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An estimated 10-minute read
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In another interesting song and dance by the forever entertaining Aam Admi Party, recently the Chief Minister of the Govt. of the NCT of Delhi addressed a melodramatic letter to the Lt. Governor that would leave most Ekta Kapoor-esque writers lining up at the Secretariat for pointers. Have to give it to this man, he is the eternal entertainer and a truly unique strategist. Not a day goes by when we don't have something fascinating to discuss thanks to Mr Chief Minister or as I llike to call his sweeping style, BroomMan.

So, coming back to BroomMan, the entertainer (yes I do have Billy Joel's "The Entertainer" ringing in my head no matter how inappropriate it is to the gravity of the situation, heck, let's be light. Afterall, its only the Constitution of India at risk these days, let it be swept aside if a few people can go to jail and we can feel better about a lifetime of aiding/turning a blind eye to corruption :D ), recently addressed a rather fascinating letter to the Lt. Governor regarding certain rumors he had heard from his 'mortal enemy of the day' (sarcasm intended), the Media. The letter can be seen at the website of the NCT government here.

In his pseudo prosaic letter the ring master of this circus, of which most people are participants led to believe they are viewers, talks about hearing rumours from the media regarding a certain Jan Lokpall Bill to be introduced before the Legislative Assembly of the NCT of Delhi. Now the letter very clearly articulates that BroomMan thinks extremely highly of the Lt. Governor as a person but isn't quite sure if he may be playing into pressure politics. That the main cause of affront or hurt caused is due to alleged media reports allegedly stating that the Lt. Governor had allegedly sought the Solicitor General's opinion regarding the said bill and that allegedly the media reports alleged that the SG had alleged that such a bill IS unconstitutional and cannot be presented before the legislature. Now all allegations aside, two interesting points crop up from this, chiefly -

1) Whether the bill is unconstitutional in its alleged form?

2) Whether the same cannot be tabled before the legislature?

The first one is quite straight if one has a look at Article 239 AA and Section 24 of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991. The bill can only be unconstitutional if it conflicts with the central enactment. Just to clarify the point,if the state legislature enacts a Jan Lokpal Bill which is repugnant to the central enactment, principally the Lokpal & Lokayukta's Act, 2013, then the latter shall prevail and not the former. For those inclined towards understanding this debate, Article 239AA 3(c) reads as follows

"If any provision of a law made by the Legislative Assembly with respect to any matter is repugnant to any provision of a law made by Parliament with respect to that matter, whether passed before or after the law made by the Legislative Assembly, or of an earlier law, other than a law made by the Legislative Assembly, then, in either case, the law made by Parliament, or, as the case may be, such earlier law, shall prevail and the law made by the Legislative Assembly shall, to the extent of the repugnancy, be void: Provided that if any such law made by the Legislative Assembly has been reserved for the consideration of the President and has received his assent, such law shall prevail in the National Capital Territory: Provided further that nothing in this sub-clause shall prevent Parliament form enacting at any time any law with respect to the same matter including a law adding to, amending, varying or repealing the law so made by the Legislative Assembly."

Section 24 of the above Act reads as follows:

"24. When a Bill has been passed by the Legislative Assembly, it shall be presented to the Lieutenant Governor and the Lieutenant Governor shall declare either that he assents to the Bill or that he withholds assent therefrom or that he reserves the Bill for the consideration of the President :

Provided that the Lieutenant Governor may, as soon as possible after the presentation of the Bill to him for assent, return the Bill if it is not a Money Bill together with a message requesting that the Assembly will consider the Bill or any specified provisions thereof, and, in particular, will consider the desirability of introducing any such amendments as he may recommend in his message and, when a Bill is so returned, the Assembly will reconsider the Bill accordingly,  and if the Bill is passed again with or without amendment and presented to the Lieutenant Governor for assent, the Lieutenant Governor shall declare either that he assents to the Bill or that he reserves the Bill for the consideration of the President.


Now this fact has even been admitted by AAP. Look at the second last paragraph on this publication from their own website. But conveniently in this article they've side stepped the second part of the issue we are dealing with and gone on a two line rant against the Congress and BJP without setting out the law as they did for the first part of their agenda. One still wonders, if they know they can't pass the bill then why all this drama. Why bother with this and not focus on something they can actually achieve. I smell smoke.

It's the second item that really caught my eye. BroomMan alleges that the media alleges that the Solicitor General alleges that allegedly the bill cannot be tabled before the state legislator. Interestingly the bill is supposed to be tabled at a special session to be conducted at the Indira Gandhi Indoor stadium. Imagine the logistic, security and financial nightmare that will be!! Talk about knowing how to catch the public eye and using the taxpayers money efficiently. Bravo! Now I find this a little hard to digest as I have been following these media reports for the past few days and as far as I could figure out what the learned Solicitor General said, it seemed that he said such an enactment would need central govt. approval. Isn't that what Article 239 AA sets out? That if an NCT legislation is inconsistent with a central legislation it can be validated by presidential approval? But wait, BroomMan just changed the entire debate to something else. He said that NO SUCH BILL CAN BE TABLED BEFORE THE LEGISLATURE while allegedly the SG said THAT SUCH A BILL CANNOT BE ENACTED with the presidential approval caveat. Clever. They're both right. Of course such a bill can be tabled! Or so I ignorantly thought. There's a catch. There's a reasonable procedure. As per Rule 34 of the Transaction of Business of the Government of NCT of Delhi Rules, 1993 once the draft of a bill is approved by the Minister in charge it must be circulated to the other Ministers and a copy should be placed before the Lt. Governor and THEREAFTER the draft shall be placed before the Council of Ministers. In his letter BroomMan admits that the final draft was created after discussion with all departments, it was tabled before the Council and he is surprised that the Lt. Governor knows about the draft considering BroomMan never shared it with him. An admission of violation of Rule 34 by BroomMan? Seems so. Not to mention the requirement under Section 22 of the Act for the bill to be referred by the LG to the Assembly. Further, interestingly the Finance, Administrative Reform and the Law department mentioned it to BroomMan and his Cabinet that the LG's recommendation would be required but the cabinet brushed it aside. What's the rule of law when their lordships of the Cabinet have decided to do as they please. They're supreme. Idle things like the law don't mean anything to them. 

Now the LG also replied to this fascinating letter with grace. The response can be seen here. The LG clarified in a nutshell what I have ranted on for above but in brief and with such grace that an ignoramus like myself could only hope to flaunt someday.

You see, its obvious what would happen to the bill if it conflicts with a central legislation. It's obvious that the law has been bypassed by the AAP. Now BroomMan couldn't get an opinion to say he can derogate from the central legislation so he did the second best thing, cook up a ruckus. And it worked. In his humble little letter written to the LG BroomMan throws the weight of opinions and "upholding the constitution", what he has so efficiently said is that the LG really is a nice guy, but he is being pushed around by higher powers, oh and then there are the corrupt people to consider, and the special session in a crowded stadium, calling himself a young man barely the LG's son's age (really how appropriate is that in a letter from a CM to a Governor?) and how the LG should uphold the constitution. Blah blah blah.

And I still kept wondering why BroomMan would admit to violating the law and make it seem like he was being forced by political pressure and not the black letter law that he and his fellow politicians of the AAP have been flouting. And eureka! like a naked Archimedes running through the streets of Syracuse I think I found the answer. It was staring me in the face all along. The Special Session. Create a ruckus around this issue which had already caught up to them to keep in the highlight the pompus showdown at the stadium. Show your making a fit even if the ultimate agenda may be illegal. Who won't love a huge procession allegedly crucifying corruption when all it is in fact is an affront to the Constitution of India. You know, that book we all owe our freedom to. Try reading it someday. We owe a lot to it rather than those Mill & Boons, Shiva Trilogy and Chetan Bhagat's everyone seems to own instead.

What he intended was to show down the LG and that's what the media picked up. Immediately reports of BroomMan calling the LG a Congress puppet spread out. Here. And here. This too. Might as well read this and this as well.

And riddle me this, if according to the letter the Bill hasn't been tabled before the legislative assembly and for all intents and purposes is still a secret then its fascinating how the CM intends to hold a special session, introduce the bill and pass it the same day. That too in an indoor stadium. And what about parliamentary privileges. What about security. Havent the Janta Darbars been proof enough of populist showmanship not being fit for actual governance. When will he realise he is supposed to be running a responsible government and not a late night talk show or a mid-day drama.

Further, think of what will happen. Like that beaurocrat from "zaban Sambhal Ke" would have said "do batein hongi", only two things can happen. Either the LG will allow the special session or he wont.

If he doesnt, BroomMan gets to throw another tantrum, a dharna or two, a week or so of interesting publicity prior to LS polls and a good enough alibi for why he hasnt actually done anything in office. He will once again get to call the LG as a weak kid bullied by political majors and status quo is maintained. The bill will be tabled and possibly will not even land on the LG's table thereafter.

But, if the LG does allow the special session then imagine the pandemonium to follow. A bill otherwise unseen will be tabled before a legislative body assemlbed in an indoor stadium surrounded by political supporters from all parties concenred. Obviously the bil cannot be passed in a day. Let's assume all the MLA's are pro the bill and even then they will not be able pass it in a day. Even if they do, it ends up on the LG table, who will then refer it to the president and a new drama will start with BroomMan calling it a major victory. On the other hand, for all plausible reasons, the bill will not pass. The MLA's of the Congress and the BJP will oppose it. The AAP supporters will lash out, high drama will ensure at a public venue. I'm sur even god cant predict what will happen then. The result will be incredible poitical mileage for the AAP, a chance for them to show the Congress and BJP as opposed to anti-corruption reforms and all at the behest of a bill that the Legislative Assembly is not even competent to enact.

Ah BroomMan, your a true entertainer. All the hope I had from you just seems to drift away day by day. But only as a leader. As an entertainer, I love you more and more every day.


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