Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung’s message to Speaker Maninder Singh Dhir late on Thursday evening put a spanner in Aam Aadmi Party’s government’s plan to introduce the janlokpal bill in Delhi Assembly on Friday.
In his letter to Dhir, Jung cited the provisions of Government of NCT of Delhi Act of 1991 and Transaction of Business Rules of 1993 to inform the House that the Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill required prior reference to the Central government before being introduced in the legislative assembly.
Being a financial bill by nature, experts said the janlokpal bill required prior approval from the L-G and the Centre before it could be introduced in the House for legislators to discuss and approve it. Since the central government has already made a similar legislation under the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, it would have looked at the Delhi Bill to ensure its provisions were not in contravention to the central Act.
After getting the bill cleared by its council of ministers, the Kejriwal government had made it clear that they were not going to refer the Bill to the Centre. The government feared that once the draft was referred to the Centre, the file may take months to come back.
“The provisions of the Delhi janlokpal bill were so strong that the Centre would have never approved it in its original form,” a government source said.
While the Kejriwal government insisted that it was written nowhere in the Constitution that states required the Centre’s approval for introducing such a Bill, the L-G decided to take opinion from the solicitor general as well as the home and law ministries.
“Both the ministries told the L-G that introduction of a Bill that may be repugnant to the Central Act needs prior assent from the President. The L-G thus used his veto power and wrote to the Speaker to not consider the Bill unless it is introduced with his recommendations,” a source said.
“As the Jan Lokpal Bill is being introduced in the legislative assembly without following the procedures indicated above, I hereby send the message under section 9 (2) of the Government of NCT of Delhi Act, 1991 to the legislative assembly, not to consider the Bill unless it is introduced with the recommendations of the lieutenant governor,” the message read.