As the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government continues to be at loggerheads with Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung on the issue of seeking prior approval of the Centre for introducing the Jan Lokpal Bill in the Assembly, former Punjab and Haryana High Court chief justice Mukul Mudgal Sunday asked the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government to be careful about its choice of words.
“I am dismayed by the kind of language Delhi government functionaries are using. The LG, apart from being a Constitutional functionary, is a very decent man and I have high respect for him. In conducting its politics, the government should be extremely careful of its words and the language it uses. They may not agree with somebody’s point of view, but that doesn’t mean they should use such uncalled-for language when referring to the LG,” Justice Mudgal told The Indian Express.
The views of the jurist are significant as he is among the four whose legal opinion the AAP government has been referring to as it questions the legal advice given by Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran to Jung. In his opinion, Parasaran had said that as per Section 22(3) of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991, the Jan Lokpal Bill, since it could involve expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of the Capital, has to be cleared by the LG before it could be introduced in the Assembly.
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While questioning the motive of the LG in seeking Parasaran’s opinion, Kejriwal had claimed that his government decided to move ahead on the Bill only after four jurists, including Justice Mudgal, gave a favourable opinion.
Asked about this by the Express, Justice Mudgal said, “Please ask the government. I have said whatever I had to say in my opinion.”
Earlier two other jurists cited by Kejriwal, former additional solicitor general of India K N Bhat and senior advocate Pinaki Mishra, had told The Indian Express that they had not been asked specifically about the Jan Lokpal Bill.
In his opinion to the Delhi government, Justice Mudgal had suggested that “by way of abundant caution”, the state government could challenge in court the “constitutional validity” of Rule 55(1) of the Transaction of Business of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Rules, 1993, which makes it mandatory for the Delhi government to seek prior approval of the LG/Centre before introducing money Bills in the Assembly.
The choice of two questions that the Kejriwal government put to jurists underlines what Bhat and Mishra told this paper. The first asks whether Rule 55(1) overrides the Constitutional provisions by mandating a prior reference by the LG to the Hon’ble of “every legislative proposal” of the Delhi Assembly before the introduction of every Bill sought to be tabled or enacted. The second asks if Rule 55(1) was created only in aid and furtherance of Article 239AA(3)(c) of the Constitution or if it was provided for “conferring an exclusive power to the Union Government to overlook and veto the legislative capacity of the Legislative Assembly of Delhi?”.
Nowhere is it clarified that the questions relate to the proposed Jan Lokpal Bill, which the Delhi government wants passed in the Assembly without seeking prior approval of the LG for introduction.
“Since Rule 55(1) clearly says that all Bills that, if passed, would result in additional financial assistance from the Central Government through substantive expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of the Capital, would have to be referred by the LG to the Centre, there shouldn’t be any confusion. Even though I have not seen the Jan Lokpal Bill which the government intends to get passed, I think it would involve financial burden on the Consolidated Fund of the Capital. Therefore, this Bill will first have to be cleared by the LG before introduction and, once passed by the House, sent to the President by the LG for assent,” said a Constitutional expert.