Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday said the jan lokpal bill cleared by his cabinet was not unconstitutional, throwing an open challenge to lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung, who has sought the solicitor general's views on the matter.
Kejriwal wrote a letter to Jung, standing by the legality of the anti-graft law, which was a key agenda of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) during the campaign phase for the Delhi assembly elections.
"I am aware that there is tremendous pressure on you from the Congress and the (Union) home ministry."
"I am aware that in the coming days they will put pressure on you so that you don't allow the (special) Delhi assembly session (called to pass the Lokpal bill) at the Indira Gandhi (indoor) stadium," he said in the letter.
Kejriwal advised Jung, who had administered the CM's oath of office at Ramlila Maidan last December, not to act under pressure by any political party, as he had taken the pledge to work under the constitution.
Kejriwal's letter comes on a day when AAP leader Ashutosh called the lieutenant governor an "agent of the Congress" in the wake of a confidential letter between Jung and solicitor general Mohan Parasaran being leaked.
Jung had asked for Parasaran's opinion on the constitutionality of the Delhi government's proposal to enact the bill without seeking the Centre's clearance.
The solicitor general has reportedly claimed the bill is unconstitutional. He is also believed to have told Jung that Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, passed last year by Parliament, is in force and a lokpal bill in Delhi will be repugnant to the central law. Therefore, it will require the assent of the President.
Kejriwal, in his letter, however, claimed the bill did not need such approval. He said in his three-page letter in Hindi that the AAP government had been told by former chief justice of Punjab and Haryana high court, Mukul Mudgal, and lawyers PV Kapur, KN Bhatt and Pinaki Misra that the bill need not be shown to the central government.
Delhi assembly speaker Maninder Singh Dhir also feels the bill does not require a nod from the President or the Governor or the Lieutenant Governor.
"The rules say that a 'Money Bill' - the budget or any bill related to taxes - cannot be tabled on the floor of the house without prior permission of the President or the Governor or the Lieutenant Governor, as the case may be.
"But a financial bill does not need prior approval from the head of the state before tabling it. The Jan Lokpal Bill is a financial bill and does not need the L-G's prior approval. But before it is passed by the house, the L-G must approve it," he told HT in an interview.
However, the Congress, which gives outside support to the AAP government, said it would not allow the tabling of the bill .
"Our objection is that the provisions of the constitution regarding the obtaining of prior approval from the Centre and L-G are not being followed," said Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh Lovely.
(WIth PTI and IANS inputs)