On the concluding day of the last assembly session of the current SAD-BJP dispensation, 21 bills were passed by the House without discussion in nearly an hour on Wednesday. The day saw unruly scenes of the worst kind.
The call attention notices on “expensive treatment of cancer disease” and “the loot by toll plazas on highways” did not get any attention during the day’s proceedings that witnessed the opposition Congress members throwing papers concerning the issues at the guarded Vidhan Sabha speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal.
As the question hour began, the entire Opposition was already in the well of the House, stalling the proceedings and forcing the speaker to declare a 15-minute adjournment.
The voice of leader of Opposition Charanjit Singh Channi, who had called for the attention of the health minister towards “the expensive treatment of cancer”, was lost in the din. Ajit Inder Singh Mofar of the Congress had sought reply of the PWD minister on “the loot by toll plazas on highways”, but that didn’t happen either.
“I suspend the question hour and the zero hour,” the speaker pronounced, and hurriedly read the bills one by one and declared them as passed.
The main bills comprised the Indian Stamp (Punjab 3rd Amendment) Bill that annulled 2% stamp duty on power of attorney deeds of immoveable properties; the Punjab Municipal (2ndand 3rd amendments) Bill for empowering the state government to frame a policy for local bodies to sell off or give on lease their immovable assets; the Punjab Laws (special provisions) Bill that will suspend any action against illegal colonies for next six months and the Punjab Bureau of Investment Promotion Bill.
Other bills that got the legislative nod included the Khalsa University Bill; Sri Guru Ram Das University of Health Sciences Bill; Amritsar Culture and Tourism Development Authority Bill for a statutory body to develop the areas around the heritage sites in Amritsar and Punjab Right to Service (Amendment) Bill to increase the posts of commissioners up to 10 from the existing four in the Right to Service Commission.
The House also amended the Punjab Legislature Members (Pension and Medical Facilities Regulation) Bill pertaining to annulment of pension of those MLAs who were disqualified as legislators even in the last six months of their term.
Breather for illegal colonies
The Punjab Laws (special provision) Bill-2016, now enacted as an Act, will “suspend all notices issued by any local authority for action against unauthorised colonies and no punitive action shall be taken in the next six months (from the day this law is enacted)”.
A similar time-bound law was enacted twice earlier, in 2013 and then in 2014 for a year each, to extend relief to the realtors facing heat for their illegal colonies.
Civic bodies can sell assets
As per the two amendments in The Punjab Municipal Corporation (2nd/3rd amendment) Bill, the state government shall be competent to frame an appropriate scheme, as a one-time measure, for leasing out or disposal of assets belonging to civic bodies.