Wheres the aam aadmi in lawmaking

Written by Maneesh Chhibber | Updated: Feb 13 2014, 14:48pm hrs
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is a man in a hurry. A hurry to force the Congress to withdraw support to his minority government so that he can go to voters as a victim of the mainstream, corrupt political parties in the soon-to-be-announced general elections.

What else can explain his outburst against the decision of Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung to seek legal opinion from solicitor general Mohan Parasaran on whether the Aam Aadmi Party government has to seek the LGs prior approval before introducing the Delhi Lokpal Bill, 2014, in the Delhi Assembly

The war of words notwithstanding, the controversy also leads to the question if the issue at hand prior approval of the LG before tabling the bill in the assembly merits a controversy on such a scale. For a government that came to power on the promise of transparency and involvement of each individual in the process of lawmaking, the Kejriwal government is strangely not too keen to share with the public, including the media, the Lokpal Bill cleared by the cabinet on February 3. Neither the Delhi government website nor the AAP website has a copy of the bill. The aam aadmi doesnt seem important enough to share details with.

Strange, isnt it, when you recall the utterances of AAP leaders (then with India Against Corruption) during the logjam over the Janlokpal Bill versus the Centres Lokpal Bill Why cant every citizen be involved in lawmaking, especially since the law will affect each one of us IAC members including Kejriwal would say.

All the Delhi government did was issue a perfunctory and self-congratulatory press release on February 3 after the cabinet cleared the bill. It listed out some salient features of the bill but not all its clauses. So much so that it remains unclear if the four jurists who were asked to give their legal opinion on the issue of prior reference by the LG to the President of every legislative proposal, etc, were provided copies of the proposed law to enable them to draw a more conclusive and balanced view. Would the four jurists have tendered the same opinion had they been told beforehand that funds for the proposed anti-corruption ombudsman would come from the Consolidated Fund of the capital

Maneesh is Senior Editor (Legal Affairs) based in New Delhi