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Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019

Punjab Assembly passes bill for declaration of MLA assets with new deadline

Along with the The Punjab Legislative Assembly (Salaries and Allowances of Members) Amendment Bill , the assembly passed three more bills, including the one to hike the stamp duty.

chandigarh Updated: Feb 26, 2019 13:56 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Sukhdeep Kaur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
AAP MLA Aman Arora (in maroon jacket) had sought March 31 as the deadline, saying income tax returns are filed according to closing of financial year.
AAP MLA Aman Arora (in maroon jacket) had sought March 31 as the deadline, saying income tax returns are filed according to closing of financial year. (HT Photo )
         

The bill mandating declaration of property details by all Punjab MLAs was passed in the Punjab assembly on Monday. The new deadline for the disclosure is January 31, 2020. It was January 1 in the previous bill passed by the House in November 2017.

The bill faced fresh opposition, this time from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Party MLA Aman Arora sought March 31 as the deadline, saying income tax returns are filed according to closing of financial year.

Parliamentary affairs minister Brahm Mohindra assured to bring another amendment to the bill after getting it legally vetted. When the Punjab Legislative Assembly (Salaries and Allowances of Members) Amendment Bill was earlier passed in November 2017, mandating all members to declare their immovable assets by January 1 every year, BJP MLA Som Parkash had sought relaxation in the January 1 deadline saying it could fall on a weekend or holiday.

Mohindra had assured to bring in a new amendment to the bill in the next assembly session. It came more than a year later as amendment bill, 2019.

Arora also sought that disclosure of movable assets such as jewellery, cash, luxury cars and jets to be made a part of the bill. “What if an MLA owns a Rolls Royce car or a chopper? Can jewellery not be bought to park illegal income?” Arora questioned.

Though Mohindra had earlier said that the scope of the bill may also be widened by including both movable and immovable properties, the amendment makes no mention of it.

AAP legislator Kanwar Sandhu, who is now with the rebel camp, had also demanded that the CM, ministers and MLAs also disclose their business interests. The Congress manifesto had promised a “conflict of interest” law to debar ministers and MLAs from having stakes in state-owned businesses. But chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh had diluted the proposal soon after forming the government saying only ministers and not MLAs would fall within the purview of the proposed law. But the law is yet to be even tabled in the House.

The Punjab assembly passed three more bills, including the one to hike the stamp duty. Revenue minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria said it would help generate revenue by rationalising rates on certain documents in Schedule 1-A of the Indian Stamp Act, 1899. It was last revised in 2009. The opposition had slammed the move saying it proved their contention that new taxes and levies will come after the budget.

The Amritsar Walled City (Recognition of Usage) Amendment Bil, 2019, was also passed to allow one-time recognition of usage in respect of building violations made in commercial establishments within the city and for regulated development by ensuring public safety and convenience. The House also passed the Punjab Appropriation Bill, 2019, to allow the budgetary proposals for the next fiscal.