Jan Lokpal Bill tabled in Delhi Assembly
Jan Lokpal Bill tabled in Delhi Assembly
New Delhi,1 December: Nine months after storming to power, the AAP government on Monday introduced the Delhi Janlokpal Bill in the Assembly, which provides for an ombudsman with powers to act against any government functionary, including those of the Centre, in the national Capital through its own investigation wing. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who tabled the Bill, termed it as the most “effective and independent” in India’s history and said the proposed legislation brings under its ambit every act of corruption occurring within the boundaries of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. The key provisions of the Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill, 2015, tabled by the AAP Government in the State Assembly on Monday, are a total deviation from not only its own 2014 proposed Ombudsman law but also from the one being brought in by the Centre as well.
It provides ombudsman with powers to act against any Government functionary, including those of the Centre, in the national Capital through its own investigation wing. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has termed the Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill 2015 as the “strongest” anti-graft law in Independent India, an issue which has aided his rise to prominence in the country’s politics. “Congratulations Manish for presenting the strongest anti-corruption law of Independent India — Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill 2015. A historic day,” he tweeted. It was his second appearance in the ongoing Winter Session of the House that will continue till December 4. While the Central Bill makes it clear that the selection committee for the purposes of selection the chairperson and members of the Lokpal should first constitute a search committee of at least seven of standing and having special knowledge and expertise in matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance and finance, the Arvind Kejriwal’s proposed legislation has vested the powers of appointment of the anti-corruption body with the Delhi High Court Chief Justice, the CM himself, the Leader of the Opposition and Speaker of the State Assembly.janlok2
The proposed Bill had also made it clear that the seven member selection should have only two members of the political class — the CM and the Leader of the Opposition. The other members of the proposed Bill were two judges of the Delhi High Court, one person amongst previous chairpersons of Jan Lokpal, two members amongst retired judges of the Supreme Court or High Court, retired Chief of Army, Navy and Air Force and retired Secretaries/ Principal Secretaries, Vice Chancellors, members of the UPSC or CEC, CIC or CAG. The 2014 Bill said that the selection committee shall select out of a short list prepared by the search committee. It said the search committee shall consist of five members, who shall be persons of eminence and impeccable integrity, to be nominated by the selection committee. On the removal of the chairperson or any other member of the Jan Lokpal, the Central Bill said the Lokpal shall not enquire into any complaint made against the chairperson or any of its members. But it has specified that the chairperson or any member shall be removed from his office by order of the President on grounds of misbehaviour after the Supreme Court, on a reference being made to it by the President on a petition signed by at least 100 MPs has, on an enquiry held in accordance with the procedure prescribed in that behalf, reported that the chairperson or such member, as the case may be removed on such ground.
Even the 2014 Bill said the chairperson or any other member shall be removed by the President, after the High Court, on conducting an inquiry, makes a recommendation of removal on any of the grounds including that he has been guilty of misbehaviour or misconduct, or any act of corruption under the Act. It said the High Court may also direct the suspension of such chairman or member during the pendency of the proceedings. But the Kejriwal Government’s Bill states that the chairperson or any member shall be removed by the order of the L-G after an address by the State Assembly which is supported by a two-third majority. On the jurisdiction issue, the Central Bill has clearly defined that the Prime Minister and his Ministers and Group A, B, C and D officers of the Union Government will fall under its ambit. But the Kejriwal Government’s Bill has taken a confrontationist path with the Centre by extending its jurisdiction to investigate the corruption cases not only of the State administration but also of the Union Government. The AAP Government’s Bill has, however, not specified whether the Jan Lokpal can proceed against the CM and his Cabinet colleagues.