Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014

Have to deliver model for nation: Lawyer drafting Delhi Lokpal Bill

Rahul Mehra Rahul Mehra
Written by Aneesha Mathur | Delhi | Posted: January 13, 2014 1:09 am

As the only non-bureaucrat in the high-powered committee constituted to draft the new Lokayukta Bill for Delhi, advocate Rahul Mehra, one of the founding members of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), holds the responsibility to bring the idealism of the Jan Lokpal movement and the AAP to fruition.

As a lawyer and activist, Mehra, an alumnus of Modern School, Barakhamba Road, and Hindu College, is responsible for several public interest litigations aimed at regulating various sports bodies in the country, the most notable being a PIL which brought the BCCI within the ambit of the RTI. The lawyer was also part of the central government working committee constituted last year to draft the Sports Code Bill.

The Delhi government has constituted a committee consisting of the chief secretary, and the secretaries of Law, Finance, Home and Urban Development departments to deliberate and create a draft Bill to replace the existing Delhi Lokayukta Act. Mehra is the sixth member of the high-powered panel, which held lengthy deliberations on Friday, and has been asked by the chief minister to create the draft Bill by January 15.

Speaking to Newsline, Mehra said the party now had the “responsibility to become the voice of the people” as well as the “golden opportunity” to deliver a Bill that would measure up to the ideals and promises of the AAP.

“The soul of this new Bill will be the Jan Lokpal Bill. We now have the golden opportunity to deliver a Bill that will be the model for the rest of the country,” he said.

The committee is also taking into account the draft Model Lokayukta Bill created in 2012 by the national Lokayuktas conference, and the Uttarakhand Lokayukta Bill, which recently received Presidential assent. Mehra himself has also put forward a draft Bill for consideration by the committee, based on the Jan Lokpal.

The Uttarakhand Bill received Presidential assent in October last year, and contains provisions to keep the Lokayukta independent of government control and allows for setting up of special courts to probe corruption charges. The law also has a provision to ensure security of whistle-blowers.

However, Mehra said the new draft Bill would have better mechanisms and provisions to make the Lokayukta more effective. “The Uttarakhand Bill was diluted before it received Presidential assent. We are looking at it as a base model and will come up with better measures,” he said.

Provisions for independent investigation and prosecution departments, as well as protection for whistle-blowers will be incorporated into the Bill. The citizens’ charter, which has remained at the forefront of the Jan Lokpal movement, is also likely to be incorporated into the new law.

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