Slamming Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung for seeking the opinion of the Solicitor General on the constitutionality of the Jan Lokpal Bill proposed by his government, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal hit back Friday, reminding him that “you have taken an oath to protect the constitution, and not to be loyal to a party or the home ministry”.
Kejriwal’s attack on Jung in a strongly-worded letter came a day after the L-G sought Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran’s opinion on the constitutionality of the AAP government’s move to table the controversial bill without getting it examined by the Centre as mandated.
“I know you are under tremendous pressure from the Congress and the Union home ministry. I know they will pressure you more in the days to come… because they know that once this Bill is passed, many among them will go to jail. I know that these people will resort to selective leaks through your office to defame me and my government,” he wrote, adding “it is for you to decide whether you will be able to stand up to the pressure or not.”
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“You are a good man. I am younger to you, almost your son’s age. But I would still like to give you a small advice. You have taken an oath to protect the constitution, and not to be loyal to a party or the home ministry. Don’t let the Constitution die,” he wrote.
Kejriwal’s government has said it will enact the Bill at a public venue next week. The Congress, which props up his minority government, has said it won’t support any Bill that is unconstitutional.
But the AAP government has declared it will go ahead and enact the law. It plans to introduce the Bill in the Delhi Assembly on February 13 and discuss it for two days before shifting proceedings to a stadium for passing the Bill.
Responding to Jung’s request for his opinion, Parasaran, it is learnt, has told him that the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, passed last year by Parliament, is in force and a Lokpal Bill in Delhi will be repugnant to the Central law and will require the President’s approval.
Parasaran, it is learnt, also told Jung that presenting the bill in the Assembly without the approval of the President would be unconstitutional.
But Kejriwal questioned the L-G’s urgency to get the SG’s opinion before the Bill was formally shared with him.
“I was shocked to watch this news on TV channels yesterday because a copy of the Bill was sent to you just yesterday evening. which Bill was it that you sought the SG’s opinion? You could have discussed the matter with me and I could have provided you a copy of the Bill and explained everything. But the SG’s response was directly shared with the media,” Kejriwal wrote.
On Parasaran’s view that it was necessary to get the Centre’s approval before tabling the Bill in the Assembly, Kejriwal said it was not written in the Constitution that the Centre’s consent is needed to pass a law, barring only “three issues” on which he did not elaborate.
The chief minister, in turn, described as “unconstitutional” a home ministry order that made it mandatory for the Delhi government to seek the Centre’s nod before enacting any law.
“When the Delhi Assembly’s powers have been defined in the Constitution, the home ministry’s order to curb that power is unconstitutional. What is the need to conduct elections to the Assembly if the Delhi government has to take Centre’s permission before enactment of any law,” he questioned.
Addressing a rally of auto drivers earlier in the day, Kejriwal said: “Since yesterday, TV channels are saying our Jan Lokpal Bill is unconstitutional. I want to ask whether sending corrupt people to prison is unconstitutional? The BJP, the Congress, the SG and the L-G are trying to say that corrupt people should not be sent to prison.
“To them leaders like A Raja and Suresh Kalmadi are not perceived as unconstitutional. They are saying that the Delhi Assembly cannot pass the Bill. Then why did you even elect us? The Central government is acting like angrezon ki sarkar (British rulers). Corrupt companies and corrupt media houses have come together to defame the AAP government,” he said.
Separately, TV journalist-turned-AAP leader Ashutosh called Jung a “Congress agent”. Demanding a probe into what he said was the “leak” of the communication from the Solicitor General to the L-G, Ashutosh said: “Anything that has gone to the L-G, it has become public through the media. Najeeb Jung is acting like an agent of the Congress and he is trying to malign the image of the Aam Aadmi Party government.”