The ongoing confrontation between Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit and the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) doesn’t seem to give any sign of mellowing down. On September 24, Mr. Purohit hit back at Mr. Mann, saying he seems ‘too much angry” and asserted that Chief Minister’s legal advisors were not briefing him adequately.
Mr. Purohit had on September 23, sought details of the legislative business to be taken up in the proposed assembly session on September 27, by the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Terming the Governor’s demand as ‘too much’, Mr. Mann stated that Governor or President consent before any session of legislature is a formality. “In 75 years, no President – Governor ever asked list of Legislative business before calling session. Legislative business is decided by Business Advisory Committee (BAC) and Speaker. Next Governor will ask all speeches also to be approved by him. It’s too much,” said Mr. Mann in a tweet.
Responding to Mr. Mann’s remark, Mr. Purohit has written to the Chief Minister, saying that “...it appears to me that perhaps you are ‘too much’ angry with me. I think your legal advisors are not briefing you adequately. Perhaps your (CM’s) opinion about me will definitely change after reading the provisions of Article 167 and 168 of the Constitution, which I’m quoting for your ready reference,” he wrote.
In the letter, Mr. Purohit mentions that according to Article 167: Duties of the Chief Minister as respects the furnishing of information to the Governor etc, it shall be the duty of the Chief Minister of each State - (a) To communicate to the Governor of the State all decisions of the council of Ministers relating to the administration of the affairs of the State and proposals for legislation; (b) To furnish such information relating to the administration of the affairs of the State and proposals for legislation as the Governor may call for; and (c) If the Governor so requires, to submit for the consideration of the council of Ministers any matter on which a decision has been taken by a Minister but which has not been considered by the council.
Also, according to Article 168: Constitution of the Legislatures in States - for every State there shall be a legislature which shall consist of the Governor, the letter added.
Replying to the Governor, the State government conveyed that the demand for agenda, while it is being met herein without prejudice, can’t be a condition precedent for convening of a session nor delay in convening of a session, once decided upon by the Council of Ministers, the decision of the latter being binding on the Governor. The government said it proposes to take up legislative/government business which inter alia includes burning issues of GST, stubble burning, power scenario, etc. for consideration of the State legislature.
The ruling AAP had announced to convene the special session of the Assembly on September 22 to bring a ‘confidence motion’, following the party’s allegation that attempts were being made to topple its government in Punjab by offering bribes to its legislators by agents of the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP). The Governor, however, withdrew the order of summoning a special session of the State Assembly on September 22, citing the “absence of specific rules” regarding summoning of the Assembly for the ‘confidence motion’ only.
Following this, the Chief Minister announced that the state government would summon the session of the State Assembly on September 27 to discuss ‘various issues pertaining to the state’. Mr. Purohit then sought details of the legislative business to be taken up in the proposed assembly session on September 27, triggering a face-off between the Governor and the AAP.
Punjab Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema and AAP’s chief spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj condemned Governor’s move on seeking details of legislative business, accusing him of infringing upon State’s democratic structure.