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Monday, April 12, 2021

Explained: How Haryana put its name back in laws inherited from undivided Punjab

There had been a feeling among a section of people and legislators in Haryana that it was high time the state cut the umbilical cord, and do away with the name of Punjab from these laws.

Written by Sukhbir Siwach , Edited by Explained Desk | Chandigarh |
Updated: March 20, 2021 2:26:38 pm
According to Haryana Assembly Speaker Gian Chand Gupta, the exercise of doing away with Punjab’s name from Haryana laws ought to have been undertaken within two years of the inception of the state. (File)

Fifty-four years after Haryana was carved out of (undivided) Punjab in 1966, the state Assembly on Thursday (March 18) passed a Bill to remove the word ‘Punjab’ from 154 laws that have been applicable in the state for all these years.

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Background

Haryana was part of undivided Punjab until November 1,1966. But even after the new state was created, laws named after Punjab, such as The Punjab Labour Welfare Fund Act, 1965, or The Punjab Homoeopathic Practitioners Act, 1965, continued to be applicable to Haryana.

There had been a feeling among a section of people and legislators in Haryana that it was high time the state cut the umbilical cord, and do away with the name of Punjab from these laws.

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Why now?

According to Haryana Assembly Speaker Gian Chand Gupta, the exercise of doing away with Punjab’s name from Haryana laws ought to have been undertaken within two years of the inception of the state.

“I don’t know why nobody took this initiative earlier,” said Gupta, a two-time BJP MLA from Panchkula, and a former Mayor of the Union Territory Chandigarh.

“I used to feel that we are working in Haryana, we are legislators of Haryana, but we are being governed by the laws of Punjab. This prompted us to take the initiative to do away with the name of Punjab from our laws,” he said.

The process

The Haryana Assembly Speaker set up a committee comprising the Chief Secretary and the state’s top legal officer, Legal Remembrancer, to examine the matter in September 2020. After receiving the report, the government decided to replace ‘Punjab’ with Haryana in the title of 154 Acts.

The number of such laws was earlier pegged at 230, but according to the Speaker, the name had subsequently been changed in all these laws except 154.

Haryana Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kanwar Pal Gujjar tabled The Haryana Short Titles Amendment Bill, 2021 in the Assembly on Monday (March 15). In a written statement, Gujjar said, “The state of Haryana came into existence after a long-drawn struggle of people of Haryana. The people of Haryana have always taken immense pride in their unique identity, both cultural and linguistic. However, despite lapse of more than five decades, the laws applicable to the state of Haryana…still carry word “Punjab” and “East Punjab” in the laws applicable to the state of Haryana, in a cursory reading, create confusion amongst masses at root level with regard to application of such laws in the state of Haryana…

“Therefore, for better understanding of the applicability of the laws in the State of Haryana which instead carry the word ‘Punjab’ and ‘East Punjab’ in the short title, there is pressing need that ‘Punjab Acts’ and ‘East Punjab Acts’ should be amended to ‘Haryana Acts’.”

This, according to Gujjar, “will eliminate confusion and further instil a sense of pride and self-determination amongst people of Haryana that laws applicable to the State of Haryana are known by the name of their state. It will be a tribute to the struggle undertaken by the people of the state for establishing their separate state and identity”.

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