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Home / Chandigarh / Legal experts differ on Punjab govt’s agriculture bills, as advocate general counts on ‘exceptions’

Legal experts differ on Punjab govt’s agriculture bills, as advocate general counts on ‘exceptions’

chandigarh Updated: Oct 21, 2020, 03:56 IST

Legal experts see remote chances of the Punjab government’s farm bills (passed in the assembly on Tuesday) becoming a reality even as state advocate general Atul Nanda cited instances of ‘exceptions’ in the country’s constitutional framework.

With the introduction of amendments by the Punjab assembly in the laws, a number of provisions in the legislations enacted by the Centre would stand negated provided the former get a nod from the governor and the President.

“Our view is that agriculture falls in the state list. The state has powers to enact laws on the same. But, if there is an overlap (as who has powers to legislate these bills), our enactment is on Article 254 (II) and we have requested the President to give assent,” said Nanda.

Article 254 (II) of the Constitution says a law made by the state with respect to one of the matters enumerated in the Concurrent List contains any provision repugnant to a law made by Parliament, the state’s legislation will prevail, if the President gives the nod.

Nanda said there have been laws in the country which run contrary to the provisions of Central enactments. “We have a provision of anticipatory bail in Punjab which Uttar Pradesh does not have. It was also a Centre’s enactment to be implemented across the country. But during the Emergency, it was done away with in Uttar Pradesh,” said Nanda adding that there are a score of other such examples.

But many legal experts were of the view that the bills are more of a ‘politico-legal’ move.

“If any law is made by the Central government, the state assembly has no jurisdiction to override it. If there is any confusion, the state can say no and it can give a representation to the Central government or the President. Thereafter, they can approach the Supreme Court. But how will the country run if the assembly overrides Parliament,” said former Haryana advocate general Mohan Jain, who was also additional solicitor general in the former PM Manmohan Singh’s government.

Other experts said since agriculture is a state subject, the Centre had no business enacting the laws.

Some said since it involved inter-state trade, the Centre was well within its right to enact the laws.

Assistant solicitor general Chetan Mittal said the state can’t interfere once the Centre has enacted a law. “If they have to (enact a law) to override any Central Act, power lies with the President. Otherwise, the Central legislation will prevail,” he added.

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