Angry with Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung for seeking the opinion of the Solicitor General of India on the constitutionality of the Jan Lokpal Bill proposed by his government, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Friday accused him of being partisan and under pressure from the Congress.
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 seeking 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,” Kejriwal wrote.
In his “humble” advice, Kejriwal dared Jung to be loyal to the constitution rather than to a political party.
“It is for you to decide whether you will be able to stand up to the pressure or not…But you took oath to protect the constitution of the country, and not the interests of any party or the home ministry.”
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 the Indira Gandhi 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.
Accusing the L-G’s office of leaking communication between him and the SG, Kejriwal alleged there was “tremendous pressure” on Jung from the Congress and the home ministry and warned that the pressure would only increase in the days to come to prevent the Assembly session from being held at the Indira Gandhi Stadium to enact the Bill.
“Because they (Congress) know that if this Bill is passed, many of them will go to jail. I know that those people would resort to selective leaks through your office to defame me and my government,” 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 sarkaar (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.”