Jan Lokpal Bill gets Assembly nod

Jan Lokpal Bill gets Assembly nod

Jan Lokpal Bill gets Assembly nod

The Delhi Assembly passed a landmark Jan Lokpal Bill on Friday while Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal warned of adopting harsh tactics, if needed, to get the central government’s approval and taking the legislation to its logical conclusion.

“The entire House will go the President and the prime minister if they do not pass the Jan Lokpal Bill,” he said, dispelling doubts of political rivals and expelled AAP leaders like Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhusan that it was a weak bill which may never get enforced.

“Either they pass the bill passed by us or else we will be forced to resort to harsh tactics,” said an elated Kejriwal, whose government has now set the ball rolling for giving the city an ombudsman with sweeping powers to investigate and punish corruption by public servants – including the chief minister himself.

Amid thunderous applause in the Assembly, the chief minister warned: “If the Centre does not approve the bill then the BJP would end up meeting the same fate as the Congress. ”

Slogans of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ and ‘Vande Matram’ rent the air as jubilant AAP legislators congratulated Kejriwal for fulfilling the ruling party’s poll promise of enacting a tough anti-corruption.

Kejriwal announced that the government has incorporated the two key suggestions made by his mentor and activist Anna Hazare.

“I spoke to Anna in the morning and he told me that we should bring in an exemplary Jan Lokpal which is not there anywhere in the country,” said Kejriwal describing it as an emotional day marking the achievement of the anti-corruption movement’s target.

Striking a conciliatory tone, the chief minister said he would personally sit with the Leader of Opposition of BJP Vijender Gupta and dispel his doubts on the legislation.
“To those who are criticising it as a weak law, I want to say that lets at least make a beginning. Even if it is a weak law, lets pass it. At least get this weak law enforced in  BJP or Congress ruled-states,” he said.

The bill will now be sent to Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung who will forward it to President Pranab Mukherjee through the Union Home Ministry.

The fate of the passed bill is uncertain as some of the provisions may not pass judicial and constitutional scrutiny. The AAP government also did not seek Jung’s approval before tabling the bill – a precondition mandated by the Constitution. 

The legislation gives sweeping powers to Jan Lokpal for speedy trial and provides for punishment of up to life imprisonment to the corrupt fulfilled the Kejriwal government’s poll promise of providing a new legislation to fight corruption. The AAP government had to quit in 2014 over the issue of Jan Lokpal.

The bill was passed by the House after five amendments were proposed by the AAP government and retained the provisions giving the Lokpal powers to even probe acts of corruption against Union Ministers and central government officials working in the National Capital Territory of Delhi.

It is due to these provisions that the Kejriwal government is wary that the central government may try to create hurdles for the anti-corruption legislations.

As per the amendments made to the bill, initially tabled on November 30 in the Assembly, there will be a High Court judge and one eminent person in the selection panel apart from the four panellists mentioned in the earlier draft.

The impeachment process for removal will now begin only after a higher court monitored probe of any allegation against the Lokpal, according to the amendment.

The Opposition BJP registered its protest over the government rejected all its nine amendments and passing a Bill which was a “political document” and not a serious attempt to bring in a strong Jan Lokpal.

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