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HindustanTimes Thu,17 Apr 2014

BJP, Congress join hands to defeat Janlokpal Bill: AAP

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 08, 2014
First Published: 16:11 IST(8/2/2014) | Last Updated: 16:14 IST(8/2/2014)

Aam Aadmi Party on Saturday said the Congress and BJP have joined hands to stop the passage of the Janlokpal Bill in Delhi assembly. AAP leader Gopal Rai told reporters that the party, which made a spectacular electoral debut in Delhi by unseating Congress, will take to streets, if needed, to ensure the passage of the bill which will set up a people's anti-corruption ombudsman.

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Former lawyer and senior AAP leader Prashant Bhushan mocked both Congress and BJP, saying are these parties "so scared" that they don't want to discuss the Janlokpal Bill.

Congress, which is supporting the AAP government, has termed Janlokpal as unconstitutional, a contention Bhushan termed erroneous.

"The Constitution doesn't say Delhi government's bills need prior nod from the Centre or the President before introduction," Bhushan said.

The Constitution gives full powers to Delhi assembly to enact laws for the capital, he said.

The party issued a press statement saying a certain section of the media "wrongly reported" that the CM sought the opinion of constitutional experts on the Janlokpal Bill.

"It is highly regrettable that desperate attempts were made by a section of media to draw erroneous conclusions," the statement said.

Deliberate attempts were made by this section of the media to twist facts about the CM's letter to Delhi Lieutenant General Najeeb Jung, it added.

Kejriwal had on Friday said the Janlokpal Bill cleared by his cabinet was not unconstitutional, throwing an open challenge to Jung, who has sought the solicitor general's views on the matter.

The stand-off between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Centre over the anti-graft legislation had intensified, with the home ministry saying the bill would have to be sent to the Union government for legal vetting.

Kejriwal wrote a letter to Jung, standing by the constitutionality of the bill, which was a key agenda of the AAP during the campaign phase for the Delhi assembly elections.

The Delhi CM 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 came 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 Janlokpal 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 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.

But Bhatt, a former additional solicitor general, on Saturday told PTI he was not consulted on the Janlokpal Bill but only on the validity of some rules.

"As far as I am concerned, I was asked about the validity of rule 55 of the Transaction of Business rules," Bhatt said.

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