Jan Lokpal Bill still stuck within Delhi govt, says BJP

Demand that Sisodia apologise for claiming that the Bill was with the Centre

First, there was no movement for seven months, then there was frenetic back-and-forth on a single day — Thursday — and now the file pertaining to the Jan Lokpal Bill is somewhere between two Delhi government departments, official records show.

Raising this issue in the Delhi Assembly on Friday, the Opposition BJP demanded an apology from Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who on Wednesday told the House that the Jan Lokpal Bill was with the Centre.

Citing the former AAP government’s decision to step down after 49 days in 2014 when its coalition partner, the Congress, did not support it in tabling the Bill, the Delhi BJP questioned the government’s delay in clearing the file now.

Tracking the file

Passed in December 2015, the AAP government’s legislation to bring in a strong anti-corruption watchdog was sent for final approval to the Centre, which sent it back in June 2016.

After some back and forth, the file was received by the Delhi government’s Administrative Reforms (AR) Department, where it had originated, on September 14, 2017, according to the file monitoring system of the Delhi government. Having been circulated within the State government, on October 30, 2017, the file landed at Law Minister Kailash Gahlot’s desk, where it stayed till May 25, 2018.

On May 26, The Hindu had reported that the file pertaining to the Bill was pending with Mr. Gahlot’s office, citing a May 21 reply to a Right to Information request filed by the paper.

While reporting on the story, The Hindu had reached out to Mr. Gahlot for comment on May 23, May 24 and May 25. Mr. Gahlot had said on May 25 that the file was sent by the Centre seeking certain clarifications, which were “unclear”.

Frenetic activity

The records in the file monitoring system, which were provided by Leader of Opposition Vijender Gupta, revealed that the file pertaining to the Bill went back and forth between Mr. Gahlot and the AR secretary four times on Thursday.

The file was sent by Mr. Gahlot to the AR secretary at 5.54 p.m. on Thursday, but the records say it was “Not Recd Physically [sic]” by the secretary.

“Was it not enough that such an important legislation did the rounds of different government departments for nine months? Now it is stuck again somewhere between the same departments. This shows how much, if at all, it figures on the government’s agenda,” Mr. Gupta said.

While the Opposition staged a walkout over the issue and then protested outside the House, Mr. Sisodia said the Centre had “woken up after 21 months” and asked whether the Delhi Assembly was competent to make such a law.

He added that if Delhi had been a full-fledged State, the Bill would have been implemented. The session of the Delhi Assembly, which started on Wednesday, had been called to discuss the demand for full statehood.

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Printable version | Jul 15, 2020 2:57:55 PM |

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