will decide the penalty.
The Congress, which provides external support to the Aam Aadmi Party government and does not want to be seen as the villain of the piece, may wait for the Lieutenant Governor to use his veto, say sources.