The Delhi Cabinet on Monday cleared the draft Delhi Lokpal Bill 2014, which seeks to have the Delhi Police, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and municipal bodies under its ambit. Urban Development Minister Manish Sisodia said the government would send the Bill to the central government only after it has been passed by the Delhi Assembly. This could lead to fresh confrontation between the Delhi government and the Centre.
Sources said the Law department had said that the Delhi government has to get clearance from the Home Ministry before tabling any Bill. “The AAP government is following Constitutional norms and it is not binding on the government to get it vetted by the Centre first. This has just been the convention that was followed in the last 15 years,” a government spokesperson said.
When asked whether the Delhi Police, the DDA and the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) will come under the ambit of the Lokpal, officials said that because these three bodies come under the purview of the Delhi government’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), they will automatically come under the ambit of the proposed legislation when the ACB is merged with the Lokpal.
The Bill will also have powers to probe the chief minister, Sisodia said, adding that life imprisonment would be the maximum punishment the Bill will provide for in corruption cases. The punishment in cases of corruption will range from six months to 10 years and life imprisonment in rare cases.
“The only law which comes close to this Bill is the Bill passed by the Uttarakhand Assembly in 2011, but it too has some limitations in filing complaints against the CM and ministers. This Bill, for the first time, provides a legal right of protection for whistle- blowers and witnesses in corruption cases,” Sisodia said.
The Bill also has provision for special awards for honest officers, among other incentives.
Lokpal will have the power to initiate investigation on its own (suo motu) or on a complaint from an individual. “This was one of the most widely debated Bills in India’s parliamentary history over the last few decades and the Delhi government is of the view that it has come up with an effective Bill to restore the confidence of the public in its elected representatives and other public servants,” he told reporters after the Cabinet meeting.
The Lokpal will have a chairperson and 10 members. “The chairperson and members will be selected by a panel comprising the chief minister and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly unlike the central Jan Lokpal, which has several political members,” Sisodia said.
SAI no to stadium for session
Keeping in view security considerations, the Delhi government may have to find a new venue for a special session of the Delhi Assembly after the Sports Authority of India (SAI) declined the use of the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium. SAI Director General Jiji Thomson said, “We declined the request from the Delhi government on January 31 because we have three national camps running. There is no way we can accommodate the Delhi government’s request.” Sources in the government said they were considering other options.