In a setback to the Punjab government and ruling Congress MLAs left out after Cabinet expansion and hoping to be accommodated as chairpersons of boards and corporations, Governor V P Singh Badnore has refused to give his assent to the ordinance approving amendments to the Punjab State Legislature (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1952.
The amendment would have paved the way for the MLAs, already drawing salary from the state exchequer, to hold posts of chairpersons of various boards and corporations without facing disqualification on the grounds of holding “offices of profit”.
While conveying his stand to the government, Badnore has stated that the amendment should be taken to the Vidhan Sabha first before being sent to him for his assent. Sources said Badnore has also made it known that if the government is in a hurry to amend the law, it should consider calling the Monsoon Session of the state Assembly. But since there is no convention of Monsoon Session in Punjab, the government could wait for the next session.
The Budget Session of Vidhan Sabha was held in last week of March. As per rules, the government has to hold the next session within six months of the previous session, i.e, before the last week of September.
However, given the urgency on the part of the state government in pushing through the amendments to quell the reported unrest among a section of MLAs, officials said it was being debated if the session could be called sooner.
The government was forced to propose the amendments after it realised that many corporations and boards could not allow MLAs to hold any additional charge as it amounted to office of profit. On June 27, the state Cabinet approved the ordinance proposing the amendments after which the file was sent to the Governor for his assent.
The amendments proposed to add seven categories of positions to the existing list which is out of the ambit of “office of profit”. These include any office held by a minister (including the CM), Minister of State or Deputy Minister (whether ex-officio or by name), the office of chairperson, vice-chairperson and deputy chairperson of the State Planning Board, leader or deputy leader of a recognised party in the Vidhan Sabha, the office of the chief whip, deputy chief whip in the Vidhan Sabha, office of chairperson or member of the syndicate, senate and executive committee of any university.