Kejriwal attacks Congress in sharp letter to Lt Governor over Jan Lokpal Bill
New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday escalated his confrontation with Congress by asking Lt Governor Najeeb Jung not to protect the interest of Congress and the Home Ministry, which were keen on stalling his government's Jan Lokpal bill.
"Now it is for you to decide whether you will be able to stand up to the pressure or not. You are a genuine person. But I humbly want to suggest to you that you had taken an oath to protect the Constitution and not the interest of any party or the Home Ministry," he said in a strongly-worded letter to Jung.
The letter of Kejriwal, who shares a good equation with Jung, was sharp in tone and came a day after reports emanated that the Lt Governor had sought Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran's opinion on Delhi government's Jan Lokpal bill.
The law officer had conveyed to him that it will be illegal if prior consent was not taken from the Centre.
It also came on a day when his party colleague Ashutosh called the Lt Governor a 'Congress agent'.
Kejriwal raised questions on how the Lt Governor had sought comments from Parasaran on the bill that was sent to him only Thursday evening and shortly later news leaked out about the law officer objecting to it.
"I was surprised when I heard on television last night about SG's opinion. On which bill you had sought SG's opinion as we had sent the draft to you only in the evening and on which bill he had given you opinion," he said.
Kejriwal told Jung that he knew that there was a 'lot of pressure' on him from Congress and the Home Ministry on the issue of Jan Lokapal bill and it would go up in the coming days to prevent the holding of an assembly session in a public venue for enactment of the bill.
"It is disturbing that privileged information between the govt and the Lt Governor is being leaked," he wrote in the letter. "I realise that you are under pressure from Home Ministry and I hope you will not allow spirit of constitution to die," Kejriwal wrote.
He also said that pressure would be mounted on him to ensure that the bill is not tabled in the assembly because 'they know that if the bill is passed, then many among them will go to jail'.
The Chief Minister said "they (Congress), through your office, would resort to selective leaks to defame me and my government".
On Parasaran's view that it was necessary to get approval from the Centre before tabling the Bill in the assembly, Kejriwal said nowhere in the Constitution is it written that the Centre's consent was required except on three issues which he did not elaborate.
"Experts say the bill does not need to be sent to Centre for approval. We sought the opinion of 4 constitutional experts. It is well within our rights to present the bill in the Assembly," he added.
The maverick chief minister targetted Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran saying 'How could SG comment on the Bill without even looking at it?'.
Kejriwal said he is 'putting letter in the public domain to end leaks'.
He also did not accept the view that the Jan Lokpal would be repugnant to the central law - the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act - saying if there was any such defect the law enacted by the assembly would anyhow go to the President for approval.
The Chief Minister described as 'unconstitutional' a Home Ministry order that says that Delhi government has to take permission from the Centre before enacting any law.
He maintained that Delhi Assembly's powers have been defined in the Constitution and questioned whether the Home Ministry can put reins on that power by issuing an order. "If the Delhi government has to take Centre's prior permission before enactment of any law then what was the need to hold elections," he questioned.
Kejriwal said if Delhi government needed to take prior permission from the Centre for tabling the bill, then it would be an attack on freedom of the Delhi Assembly. He said his government had taken opinion of noted lawyers Pinaki Mishra, K.N. Bhatt, P.B. Kapur and former Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana Court Mukul Mudgal and all of them were of the view that the Home Ministry order was 'unconstitutional'.
"After taking their views, the Delhi Cabinet on February 3 had passed a proposal recommending withdrawal of the Home Ministry directive and decided not to follow it. I wanted to meet you today and discuss the issues, but before that opinion of the Solicitor General was leaked to the media," he said.
Kejriwal said the draft of the Jan Lokpal bill was prepared by a high-level committee comprising the Chief Secretary, Law Secretary, Finance Secretary and lawyer Rahul Mehra and later Law Department had finalised the draft on which the Cabinet had a detailed discussion.
"Without going through it, how the Solicitor General called it unconstitutional," he asked.
The chief minister said he was making the letter public as he felt it necessary to reply to the issues raised through selective leaks. Earlier, addressing a rally at Burari, he criticised Congress, BJP and the Solicitor General.
"Solicitor General, BJP and Congress are saying that to implement Jan Lokpal bill, Delhi government needs to get the bill approved by the Centre. I want to ask if Centre has the power, then what was the need for MLAs, ministers and chief minister. Why elections were held in Delhi?
"Some people are also saying that Kejriwal is working against Constitution. I am not working against Constitution. Instead I am working to send corrupt persons to jail. BJP, Congress and certain power distribution companies and some corrupt mediapersons have joined hands to portray a bad image of AAP," he said.
Next: Won't allow Jan Lokpal Bill to be tabled in Assembly: Congress
Won't allow Jan Lokpal Bill to be tabled in Assembly: Congress
New Delhi: Delhi Congress on Friday said it will not allow the Jan Lokpal Bill to be tabled in Delhi Assembly unless the AAP government first obtained the necessary, constitutionally-mandated approval for it from the Centre.
"We have told Lt Governor Najeeb Jung that Congress MLAs support the Jan Lokpal Bill. If the Delhi government wants a stricter version (of the Bill), still we will support it.
"Our objection is that the provisions of the Constitution regarding the obtaining of prior approval from the Centre and LG are not being followed," said Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh Lovely.
A delegation of Delhi Congress members, led by Singh and CLP leader Haroon Yusuf, today met the LG over the issue and submitted a memorandum to him. Congress gives outside support to the Arvind Kejriwal led AAP government in Delhi.
Raising doubts as to the intentions of the AAP government regarding the Bill, Singh said, "We feel that this government doesn't want to translate the Jan Lokpal Bill into law. Had they seriously wanted the Bill to be passed in the Assembly, they would have completed the necessary formalities."
Congress has requested the LG to stop the AAP government from going forward with its unconstitutional methods, Singh said, adding that, "NCD Act, Section 9, empowers the LG to direct the Assembly and Delhi government against engaging in unconstitutional acts".
Congress later said in a release that the LG had assured that he would look into the issue. Meanwhile, asked if the party would consider withdrawing its support to the government, Singh said they want to give ample time to the AAP dispensation so that it may fulfil its promises.
"We gave support on the basis of what they had promised. We want to give them (AAP) ample time as the people voted for the party wishing that they stand by their promises," Singh said.