AAP govt to amend draft Jan Lokpal Bill

Under fire for tabling a “diluted” Bill, the Delhi government is likely to amend the draft Janlokpal legislation and will introduce two changes in the appointment and removal clauses as per veteran social activist Anna Hazare’s suggestions.

“There will be a provision for one more High Court judge and one eminent person in the selection panel while the impeachment process for removal will begin only after a higher court monitored probe of any allegation against the Lokpal,” a senior government official said. These were among the points over which former AAP leader Prashant Bhushan has targeted Kejriwal saying he had “diluted” key provisions of the original draft, a product of the 2011 anti-graft movement.

But the government had dismissed the criticisms saying that Supreme Court had argued against inclusion of eminent persons in such positions during deliberations over NJAC and had argued that impeachment was the best possible removal clause. As per the draft Bill, the Chairperson or any member of the Janlokpal can be removed on the ground of proven misconduct or incapacity only by the Lieutenant Governor on the recommendation of the Assembly by a minimum two-third majority of the total membership.

It has provided for a four-member Selection Committee comprising the Chief Minister, Speaker, Leader of the Opposition and one Delhi High Court judge. “Annaji, thank you for your support and blessings. We will surely implement your suggestions,” the Chief Minister tweeted.

While welcoming the Bill, Anna has suggested that the Lokpal selection panel be of seven members, with two high court judges and one eminent person. Impeachment proceedings for removal should begin only after a Supreme Court go-ahead, he said. Anna has said he will step in if the NDA government at the Centre puts obstructions in the way of Janlokpal Bill, especially over the contentious clause which brings Union government functionaries under its ambit. “You go ahead, I will see if these provisions are opposed. They should not be opposed. It will be sad if obstacles are put on the way of a potentially good Lokpal. Centre has no intention for a corruption-free India,” Anna told reporters.

Delhi Congress slams BJP, AAP
Delhi Congress on Tuesday accused the ruling AAP and Opposition BJP of hindering the setting up of a strong anti-graft ombudsman in the national Capital by engaging in a war of words over the Jan Lokpal Bill issue. “AAP and BJP are fighting each other to divert the attention of the people as they do not want a strong Jan Lokpal,” Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken said at a press conference here. 

Questioning the ruling party’s intent on the Lokpal issue, he further charged that “AAP has come out with a ‘Majboor’ (helpless) Lokpal’ instead of a ‘Majboot (strong) Lokpal”. He said that Delhi Congress will bring out a white paper on the Jan Lokpal Bill tabled in the Assembly by the ruling party and hold a massive demonstration outside Vidhan Sabha on December 3, he said. Citing what he claimed were shortcomings in the Jan Lokpal Bill, Maken said: “The Bill, by vesting the power to appoint the Lokpal in the government, takes away the very purpose of appointing an independent Lokpal”. 
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