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HindustanTimes Wed,30 Jul 2014

Delhi govt trying to bypass Centre on lokpal bill?

Neelam Pandey, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 31, 2014
First Published: 01:07 IST(31/1/2014) | Last Updated: 01:22 IST(31/1/2014)

The Delhi government is likely to clear the draft of the much-awaited Jan Lokpal bill in a cabinet meeting on Friday. While a go-ahead from the cabinet will be a cakewalk, the real hurdle would be getting it passed in the Assembly.

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A major confrontation is in the offing between the AAP-led Delhi government and the Centre as the chief minister is looking at ways to bypass the Central government. As per law, the Centre’s approval is required to clear the bill.

Government sources said that the law department is of the opinion that the bill should be sent to the home ministry before clearing it in the special assembly session of the government.

But the state government fears that if it sends the bill to the home ministry through the Lt-Governor, there are chances it would get stuck. "If it is sent to the home ministry, it is very unlikely it will be tabled in the special assembly session in February," said a senior Delhi government official.

The assembly session is likely to be held from February 13 to 16. "On February 16, the session is likely to be held at Ramlila Maidan to pass the Jan Lokpal bill. On the remaining days, it will be held at Vidhan Sabha," said an official.

The government has sought legal opinion from various experts to bypass the Centre. "The government maintains that a bill for the final assent of the president to turn it into a law is required to be sent according to the constitution once the assembly passes it. This is based on opinions sought from eminent constitutional experts," said a government spokesperson.

Government sources said that this would adversely affect the relations between the Congress and AAP, which is already on shaky ground. The Congress has extended outside support to the AAP government in Delhi.

Another major issue of contention is the fact that the draft Delhi Lokayukta Bill 2014 proposes to bring the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and Delhi Police under its ambit.

"Under transaction of business rules, the permission of the Lt-Governor is required to be obtained by the department concerned. Under the assembly rules, the secretary will list the legislative proposal only after minister has put the L-G’s recommendation.

The L-G too will send it to the home ministry to check if the provisions of the existing law are not in conflict with the one that is proposed to be cleared. Hence, bypassing both is not possible in any circumstances," SK Sharma, former secretary of the Lok Sabha and Delhi assembly.

According to the draft, all public officials, including the chief minister, ministers and all MLAs of the Delhi government will fall in the purview of the investigation of the Lokayukta. Public officials will be required to furnish annual declaration of assets.


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