Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit prorogued the Assembly session on Thursday, less than a week after the Supreme Court criticised him for sitting over Bills and a day after he got a communication from the government asking for prorogation.
Speaker Kultar Singh Sandhwan wrote to the governor on Wednesday with a request to prorogue the House session. A day later, the governor replied to the government stating that he had prorogued the session that was convened on October 20.
The issue has been hanging fire since March, when the Budget session was adjourned sine die but the government had not sent a communication to the governor for proroguing the House. Later, the government convened two special sessions without getting the governor’s approval and the latter called them patently illegal. He did not clear the Bills passed by the Assembly.
However, the Supreme Court recently held that the governor “should not play with fire” by sitting over Bills passed by the Assembly.
On Thursday, the governor gave his approval to table a money Bill, the Punjab Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (Amendment) Bill 2023. Earlier, he gave approval to two GST Bills when the government moved the apex court.
For tabling money Bills in the Assembly, the government has to seek the governor’s approval. The governor had denied approval not only to these three money Bills but also to five earlier Bills. Only one of the five was a money Bill.
The other Bills include the Punjab Police (Amendment) Bill 2023, meant to institute an independent mechanism for the selection and appointment of the director-general of police, and the Sikh Gurdwaras (Amendment) Bill 2023, aimed at freeing a particular family’s undue control over the right to telecast the sacred Gurbani.
The governor has also been sitting on the Punjab University Laws (Amendment) Bill 2023, a controversial piece of legislation that sought to remove him as chancellor of the state’s universities. He questioned the legal sanctity of the Bill tabled on June 20 in a special session. It proposes to vest the powers of the chancellor of state universities with the chief minister.