New Delhi: A defiant Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal moved to tabled his anti-corruption Jan Lokpal Bill in the Delhi assembly today amid loud protests by the Congress and the BJP over a warning by Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung that the bill does not have his consent.
The Aam Aadmi Party government’s victory was short-lived, as opposition fury forced Speaker MS Dhir to take a vote in which the tabling of the bill was struck down.
The opposition had accused the Speaker of bias and demanded a no-confidence motion against him. The Speaker then took a vote, in which 42 lawmakers rejected the tabling of the bill and only 27 AAP members supported it.
Even after the Speaker declared the bill “not tabled”, Mr Kejriwal went on with legislative business. On Sunday, he had told NDTV that if the Jan Lokpal bill was blocked, he would quit instantly.
“The Chief Minister said he will resign if the bill is not introduced, now why isn’t he resigning?” taunted BJP’s Sahib Singh Chauhan.
The Chief Minister had earlier tried to table the Jan Lokpal bill as lawmakers of the Congress and the BJP kept protesting, waving copies of the Lieutenant Governor’s letter to the Speaker, which had made it clear that if the government tables the bill, it will be unconstitutional.
The letter, read out by the Speaker, asked the house, “not to consider the bill unless it is introduced with the recommendation of the Lieutenant Governor.”
The BJP charged the Speaker with failing to protect the Constitution by allowing AAP to table the bill. “You are the custodian of the house, not a member of any party. If you can’t follow the Constitution then we will get a new Speaker,” BJP leader Harsh Vardhan said.
“The bill can be tabled only after the consent of the house. For us, the tabling of the bill is null and void,” Arvinder Singh Lovely of the Congress told NDTV.
The Union Law Ministry had advised that the Lieutenant Governor, as a representative of the Centre, has the power to veto the bill if it is introduced or passed without his clearance, as bill has financial
implications and the Jan Lokpal will be partly funded by the Centre. The Centre has also asserted that Mr Kejriwal’s bill overlaps with the national Lokpal law enacted in December.
The AAP has accused the Congress and the BJP of colluding in a grand plan to block its Jan Lokpal Bill, which creates an ombudsman or “Lokpal” to investigate corrupt government officers.
On Thursday, the BJP and the Congress raised strident demands for Somnath Bharti’s sacking over his controversial raid last month at his constituency targeting African women he alleged were involved in a drugs and sex racket.