Saturday, Nov 22, 2014

Jan Lokpal needs Centre’s nod, Solicitor General tells Lt-Governor Najeeb Jung

Solicitor General said the Bill must be presented to the Lieutenant Governor before it is tabled in the state Assembly. (IE Photo: Prem Nath Pandey) Solicitor General said the Bill must be presented to the Lieutenant Governor before it is tabled in the state Assembly. (IE Photo: Prem Nath Pandey)
Written by Arun Mohan Sukumar | New Delhi | Posted: February 6, 2014 9:59 pm

Raising a red flag over the move by Delhi’s AAP government’s to bypass the Centre on the Jan Lokpal Bill, Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran has said the Bill must be presented to the Lieutenant Governor before it is tabled in the state Assembly.

Parasaran has said the Bill can “become law in the National Capital Territory only after it receives the President’s assent”, it is learnt.

His opinion came in response to L-G Najeeb Jung’s request for counsel on two counts: whether presenting the Bill in the Assembly “without sending the legislative proposal to the Central government” —  as Arvind Kejriwal’s government has sought to do — violates the constitution; and whether the Delhi government has the power to legislate on matters concerning the Delhi Police and the Delhi Development Authority.

Parasaran’s opinion suggests the Delhi government will not only be violating the constitution if it sticks to its plan of “directly” discussing the Bill on the floor of the house, but adds that Presidential sanction is required to bring the Delhi Police under the Jan Lokpal.

To support his opinion, the Solicitor General has relied on provisions in the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991, it is learnt. According to the Act, no Bill that involves expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India -  as the Jan Lokpal Bill does -  can be introduced in the Assembly without “the recommendation of the Lieutenant-Governor”.

Since the Jan Lokpal Bill’s provisions will “overlap” with those in the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, passed by Parliament, Parasaran has suggested “the law can never come into force” without the President’s assent.

Also, throwing a wrench in the AAP’s works is Article 239AA of the constitution which stipulates that the Delhi government cannot make laws with respect to the police, unless it is approved by the President.

As reported by The Indian Express, the draft Bill seeks to bring the Delhi Police within its ambit. Since Parasaran has not been provided a copy of the Bill, he has simply highlighted Parliament’s superior legislative power on this count.

While the AAP government has said it will push the Bill without seeking the approval of the Union government, the Delhi Congress has said it will not support a bill which is not constitutional, setting the stage for a major confrontation between them.

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