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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014

Delhi govt draws flak as Swaraj Bill skips public opinion

Neelam Pandey, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 12, 2014
First Published: 00:54 IST(12/2/2014) | Last Updated: 09:45 IST(12/2/2014)

The Delhi government’s Swaraj Bill aims at empowering people by setting up mohalla sabhas across the city and giving power to the people in running day-to-day affairs. But it has not put the draft in the public domain to invite suggestions or objections from the people, a move questioned by various government departments.

According to senior officials, various departments in their comments on the draft bill have questioned the move of not circulating the draft among the public.

“The process of framing such a historic Act of direct democracy should also follow the basic tenet, philosophy of direct democracy. After framing the Bill, it should be put in the public domain for public debate. Only after threadbare discussions on every clause of the Bill, incorporating suggestions and observation from different quarters it should be put before the cabinet for approval,” reads one of the comments by a department.

In its reply, the department concerned has justified the move by stating that since it was decided to introduce the bill in the forthcoming session of the assembly from February 13, putting it in the public domain was not possible.

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Sources in the government further said that a number of senior officials had raised this question in meetings held recently to finalise the bill.

The Resident Welfare Associations have also questioned the move.

“I’ve sent him a mail asking him to at least place the draft in the public domain. This should be the basic thing for the government to do. They are brining in a system for the people and are not even including them in the decision-making process,’ said BS Vohra, east Delhi RWA joint front president.

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On Monday, former Team Anna member Kiran Bedi had raised this issue. “Heard over TV that the Jan Lokpal Bill has not even been circulated to elected members for consideration! They are hearing it only from the media” Bedi had tweeted on Monday.

The draft of the bill is likely to be tabled in the cabinet meeting to be held on Wednesday for approval. As per the draft, the mohallas will receive funds from the government and use them according to the needs.


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