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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

Democracy can’t be confined within Assembly: Delhi govt

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 13, 2014
First Published: 00:20 IST(13/2/2014) | Last Updated: 00:24 IST(13/2/2014)

Heading for a showdown, the AAP government in government on Wednesday said it would go ahead with its decision to pass the Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill at a special assembly session in an open stadium on Sunday.

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Reiterating its earlier stand, the Delhi Cabinet argued that “democracy must not be confined within four walls”.

The cabinet took up the issue of holding a special session of the state assembly in an open stadium following the Lieutenant Governor’s letter to the chief minister. The L-G had asked him to reconsider the February 3 cabinet decision to hold the session in a stadium.

The L-G had referred to the reservations expressed by Delhi Police in providing security for such an event. “The cabinet reconsidered the matter and decided to reiterate its earlier decision to the L-G, since it is of the unanimous opinion that such a crucial anti-corruption legislation needs to be taken to the people directly and democracy must not be confined within four walls,” a government spokesperson said.

The Delhi government has called a four-day session from February 13 to table and pass its two flagship laws — the Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill and Delhi Nagara Swaraj Bill. The government intends to table the two bills on the floor of the house on Thursday and seek voting at a specially convened session in a stadium on Sunday.

The Delhi government spokesperson said elected representatives should debate in front of the public who elect them and this is a first step in that direction. The cabinet requested the L-G to apprise the Delhi Police of its view that the force has been providing protection for much larger sports, commercial and entertainment events. “The cabinet sees no reason why Delhi Police should be reluctant to manage a single-day session that will last only for a few hours,” the spokesperson said.

The Congress and the BJP had been arguing that there was no law that allowed the government to hold the proceedings of the house outside the “precincts of Vidhan Sabha”.

Constitutional expert and former Delhi Vidhan Sabha secretary SK Sharma agreed with the Opposition claim that the council of ministers cannot decide the venue of the assembly session.

“The Constitution has clearly defined what precincts of the House means. The power to decide the venue has been given to the House. The chief minister is just a member of the House. Any person who violates the powers and the privileges of the House can even be reprimanded by the Speaker and be fined,” Sharma said.


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