Letter bomb again: Punjab governor Purohit questions legality of two-day assembly session
Banwarilal Purohit, Punjab governor, wrote to chief minister Bhagwant Mann stating that according to legal advice received by him the two-day assembly session held last month was in “breach of law and procedure”
Punjab governor Banwarilal Purohit wrote to chief minister Bhagwant Mann on Monday, stating that according to legal advice received by him the two-day assembly session held last month was in “breach of law and procedure”, thereby casting doubt on the legality of four bills passed therein.
The governor’s letter was in response to the chief minister’s written request to him on Saturday to give his assent to the Sikh Gurdwaras (Amendment) Bill, 2023, passed during the special assembly session to ensure free-to-air telecast of Gurbani from the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
Three other bills, the Punjab Police (Amendment) Bill, 2023, the Punjab Affiliated Colleges (Security of Service Amendment) Bill, 2023, and the Punjab Universities Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2023 – were also passed. All four bills were later sent to the governor for assent.
“In order to discharge my duties conscientiously, I have proceeded to receive legal advice which gives me to believe that your calling of Vidhan Sabha session on June 19 and 20 when these four bills were passed was in breach of law and procedure, thereby casting doubt on the legitimacy and legality of those bills,” Purohit wrote.
The governor said that in the background of the legal advice received, he was actively considering whether to obtain the legal opinion from the Attorney General of India, or as per the Constitution, to reserve these bills for the consideration and consent of the President. “I shall take action according to law after the legality of the Vidhan Sabha session is first examined,” he added.
The letter bomb may escalate tension between Mann and Purohit who have had several run-ins over the past several months. The row between the two top functionaries started in October last year after the governor raised questions over the appointment of V-Cs of the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS) and Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and then saw them shoot off letters and take potshots at each other over the governor’s trips to border districts, assembly sessions, etc.
Reacting sharply to Purohit’s missive to the chief minister, AAP’s Punjab chief spokesperson Malvinder Singh Kang alleged that the governor had revealed his true colours as an agent of the Centre. “His actions not only undermine the authority of the state assembly but also expose a sinister agenda to suppress the voices of the people,” he claimed in a tweet. Kang said that Purohit’s “blatant disregard for due process and his attempt to subvert the will of the elected representatives, was a slap in the face of democracy.”
In the latest letter, Purohit, while referring to Mann’s July 15 communication, said it appeared from the CM’s assertion that he was concerned with certain actions of “a particular political family” that had prompted the passing of the Sikh Gurdwaras (Amendment) Bill. “You have also pointed out what you perceive as the possible fallout of any delay on my part in signing the bill immediately. You have also thought it fit to describe the time taken by me as something that “amounts to stifling the democratic will of the people of Punjab,” the governor wrote.
Purohit also refused to be drawn into an argument over a matter of the CM’s “private perception”, and pointed out that as governor he was enjoined by the Constitution of India to ensure bills were passed in accordance with the law.
After the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee announced to launch its own YouTube channel and later a satellite channel for the telecast of Gurbani, Mann had on Saturday urged the governor to sign the Sikh Gurdwaras (Amendment) Bill, 2023, before the agreement between the SGPC and the private channel expires on July 23.
He said the telecast of Gurbani will not be allowed to go into the hands of “special people” of the Badal family’s company again. “It is regretted that the bill sent to you on June 26 has not been signed till date. This amounts to stifling the democratic will of the people of Punjab,” he wrote to the governor.
After the special session, Purohit had, at a press conference, made known his intention of ascertaining the constitutional validity of the special session and the four bills.