Updated: October 20, 2021 5:03:03 am
A day after she submitted a written reply stating that the Goa Bhumiputra Adhikarini Bill, 2021 had been referred to the governor for his assent, Revenue Minister Jennifer Monserrate clarified in the Goa Assembly on Tuesday that the Bill was with the state law department.
Goa Forward Party (GFP) MLA Vijai Sardesai brought up the issue on the last day of the two-day session of the Goa Assembly on Tuesday. He said that Monserrate’s reply was in conflict with what was discussed in the Business Advisory Committee before the two-day session began on Monday. “The government needs to give a clear reply whether it is with the law department and will be sent to the governor for assent,” Sardesai said.
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said, “As said, it is with the law department and will not be sent for (Governor’s) assent.”
In reply to a question raised by Sardesai on Monday, Monserrate had replied, “The Bill has been referred to the Hon’ble Governor through the Law Department for his assent and the same is under process.” To further questions on whether the government proposed to bring about any amendments to the Bill, the minister had said: “Does not arise…”
Sardesai said: “At the Business Advisory Committee meeting before the session, the minister for legislative affairs had made an unequivocal statement that the government had decided to allow the Bill to lapse.”
Govt to allow Bill to lapse
“This is a bill that the government passed at 2.30 am in spite of objections from the bureaucracy. This is the Bill the CM passed in haste giving scant respect to public sentiment. The public outrage made him reverse the decision. This is a government in reverse gear,” Sardesai said.
The Bill that was passed in the Assembly on July 30 had since been at the centre of a political storm. The Bill was aimed at giving the status of ‘Bhumiputra’ to a person residing in Goa for at least 30 years and to enable him or her to stake claim to ownership of their house of up to 250 sq m built before April 1, 2019.
However, four days after it was passed, CM Sawant had said that the Bill would be renamed Goa Bhumi Adhikarini Bill, after the BJP’s ST Morcha took exception to the name and said that it had hurt the sentiments of the state’s tribal population. Sawant had then also called for suggestions and objections to the Bill from the public on the government’s online portal.
An RTI application filed by the Indian Express had revealed that a day before the passing of the Bill, Monserrate had raised eight issues in the Bill. In the four days prior to passing of the Bill, government departments including revenue, law and finance had also raised red-flags.
Opposition parties including the Congress, Goa Forward Party, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and independent MLAs had met Governor P S Sreedharan Pillai days after the last Assembly session concluded on July 30, urging him not to grant his assent to the Bhumiputra Bill and ten other Bills that were passed “in a haste” by the government. Opposition parties alleged that the Bill had under the garb of giving ownership rights to ‘bhumiputras’ sought to regularise unauthorised constructions occupied by migrants and not ‘original Goans’.
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