The first day of the much awaited special session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha turned out to be exceedingly brief as the business for the day was concluded only with obituary references and cursory agenda after modifying the agenda through a decision in the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) of the House. The Punjab government did not table before the Assembly any legislation or response to counter Centre’s farm laws on Monday.
The two-day special assembly session began at 11 am with obituary references, after which the House was adjourned for one hour. The House reassembled for nearly 15 minutes after this one-hour break before being adjourned till Tuesday.
In between these two adjournments, a BAC meeting was held with opposition leaders in attendance and it was decided that all other essential business of the House, including the Question Hour, will not be taken up on Monday. The government did not appear ready with the response that had to be passed by the House regarding the agriculture Acts passed by Parliament.
As the Speaker read out the BAC proceedings and the resolution, there was uproar from the opposition benches with vociferous protests being raised.
Leader of Opposition, Harpal Singh Cheema, said that this was a special session called by the government to discuss legislation which was to be brought against the agriculture laws that had been passed by the Centre.
“Where are the copies of the bills? When will we get them? When the session is over? You had assured in the previous session and so had the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Brahm Mohindra, that copies of the Bills will be given in advance to all members of the House,” said Cheema addressing Speaker Rana KP Singh.
Intervening on the issue, Finance Minister Manpreet Badal, said that copies of all government Bills would be distributed to the members before 5 pm Monday. He said that the issue of the Bill or any legislative action to be taken against the Centre’s Acts was a matter which had to receive the deepest considerations. “The matter has been taken up with constitutional experts by the state government,” said Manpreet.
SAD MLA Gurpartap Singh Wadala said that it was sad that the House was not taking up the issue of agriculture Acts in the proceedings of the House on Monday even as the entire state was looking at the Vidhan Sabha with great hopes.
“It is sad. The entire state of Punjab and the farmers in particular are looking towards this session and expecting the Assembly to take a decision. The BAC recommendation is a joke. The special legislation that has to be brought against the Centre’s agriculture laws should have been the first business of the House today to nullify the acts,” said Wadala.
The Speaker intervened at this point and said that the BAC has decided by consensus that the session will be held on Tuesday. Following this, the BAC resolution was passed in the House and it was adjourned.
Akali MLAs, led by Bikram Singh Majithia protested against this development while the AAP MLAs, led by Harpal Singh Cheema, sat down in the well of the House in protest demanding a copy of the Bill.
The Speaker later came and met the AAP MLAs and is learnt to have told them that while it was their right to protest but the House has to be sanitised and thereafter locked for safety as per Covid protocol. Late in the evening, AAP MLAs’ shifted their protest to the Members’ Lounge, but did not vacated the Vidhan Sabha complex.
Earlier, the legislative business of the House had been distributed with unstarred questions for Question Hour.
However, the papers with questions were taken away by the Vidhan Sabha staff after the BAC restricted the business of the day.
However, before the House was adjourned, a Congress MLA presented the second, seventh, eighth and ninth interim reports of the privileges committee regarding privilege issues raised against the SGPC president, Sukhpal Singh Khaira, Simarjit Singh Bains, Pawan Kumar Tinu and certain members of SAD.
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