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Punjab’s 2-Day Assembly Session “Is Bound To Be Illegal”: Governor Office

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Punjab officials had earlier said the October 20-21 session would be an extension of the fourth session.


Days after the Bhagwant Mann government called a two-day sitting of the Punjab Assembly, the Governor’s Secretariat has said this session — being projected as an extension of the Budget session — is “bound to be illegal” and any business conducted during it “unlawful”.

However, notwithstanding the Governor’s Secretariat’s letter dated October 12 pointing to the alleged illegality involved, the Vidhan Sabha Secretariat on Friday announced the schedule of the session.

This is the second time this year that a row has erupted between the AAP government and the Raj Bhavan over the summoning of an assembly sitting and fresh developments are likely to escalate it further.

The Raj Bhavan reminded the assembly secretary on Thursday that a few months ago, the governor had termed a similar special sitting of the budget session in June “patently illegal”.

Punjab officials had earlier said the October 20-21 session would be an extension of the fourth session — the budget session in March.

The session is widely expected to discuss the recent Supreme Court directive on the construction of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal in Punjab, a project which the state is reluctant to complete, claiming that it has no water to spare for neighbouring Haryana.

According to the tentative schedule issued by the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Secretariat on Friday, the sitting will begin with obituary references on October 20 at 11 am, followed by legislative business to be taken up at 12 pm. The House will take up legislative business on October 21.

In its letter to the Punjab Assembly’s secretary, the Governor’s Secretariat said, “I have been instructed to draw your attention to the Hon’ble Governor’s letter dated July 24, 2023, which recorded Hon’ble Governor’s objection to a similar extended session styled as the ‘Special Session of the 4th (budget) of the 16th Punjab Vidhan Sabha’, called on June 12, for June 19 and 20.” “Based on legal advice and for reasons stated in the said letter, Hon’ble governor had pointed out that the calling of such a session was patently illegal, against the accepted procedures and the practice of the legislature, and against the provisions of the Constitution,” it stated.

In the present case also, calling a “special session of the fourth budget session of the 16th Punjab Vidhan Sabha”, suggesting that it is a continuance of the fourth session which was adjourned sine die on June 20, is “an attempt to extend the budget session which was summoned by the Hon’ble Governor for March 3, 2023, and which stood concluded on March 22 after the completion of the agenda for business of the said session”, the letter said.

“In view of the reasons stated in the letter dated July 24, any such extended session is bound to be illegal, and any business conducted during such sessions is unlawful, and ab initio void (having no legal effect)”, it added.

On Thursday, Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit told reporters in Amritsar that he was not asked about the two-day assembly session being called by the AAP government.

Officials argue that the session will be an extension of the budget session and there is no need to take the approval of the governor.

Since the fourth session has not been prorogued yet, approval of the governor to call a sitting of the assembly is not required and the assembly speaker is competent to convene it, official sources had said earlier.

The Mann-led Punjab government has locked horns with the Raj Bhavan on several issues in the past.

In July, Purohit said that once the business of the meeting is over and nothing remains to be transacted, the meeting cannot be artificially kept alive. His response had come after Mann urged him to sign the Sikh Gurdwaras (Amendment) Bill, 2023, aimed at ensuring a free-to-air telecast of ‘Gurbani’ from the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

It was one of the four bills passed during the June 19-20 session. The bills are still lying with the governor for his approval.

On the SYL issue, the opposition parties have turned the heat on the AAP government, accusing it of weakening Punjab’s stand in the Supreme Court by stating that the state government was “ready to build the canal but the opposition parties and farmers were not allowing it”.

The top court had on October 4 asked the Centre to survey the portion of land in Punjab that was allocated for the construction of part of the SYL canal and make an estimate of the extent of construction carried out there.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by String Reveals staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)