Govt works overtime to pass Jan Lokpal next month

Govt works overtime to pass Jan Lokpal next month

A flurry of activity was seen on Thursday in Delhi government’s law department over brining in the much awaited Jan Lokpal Bill as the 15-day deadline set by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on December 29 ends in the next couple of days. The Bill is now likely to be passed early next month. 

The chief minister announced that a committee was formed under Chief Secretary S K Srivastava to submit the draft of the Jan Lokpal Bill by January 15. Kejriwal said he was hopeful of brining the anti-corruption bill by month-end or the first week of February in Ramlila Ground.

Law Minister Somnath Bharti held a meeting with officials to discuss and give final touches to the ground work for the legislation that would give a solid legal backing to the ruling Aam Aadmi Party’s anti-corruption campaign.

 “We are working on it,” said Bharti, on being asked about the latest developments on the proposed Jan Lokpal Bill.

Apart from the anti-graft bill, the government was working to fill up 100 vacant posts of judges, said sources.

During the run-up to the December 4, 2012 Assembly polls, Kejriwal had promised to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill within 15 days of coming to power. 

After his party’s victory, Kejriwal indicated that the deadline may not be met and sought more time to give the city a strong legal platform to fight corruption. He also pointed to the legislative hurdles in bringing about a new legislation and gave the example of an Assembly rule which makes it mandatory for a state to seek the central government’s approval before introducing a new law.

A source in the Delhi government said corruption “is a big issue” for the chief minister but there were some irritants in executing the Janlokpal Bill plan.

The government may consider a revision of the provisions in the transaction of business rules of Delhi Assembly that talk about seeking approval from the central government while introducing some legislations, said an AAP leader.

“The government has to be pro-active in correcting the wrongs that are perceived as anti-people,” said a cabinet member.

After the government has delivered on three of its promises – free 700 litre water daily, cut in power bills by half and launch of an anti-corruption helpline – public expectations on the Janlokpal Bill have risen.

A Delhi Congress leader said the city already has a Lokayukta. “If the AAP government wants, it can give the institution more powers. There is no need to bring in a new Janlokpal Bill. It will amount to an attempt to reinvent the wheel.”   

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