The Delhi government on Saturday sought to quell the controversy over the issue of legal experts supporting it on the Jan Lokpal bill, saying they were consulted only on the validity of rules relating to Assembly’s powers and not on the legislation per say.
“Nowhere in his letter to (the Lt. Governor) did the Chief Minister state that the government had sought the opinion on Jan Lokpal bill from the experts.
“The entire reference was to the Transaction of Business Rules (TBR) for the Delhi Assembly, 1993, prepared by the Union Home Ministry and sent to the Delhi government with the direction to implement them,” said a statement released by the Delhi government.
The government’s clarification came against the backdrop of some news reports which stated that Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had sought the opinion of three lawyers and a former judge on the bill.
“Delhi government had sought the legal opinion on whether Rule 55 (1) of the TBR which makes it mandatory for the Delhi government to send any bill to the central government before its introduction in the state assembly is constitutional,” the statement read.
“It has been wrongly reported that the CM sought the opinion of constitutional experts on the Jan Lokpal bill,” it added.
Citing relevant section of Mr. Kejriwal’s letter to Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung, the press release stated, “Just like you (Mr. Jung) had sought the opinion of the Solicitor-General, the Delhi government has also sought an opinion from three noted lawyers and a former chief justice. All these four experts are of the opinion that the Union Home Ministry order is unconstitutional.”
“Their names are Justice Mukul Mudgal, P.V. Kapoor, K.N. Bhatt and Pinaki Mishra. After getting their opinion, the Delhi Cabinet in its meeting on February 3, 2014 passed a resolution recommending that the Home Ministry should withdraw its order and till such time decided not to accept it,” the statement said.
The government’s statement was corroborated by former Additional Solicitor-General Mr. Bhatt who said he was not consulted on the Jan Lokpal bill but only on the validity of some rules.
“I was not consulted on question of the Jan Lokapal bill, but on validity of certain rules. As far as I am concerned, I was asked about the validity of rule 55 of the Transaction of Business rules,” Mr. Bhatt said.
“I gave them an opinion that that rule may be invalid. But a remedy is not to calls names to Lt Governor. The remedy is to go to a court of law and challenge validity of rules,” he said.
To a query on future of the Jan Lokpal bill, Mr. Bhatt said, “I don’t see a great future for Jan Lokpal bill. No body can prevent it from debating it in Delhi Assembly and then Congress also supports it and pass it.
“Then the logical step is to present it to Lt. Governor for his approval. He may send it to the President. He got that option. It will take quite some time and if it at all has a passage.
“I doubt that whether it (Jan Lokpal bill) can at all see the light of the day. AAP can then legitimately say they made an effort, but could not succeed,” Mr. Bhatt said.
Mr. Mishra, a well-known lawyer, said that he was not consulted about the Jan Lokpal bill and so he cannot be quoted on that.
Mr. Kejriwal had on Friday asked Mr. Jung not to protect the interest of Congress and the Home Ministry, which were keen on stalling his government’s Jan Lokpal bill.