Responding to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s angry attack that questioned his loyalty to the constitution, Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung has defended himself strongly and said he was strictly going by the book on the controversial Jan Lokpal Bill proposed by the city government.
Jung said he had sought the Union law ministry’s opinion on Kejriwal’s claim that there was no need to seek the Centre’s approval before the Bill is tabled in the Assembly even though the predominant view backed the need for such approval.
He also urged Kejriwal to reconsider his decision to hold an Assembly session at the Indira Gandhi Indoor stadium to pass the Bill on grounds of security and law enforcement.
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Responding to this, the chief minister said if the Delhi Police is “incompetent” to provide security, then adequate paramilitary forces and other forces should be sought from the Central government for the job.
Kejriwal had slammed Jung Friday for seeking the opinion of the Solicitor General on the constitutionality of the Bill and said he should be loyal to the constitution and not to a party or the home ministry.
A statement from Jung’s office said Monday that the L-G had replied to Kejriwal on Friday itself, clarifying his “need to follow procedures as mandated under the constitution of India” with regard to the Jan Lokpal Bill.
Referring to rule 34 of the Transaction of Business of the Government of NCT of Delhi Rules, 1993, Jung highlighted in his reply that any such draft Bill “should have been sent to the lieutenant governor before placing it before the council of ministers and this was not done”, said the statement issued after a meeting between Jung and Kejriwal Monday.
“The question addressed to the SG was not on the content of the Jan Lokpal Bill, because, as indicated by the chief minister, the Bill had not been sent to the Raj Niwas. However, since the chief minister in his earlier letter dated 31.1.2014 had written to the L-G indicating the intent to introduce the Jan Lokpal Bill on the floor of the house and to have the issue discussed and passed in a special session at the Indira Gandhi stadium, the L-G had asked the Solicitor General to opine on the constitutional validity of introducing such a Bill,” the statement said.
Making clear the “extant legal reality” to Kejriwal, Jung said the “GNCTD is governed by the Government of NCT of Delhi Act, 1991 and the Transaction of Business of the Government of NCT of Delhi Rules, 1993”.
“Therefore, irrespective of whether the Delhi cabinet appreciated this or not, the position would remain the same unless challenged in appropriate forums. Section 22(3) of the Government of NCT of Delhi Act, 1991 is clear that the Bill proposed by government shall not be passed by the legislative Assembly unless the L-G has recommended the Bill to the Assembly for consideration”.
“Since the Central government has already enacted the Lokpal and the Lokayukta Act, 2013, and with many of the provisions overlapping with the proposed Jan Lokpal Bill of the Delhi government, the Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill will have to be placed by the lieutenant governor for purposes of consideration and the grant of assent by the President of India to avoid any repugnancy.”
It said the L-G had “highlighted the fact that the finance department, the law department, and the administrative reforms department of the Delhi government had highlighted the fact that the prior recommendation of the L-G was required since the Bill involved expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of the Capital”.
Kejriwal’s “council of ministers did not accept these comments”, it added.
On holding the Assembly session at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium, Jung said it is “imperative to keep in view the views of the police with regard to maintenance of security and law and order”.
“The Delhi Police is clear that it would not be possible to identify and segregate people coming to the venue who may have intention to disturb the Assembly. The inability to handle large crowds had become evident in the Janta Darbar and it would indeed be more difficult to control crowds within the vicinity of the Assembly. Therefore, in view of the law and order position and keeping in view the sanctity of the Assembly proceedings, he has requested the Hon’ble CM to reconsider this decision,” the statement said.
“However, despite the predominant view that there is need to send the proposed Bill for prior consent to the Union government through the L-G, the Hon’ble CM feels that there are opinions to the contrary and he has obtained the legal opinion on the same. To avoid any dispute in the matter and to obtain full clarity, the Hon’ble lieutenant governor has referred the matter to the Ministry of Law and Justice for a final opinion on the constitutional position.”
In his response on Monday, Kejriwal expressed surprise over the concerns of the Delhi Police on the government’s plan to hold the Assembly session in a stadium on February 16.
“It it is surprising to note that the police is expressing its inability to provide protection to the ministers and MLAs and in such a scenario if police cannot provide security in one stadium how can it be expected to keep the entire city safe?” said a statement from the CM’s office.
The CM pointed out that it is the duty of the Delhi Police to ensure the safety of the people and if the police commissioner considers himself incompetent in doing so, should he continue to be on his post?
“It is the decision of the Delhi cabinet to hold a special session of the Assembly in the open on February 16, in case the Delhi Police finds itself incompetent to provide security for it, then adequate paramilitary forces and other forces should be sought from the Central government for this,’’ the CM has written.
The CM has requested the L-G to help him take democracy beyond closed walls, stating that issues concerning the people must be debated in front of them and not behind closed doors.
Kejriwal also referred to his meeting with Jung on Monday on the Bill. “There is a dilemma in front of him. On one hand there is the constitution and on the other there is the home ministry’s orders. According to us, home minister’s order is wrong. I have told the L-G that the home ministry’s order is wrong. I have not taken oath of following the ministry’s order. We will protect the constitution,” Kejriwal said.
The CM also cited examples of other bills that were held up because of the same rules. Kejriwal said the Gurdwara Bill sent by the Delhi government had been pending with the home ministry for years. “Obviously they will not give approval. They will sit on the Bill. I am ready to make any sacrifice for fighting for the autonomy of Delhi Assembly and people,” Kejriwal said.