Deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala during the monsoon session of the Haryana assembly on Wednesday.(HT Photo)
Deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala during the monsoon session of the Haryana assembly on Wednesday.(HT Photo)

Private job quota bill: Cabinet’s nod must to withdraw ordinance, says Haryana government

Decision not to table a bill when an ordinance is reserved for President’s consideration is a step in consonance with the highest traditions of constitutional propriety, says former advocate general Ashok Aggarwal
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By Hitender Rao, Chandigarh
UPDATED ON AUG 28, 2020 12:17 PM IST

Haryana deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala’s move to table a private sector job quota bill in the assembly on Wednesday did not come about as the state government will have to take the cabinet route to seek the withdrawal of an identical ordinance from the Centre.

The governor had reserved the quota ordinance, approved by the cabinet, for the consideration of the President. The proposed legislation was sent to the Union home ministry by the Raj Bhawan for scrutiny by the central ministries concerned before the President takes a call.

Dushyant, though, wrote to the governor to seek the withdrawal of the ordinance, top officials aware of the developments said the cabinet will have to sanction the move to withdraw the ordinance.

“The ordinance has not been promulgated. Since it has been sent for the President’s consideration, the ordinance is still under a process. So unless it is withdrawn by the governor by writing to the Central government, a replica bill cannot be tabled. The move to withdraw it can only be approved by the cabinet,” said officials.

Since chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar got indisposed due to coronavirus infection two days before the assembly session, a meeting of the cabinet could not be convened to seek the withdrawal of the ordinance.

‘An argument in favour of propriety’

Former advocate general Ashok Aggarwal said it is the government’s prerogative to introduce an identical bill.

However, the decision not to do so when an ordinance is reserved for President’s consideration is a step in consonance with the highest traditions of constitutional propriety.

“Once the governor has expressed an opinion for seeking the presidential assent, it is appropriate not to hurry up or to make an overreach by presenting a bill in the assembly. Let the higher constitutional functionary take a view,” Aggarwal said.

The law expert said that the Supreme Court had held that an ordinance is also identical to a law passed by the legislature.

The governor’s move to reserve the ordinance for the consideration of the President is being seen as a setback for Dushyant, whose Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) had made a poll promise to implement the quota. Article 201 of the Constitution says that the President can either declare that he assents to the proposed law or that he withholds assent. The President can also direct the governor to return it to the House for reconsideration.

Why was it reserved for President’s consideration

The ordinance was reserved for the President’s consideration as its section 23 gave it an overriding effect over other laws and has the potential to be repugnant to an Act of the Parliament.

The clause providing for preference in jobs to the local candidates domiciled in Haryana also was seemingly in contravention of Article 14 of the Constitution pertaining to equality before law and Article 19 (1)(g) which provides for protection of certain rights to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business. The Constitution does not provide a time limit for the President to assent to a bill or withhold it.

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