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Lt. Governor joins issue with AAP over Lokpal Bill

Posted on Feb 10 2014 | IANS

New Delhi, Feb 10 : Delhi Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung Monday joined issue with the AAP government over the Jan Lokpal Bill, making it cleat that the union government's approval was mandatory before the legislation was introduced in the assembly.

Jung also dashed the hopes of the AAP government of passing the bill in the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium, asking him to reconsider the decision because of law and order problems cited by Delhi Police.

However, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal hinted he will not budge from his stand, saying: "I have not taken oath on the home ministry's order. We will protect the constitution. Our soul does not allow us to follow an unconstitutional order."

Though Jung referred the matter to the union law and justice ministry for a final opinion, he said the predominant view was that there was a need to send the proposed bill for prior consent to the union government through him.

"To avoid any dispute in the matter and obtain full clarity, the Lt. Governor has referred the matter to the ministry on the constitutional position," a statement from Jung's office said.

Breaking his silence for the first time on the issue, Jung - whom the AAP had accused of being a Congress "agent" - disputed the arguments of the AAP government over its flagship anti-graft legislation which it wants to be introduced in the assembly without the UPA government's approval.

Jung said the draft of the Jan Lokpal bill should have been sent to him prior to placing it before the cabinet and "this was not done".

On Feb 3, the Delhi cabinet had cleared the draft of the Jan Lokpal Bill and decided to introduce it in the assembly - a measure which the Congress described as "unconstitutional" and even the BJP opposed.

The over one-month-old AAP government maintains that the union home ministry's order that prior permission was needed for introducing the bill was unconstitutional and had written to Jung on this. The lt. governor also accused the AAP government of ignoring the recommendations of its own departments over the issue.

"The finance department, the law department, and the administrative reforms department of the Delhi government had highlighted the fact that the prior recommendation of the LG was required since the bill involved expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of the capital. The council of ministers did not accept these comments," the LG's statement added.

The Congress, which props up the AAP government from outside, has reiterated it would not support the bill.

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