Punjab assembly passes bill to dissolve state vigilance commission

Published on Oct 01, 2022 02:43 AM IST

Chief minister (CM) Bhagwant Mann, while tabling the Punjab State Vigilance Commission (Repeal) Bill, 2022, said the main function of the commission was to inquire or initiate inquires into complaints against public servants under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988, and Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act, 2018, however, it had failed to serve any useful objective except being a burden on the state exchequer.

Chief minister Bhagwant Mann at the Vidhan Sabha in Chandigarh on Friday. (Ravi Kumar/HT)
Chief minister Bhagwant Mann at the Vidhan Sabha in Chandigarh on Friday. (Ravi Kumar/HT)
By, Chandigarh

The Punjab legislative assembly on Friday unanimously passed a bill to dissolve the state vigilance commission, set up two years ago by the Congress government.

Chief minister (CM) Bhagwant Mann, while tabling the Punjab State Vigilance Commission (Repeal) Bill, 2022, said the main function of the commission was to inquire or initiate inquires into complaints against public servants under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988, and Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act, 2018, however, it had failed to serve any useful objective except being a burden on the state exchequer.

“There are multiple agencies in the state, including the state vigilance department, to deal with corruption cases. Therefore, to avoid overlapping, contradictory findings, resultant delays and gaps in communication, it has become necessary to repeal the Punjab State Vigilance Commission Act 2020 (Punjab Act No 20 of 2020),” the CM announced in the House, adding that the decision was taken in larger public interest.

He added the state commission, set up on November 13, 2020, was supposed to function on the lines of the Central vigilance commission, but it had serious deviations.

It is for the second time that the commission has been dissolved.

The state vigilance commission was first set up in October 2006 during the Congress regime. However, soon after assuming power, the Parkash Singh Badal-led SAD-BJP government in March 2007 dissolved it.

Following this, the commission was constituted again in November 2020. Interestingly, Capt Amarinder Singh was at the helm of the government on both occasions when state vigilance commission was enacted by the state assembly.

Capt Amarinder Singh government had appointed Justice Mehtab Singh Gill, (retired) of the Punjab and Haryana high court as the head of the commission in April 2021 and his tenure was to end in April 2026. Once the governor gives his assent, the post and office will cease to exist.

Punjab goods and services tax amended

The legislative assembly also passed the Punjab Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Bill 2022. Finance, planning, excise and taxation minister Harpal Singh Cheema tabled the bill which was passed with majority.

Speaking on the importance of amendments in the bill, Cheema said tax evaders would be dealt with a stern hand. “To check the menace of bogus billing and fraudulent income tax certificates, Section 16 of the Act has been amended to empower the state government,” he added.

“To facilitate ease-of-doing business, the time period for availing ITC has been extended to the thirtieth day of November following the end of the financial year in which the supply is carried out,” he informed, adding that Section 39 has been amended to make the Act more practical.

The finance minister said that to facilitate the ease-of-doing business, Section 50 has been retrospectively amended to limit the levy of interest only on the ITC wrongly availed and utilised.

He further added that Section 54 is amended to provide that time period for claim of such refund shall be two years from the furnishing of return to streamline refunds to SEZ unit or developer.

Amendment in village common lands Act

The house also passed the Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulations) Act 1961. As per the amendment, the ownership rights of jumla mustarka malkan land (common village land) will vest with the village panchayat.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Gurpreet Singh Nibber is an Assistant Editor with the Punjab bureau. He covers politics, agriculture, power sector, environment, Sikh religious affairs and the Punjabi diaspora.

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