Last Updated: July 24, 2023, 22:58 IST
The letter wars between Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann and governor Banwarilal Purohit continue unabated with the latter shooting off another missive. The governor says that the letters sent by him are “lying unattended” and that he has been receiving “various complaints of corruption”. The letter by Purohit to Mann on Monday evening seems to have been triggered by a statement by the CM a day earlier, in which he had stated “…it is unfortunate that the Governor didn’t know if the session was legal or illegal and hasn’t taken any legal opinion”.
Mann was referring to the letter sent to him by the governor last Monday, in which he had questioned the legality of four bills passed by the Punjab Vidhan Sabha on June 19-20, saying that the session itself was in breach of law and procedure.
“For your information, opinion has been taken from one of the leading constitutional expert. Crux of the opinion is attached for your knowledge, which clearly mentions that the house so summoned was patently illegal. Now nothing remains to be responded to your comments,” said the governor in the letter.
The legal opinion, a copy of which has also been sent to the CM, said that “though it is within the Speaker’s power to adjourn the meeting of House sine-die, but once the business of the meeting is over and nothing remains to be transacted, the meeting cannot be artificially kept alive. Once the business of the House, as specified in the List of Business to be transacted is over, the business of the meeting itself has come to an end.”
It further said that unless it is evident that some aspect specified on the list of business remained incomplete, there would survive no cause to permit the Speaker to adjourn the meeting, much less adjourn it sine die. It is clear from the letter of the secretary, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, dated June 14, that the business of the adjourned meeting summoned was not only connected with the Budget, but in fact, there existed no unfinished agenda which required the meeting, the governor wrote.
“The prejudice caused by not proroguing the House and by adjourning it sine-die can be seen from the effect it has had on the Bills passed. At least 4 bills which have no connection with the Budget have been passed. These include The Punjab Affiliated Colleges (Security of Service) Amendment Bill 2023, The Punjab Police (Amendment) Bill, 2023 and The Sikh Gurudwara (Amendment) Bill, 2023 and The Punjab Universities Laws (Amendment) Bill 2023. Had the House been prorogued after the Budget Session and had these Bills not been rushed through the adjourned meeting, they would have had to wait till the Monsoon session to come up before the House. This would have enabled the Bills to be properly studied and debated before they were enacted into laws. Thus, apart from the patent illegality that these Bills did not concern the Budget and could never be treated as an extension of the Budget Session, the greater flaw in the procedure was that the law was pushed through the legislature without public consultation or debate,” the letter said.
The governor said that though the CM calls these “love letters”, he would like to remind Mann that he is duty-bound to furnish the information sought by the governor.
“Not supplying of the information is a clear violation of the Article 167 of the Constitution. During the debate in the assembly you have taken pot-shots about the Governor, which is not liked by the people as the utterances by the Chief Minister are not befitting to the post. You should also keep in mind that I, as Governor, am a constitutional authority appointed by the President of India and entrusted with duty to ensure a just, fair and honest administration and has to see that the Governance is corruption free,” he wrote.