Passed by assembly, bill to expand Pepsu board hits technical hurdle

  • Pawan Sharma, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Sep 22, 2016 11:04 IST
Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal (HT File Photo)

The Punjab government’s move to park eight people in Pepsu Townships Development Board has hit a ‘technical snag’ even as the Akali Dal-BJP government passed the amendment bill in the recent Vidhan Sabha session.

The legal remembrancer (LR)— secretary (law) to government in the rank of district and sessions judge—informed the Vidhan Sabha secretariat and the state government on Wednesday that ‘The Pepsu Townships Development Board (Amendment) Bill-2016’ cannot be notified, government sources said.

This bill, the LR has pointed out, was not routed through him (law secretary) for vetting before it was sent to the Vidhan Sabha for converting it into a law.

By this modification in the Pepsu Townships Development Board Act-1954, the Parkash Singh Badal government wants to appoint a senior vice-chairman, a vice-chairman and six members.

At present, chief minister Badal is the chairman of the board. The bill was moved by revenue and rehabilitation minister Bikram Singh Majithia on September 9 in the assembly on the grounds that “board needs to be made more broad-based”.

Sources in the Vidhan Sabha secretariat confirmed having received a communication from the LR that this bill cannot be notified due to technical reasons. “This bill pertains to a minor amendment to create posts. We had obtained four-point advice from the LR before sending it to the cabinet for approval. Inherently, there is no illegality in the process…It’s a technical issue,” Karan Bir Singh Sidhu, additional chief secretary-cumfinancial commissioner (revenue), told Hindustan Times.

Sources say the LR has raised the issue of revenue department not following rules. The contention of the LR office is that after cabinet approved the bill draft, it has to go to the LR for the final approval (vetting). Otherwise, the bill cannot be notified even if passed in the assembly.

Financial commissioner (revenue) Sidhu has now directed his department to be “meticulous” in future, it is learnt.

Sources say the government was trying to amicably resolve the matter administratively with the LR so that the bill can be sent to the governor for assent and convert it into an Act.

Three months back, the cabinet of the poll-bound Badal government had decided to appoint senior vice-chairman and vicechairman in all the boards and corporations. At the root of this decision was an attempt to adjust more party workers even as it meant more burden on the exchequer.

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