After a week-long confrontation over the summoning of a Vidhan Sabha session, Punjab Governor Banwarlilal Purohit Sunday gave his approval to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government to convene the session on September 27.
The approval came hours after the government had written a protest letter to the Governor stating that the “demand for agenda/details” was “unknown to law, beyond the Constitution, contrary to precedent, practice and convention and hence legally untenable.”
The row between the Raj Bhavan and the AAP government had begun after the Governor withdrew an order summoning a special sitting of the Vidhan Sabha called by Mann to table a confidence motion.
Earlier, Governor Purohit had sought details of the business the government wanted to take up in the Vidhan Sabha drawing a sharp reaction from Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann who said it was “too much”. Before that, Governor Purohit had schooled Mann about the rules of Vidhan Sabha and told him his advisers were not briefing him properly.
The Governor had written a letter to Mann saying, “After reading your statements in today’s newspapers, it appears to me that perhaps you are very angry with me. I think your legal advisors are not briefing you adequately. Perhaps your opinion about me will definitely change after reading the provisions of Articles 167 and 168 of the Constitution, which I’m quoting for your ready reference.”
Quoting the Articles, he had said that according to “Article 167, the duties of the Chief Minister as respects the furnishing of information to the Governor etc- It shall be the duty of the Chief Minister of each State: (a) To communicate to the Governor of the State all decisions of the council of Ministers relating to the administration of the affairs of the State and proposals for legislation; (b) To furnish such information relating to the administration of the affairs of the State and proposals for legislation as the Governor may call for; and (c)If the Governor so requires, to submit for the consideration of the Council of Ministers any matter on which a decision has been taken by a Minister but which has not been considered by the council. “
Quoting from Article 168, he had said, “Constitution of the Legislatures in States-(1) For every State there shall be a legislature which shall consist of the Governor, and a) In states of ……two houses; b) In other states, one house.”
The Governor was referring to Mann’s statement on Friday that said, “Governor/President consent before any session of Legislature is a formality. In 75 years, no President/Governor ever asked for the list of Legislative business before calling a session. Legislative business is decided by BAC and Speaker. Next, the Governor will ask for all speeches to be approved by him. It’s too much.”
Bhagwant Mann’s statement came after the Governor asked the government about the details of legislative business it was planning to undertake in the Vidhan Sabha session.
The letter by the government had stated, “The demand for agenda and details, while it is being met herein without prejudice, cannot be a condition precedent for calling/convening of a session nor delay in the convening of a session, once decided upon by the Council of Ministers, the decision of the latter being binding on the Hon’ble Governor. Any contrary approach would be unknown to law, beyond the Constitution, contrary to precedent, practice and convention and hence legally untenable.”
It added, “Nevertheless, the Government proposes to take up Legislative/Government Business which inter alia includes burning issues of GST, stubble burning, power scenario etc. for consideration of the state legislature. In addition, business on different issues as per notices received from the Hon’ble Members may also be taken up during the Session as per relevant provisions of the “Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha”.
It further added, “It is, therefore, requested that the orders of the Hon’ble Governor may kindly be obtained for the summoning of the State Assembly on September 27, 2022, as per the decision of the Government, as conveyed vide this office memo no. 1/3/2017-3PA/469, dated 22.09.2022.”
The reply of the government did not mention it wanted to table the confidence motion.