Khetrapal sworn in as Lokayukta

Ground prepared for Delhi Janlokpal

Justice Reva Khetrapal was sworn in as the new Lokayukta on Thursday by Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, in a way, preparing the ground for having a transitional Janlokpal as proposed in the new the Delhi Janlokpal Bill, 2015 that is awaiting Centre’s approval.

Justice Khetrapal’s swearing-in gives relevance to Section 32 of the Delhi Janlokpal Bill, 2015 that talks of the existing Lokaykta serving as the transitional Janlokpal before the Delhi Lokayukta and Uplokayukta Act 1995 gets repealed on the enactment of the Janlokpal law.

The fate of the Janlokpal Bill, however, is uncertain due to legal and procedural infirmities in its tabling and passing in the Assembly. Till the time the Janlokpal law becomes a reality, after Presidential assent, the office of the Lokayukta will play a key role in probing corruption allegations against the Chief Minister, cabinet ministers and bureaucrats
Justice Khetrapal will serve a five-year term in a post vacant since November 2013 when retired Justice Manmohan Sarin relinquished office. Her office is going to serve as an authority on considering anti-corruption allegations against the Chief Minister, other ministers and officials.


Justice Khetrapal’s swearing in lends substance to the Janlokpal Bill’s Section 32 that said: “Any person who has been appointed as Lokayukta before the coming into force of the Delhi Janlokpal Act,  2015 and who had been functioning as Lokayukta on the date of the coming into force of the Delhi Janlokpal Act, 2015, shall be deemed to have been appointed as the Chairman of the Janlokpal under this Act, and shall have all the powers, functions and responsibilities of Chairman of Janlokpal that have been laid down in this Act.”

Harsh tactics
The legislation was passed by the Assembly on December 4, with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal warning 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 to the president and PM if they do not pass the Janlokpal Bill,” he said, dispelling doubts of political rivals and expelled AAP leaders like Yogender Yadav and Prashant Bhusan that it was a weak bill which may never get enforced.

If at all the Janlokpal Bill gets enforced, chances of which are grim due to legal and procedural lapses in the manner the AAP government got it passed in the Assembly, Justice Khetrapal is sure to the be the first Janlokpal.

The Lokayukta has a five-year term and if the AAP government manages to get the Janlokpal Bill enacted in its four-and-half year tenure. Selected in October, Justice Khetrapal is sure to remain in the forefront of checking corruption among public servants in the next few years.

Experts said some of the thorny issues in the tabled Janlokpal Bill include a bid to insulate all Janlokpal decisions from judicial scrutiny as this may not be acceptable in a democracy.

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