The wait for ruling party MLAs to get appointment as chairpersons of boards and corporations seems to getting longer with Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore not giving his assent to The Punjab State Legislature (Prevention of Disqualification) (Amendment) Bill, 2018 allowing MLAs to hold “offices of profit” and yet not disqualify them.
The Bill (for amending Punjab State Legislature (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1952), passed by Punjab Vidhan Sabha on August 28, was to pave way for the MLAs to hold posts of chairpersons of corporations and boards while drawing salary from the public exchequer as MLAs.
While Badnore has given his assent to other Bills passed by the Assembly, including Indian Penal Code (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2017 and The Code of Criminal Procedure (Punjab Amendment) Bill that seeks life imprisonment to those who commit sacrilege and Punjab Police (amendment) Bill, 2018, the Office of Profit Bill is still stuck.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh met the Governor on Wednesday evening and took up the matter. He is learnt to have told the Governor that a similar amendment was enacted by Lok Sabha, which had stood the scrutiny of law. He told the Governor that the state’s Bill was in line with the Centre’s Act and many other states had already enacted their own Act.
Earlier, the Governor had refused to give his assent to an ordinance on office of profit. He had returned the file to the government stating they should pass the Bill in the Assembly and then seek his assent.
The government had then waited for the monsoon session and brought the Bill on August 28. But even after almost a month, the Governor is yet to give his nod.
A senior official said the government would wait. If the assent is not given, then they would take the Bill to the Assembly yet again. “Once a Bill is passed by the Assembly twice, for want of Governor’s assent, the rules make it mandatory for him to give his assent then. Former President APJ Abdul Kalam too had refused his assent to a Bill in 2006 and it was sent by the then Central government again to him, that too without modification. But if the assent is not given, the MLAs will have to wait.”
The delay in assent is delaying the appointment of legislators, who have been waiting to be accommodated after they were ignored in the Cabinet expansion.
The amendment was needed as rules of many corporations and boards do not allow MLAs to hold any additional charge as it amounted to “office of profit.”