The budget session of the Haryana assembly that begins on Monday is going to be a noisy affair with two key issues — introduction of a bill to grant reservation to Jats and four other castes and Punjab’s move to give back to landowners the land acquired for the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal — expected to dominate the proceedings. The assembly session is likely to continue till March-end.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government is in the process of drafting a bill to grant 10% reservation to Jats, Jat Sikhs, Tyagis, Bishnois and Rors under the special backward class (SBC) or backward class-C. The bill that will be introduced in the state assembly is more or less a replica of the executive orders passed by the previous Congress regime to grant 10% SBC quota to the five castes on the recommendation of the Haryana Backward Classes Commission (HBCC).
With the Congress boycotting Saturday’s all-party meeting convened to discuss the proposed legislation and principal opposition group in the assembly Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), too, not lending immediate support to the government on the issue, the bill is likely to be debated in the House.
A large number of non-Jat MLAs are also expected to question the grant of quota to Jats, particularly in the wake of large scale violence and loss of lives in the recent quota agitation. Haryana Janhit Congress president and state legislator from Adampur Kuldeep Bishnoi, a non Jat, has favoured reservation on the basis of economic criterion.
With the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre not lending support to the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2014, being heard as a special reference by a five-member constitution bench of the Supreme Court, the Punjab council of ministers on March 11 decided to bring a bill in the ongoing session of the assembly for handing over the land acquired for the construction of the SYL canal to the landowners, thus further complicating the contentious issue.
Following an all-party meeting chaired by Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Saturday, a resolution was passed and handed over to Haryana governor Kaptan Singh Solanki, who also holds the charge of Punjab, requesting him to stop the Punjab government from this “unconstitutional and mischievous” act. The issue will resonate in the Haryana assembly and a blame game between the political parties is expected
What Governor can do
Haryana and Punjab governor Kaptan Singh Solanki, who has been requested by an all-party delegation to make all possible efforts to stop the passage of the bill, has certain options at his disposal. The governor has the option to sit on the bill by neither granting nor refusing assent to it, as the constitution has not fixed any time limit for it.
Article 200 of the constitution says that when a bill has been passed by a state legislative assembly, it shall be presented to the governor and the governor shall declare that either he assents to the bill or withholds assent there from or that he reserves the bill for the consideration of the President.
The governor can return the bill if it is not a money bill together with a message requesting that the state assembly should reconsider the bill or any specified provisions thereof and in particular will consider the desirability of introducing any such amendments as he may recommend in his message.
When a bill is so returned, the House shall reconsider the Bill accordingly and if the bill is passed again by the House with or without amendment and presented to the governor for assent, the Governor shall not withhold assent to it.
Under Article 254 (2), the governor can reserve for the consideration of the President any Bill on a subject enumerated in the concurrent list that is repugnant to an earlier or existing law made by Parliament. Land acquisition is a matter mentioned under the concurrent list.