New Delhi: The decision by Punjab Governor to withdraw an order for a special session of the State Assembly, is a “violation of the constitution” according to PDT Achary, former secretary general of the Lok Sabha. The government, he said, is free and has absolute power while “The governor has no power to decide, and is the constitutional head and has no executive power.”
The session called for a confidence motion on September 22, was cancelled by the Governor Banwarilal Purohit, a day before after he “examined” and sought the “legal opinion” from Satya Pal Jain, Additional Solicitor general of India.” Jain, the letter says, said there was “no specific provision regarding summoning of the Assembly for considering the ‘confidence motion’ only, in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha rules of procedure and conduct of business.”
Achary calls the advice to the governor by the Addl. Solicitor general as very surprising. Adding “Session is not called on the basis of any law, there’s no law, it is the constitution which provides for it… the governor can act only in the aid and advice of the council of ministers. Without that the governor cannot act.”
Going on further, he says“There’s something wrong with the governors reply. Because the session is called on the advice of the government. It is actually the government which decides to call a session or not…The governor has no role except to sign the summons. Under Article 174 the session can be called from time to time.”
The Punjab government cabinet had approved the recommendation for summoning of special session of the House, to be sent to the Governor under Article 174 (1) of the Constitution. This section says that “the Governor shall from time to time summon the House or each House of the Legislature of the State to meet at such time and place as he thinks fit, but six months shall not intervene between its last sitting in one session and the date appointed for its first sitting in the next session”.
The decision by the Punjab governor to avert this, was addressed to the Secretary of Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Surinder Pal, mentioning leader of opposition, Congress’ Partap Singh Bajwa, and MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) State President, MLA Ashwani Sharma as being against the holding of the special session. They had stated “there was no legal provision to convene a Special session to move ‘confidence motion’ only in favour of the state government.”
Interestingly, the Aam Aadmi Party -led Punjab government which has accused the BJP of trying to topple its government through “Operation Lotus”, had claimed the same in Delhi where it leads the Union Territory. On September 1, it had successfully carried out a confidence motion tabled by the Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal. There were 58 votes in support of the motion and no vote against the motion. BJP MLAs had abstained from the proceedings in the Assembly where 62 are AAP MLAs and eight are BJPs and nil from the Congress.
The AAP in the last week of August had said that four of its Delhi MLAs, namely Ajay Dutt, Sanjeev Jha, Somnath Bharati and Kuldeep Kumar, had been approached by the BJP to switch sides – and an offer of Rs 20 crore each – or else, face “false cases, the CBI and the ED”.
In Punjab, the AAP had accused BJP leaders, and agents of approaching at least 10 MLAs and offering Rs 25 crores each to quit and join the BJP. Now it looks like AAP Punjab has accepted the defeat to call for a trust vote, with the State cabinet deciding to summon the Assembly on September 27 for other matters. Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has said issues like electricity and stubble burning would be discussed in the Assembly session.