"Will Go To Supreme Court": B Mann Amid Growing Tensions With Governor

The motion to adjourn the House was moved by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Balkar Singh and was passed by the assembly.

'Will Go To Supreme Court': B Mann Amid Growing Tensions With Governor

Bhagwant Mann said one should not suspect assembly session's legality. (File)


The two-day Punjab assembly session was cut short on its first day Friday with the AAP government announcing it would move the Supreme Court against the governor for not approving the three Bills that were to be tabled in the House.

Governor Banwarilal Purohit had termed the session illegal and withheld his approval to the revenue-related Bills, escalating the tussle between him and Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann. In the House, Bhagwant Mann attacked the governor calling him "laat sahab" once and telling him that he is behaving as if Punjab is under Governor's Rule or like he is the lieutenant governor of Delhi.

Expressing displeasure over the situation, Bhagwant Mann urged Speaker Kultar Singh Sandhwan to adjourn the House sine die and said his government will move the Supreme court on October 30 against the governor over the issue.

The motion to adjourn the House was moved by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Balkar Singh and was passed by the assembly.

This is the second time this year that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government will move the Supreme Court over differences with the governor on summoning an assembly session.

The surprise announcement by Bhagwant Mann came even after the speaker asserted that the session was legal.

Bhagwant Mann slammed Banwarilal Purohit for raising questions over the legality of the session called by his government and asked, "in a democracy, when we have been elected by the people, then why can't we decide".

He alleged that non-BJP ruled states such as Kerala, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, are also witnessing governor-state government tussles. Opposition parties should come together on this issue, the chief minister said.

Bhagwant Mann said the session can be of two days or 20 days, but one should not suspect its legality.

"Speaker sahab, I do not want this every day fight (with the governor) to escalate further," Bhagwant Mann said and urged the speaker to adjourn the assembly sine die.

"I request you that we will not table any Bill till we ensure Punjabis that this session is legal and the governor will have to give approval to all Bills and also sign them afterwards," he said and added that "we will knock the door of the Supreme Court in the coming days".  The chief minister said that he knows that in the Supreme Court, "such (governor's) letters do not stand", and added that his government will move the Supreme court on October 30.

He said his government will call the session in the first week of November after approaching the Supreme Court.

For money Bills, approval of the governor is required, Bhagwant Mann said and added that "we are not getting the same". He said his government had planned to bring Bills which were related to revenue.

"When money comes to the government, it spends it on people's welfare. But unfortunately, our honourable governor raises questions on the legality of the session," the chief minister said.

"Sometimes, questions are raised why we are giving power subsidy, why we gave bailout to PUNBUS (Punjab Roadways) and sometimes questions are raised about the state's debt. We will reply to all the letters," he said targeting the governor.

But it does not mean the governor will create obstacles in the path of the elected government every day, Bhagwant Mann said.

The chief minister claimed that an expenditure of Rs 25 lakh was incurred when his government had moved the Supreme Court earlier this year after the governor refused permission for the Budget Session.

On February 28, Banwarilal Purohit had told the Supreme Court that he has summoned the assembly for the Budget Session on March 3 even as the Supreme court told both sides -- him and the state government -- that constitutional discourse has to be conducted with a sense of decorum and mature statesmanship.

Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann alleged that hose governors who are creating problems for democratically elected non-BJP state governments are being rewarded and some competition is going on between these governors as to who will create more problems.

"There is a difference between taking oath and administering oath. If 'laat sahab' thinks he took oath on March 16 in Khatkar Kalan, then he should recall he had administered the oath," said Bhagwant Mann as he took a swipe at Banwarilal Purohit.

Banwarilal Purohit had administered oath to Bhagwant Mann as chief minister at Khatkar Kalan on March 16 last year.

"If we do anything wrong, or transfer some SSP (senior superintendent of police) in a wrong manner, people will punish us in 2027 (next Punjab assembly elections). But where is it (said) that we have to tell why 'patwari' (revenue official) was transferred," Bhagwant Mann said.

"He feels either there is Governor Rule in Punjab or he is the LG (lieutenant governor) like in Delhi," the chief minister said attacking Banwarilal Purohit.

The AAP government on Friday went ahead with the session despite the governor's secretariat having said that the October 20-21 session -- being projected as an extension of the Budget Session -- is "bound to be illegal" and any business conducted during it "unlawful".

This is not the first time that the House has been convened after it was adjourned sine die, Bhagwant Mann said and gave an example of the Congress government which did the same in 2019. "You are questioning us, whether legal or illegal. We are saying it is legal," he said.

The Punjab governor had on Thursday written to the chief minister, withholding his approval for the three Bills. "Strongly suggesting" the Bhagwant Mann government to call either a Monsoon or Winter session instead of choosing to continue on this "precarious course", he had said.

Banwarilal Purohit had said if the government continued with the "patently illegal session", he would be compelled to consider an appropriate course of action, including reporting the matter to the President.

Referring to the governor's missive, Bhagwant Mann said in the letter, he has written that he will not give assent to the three Bills. "I today waited till the last minute (of any communication from the Governor's House) that perhaps he would agree. One of the Bills was related to GST (Goods and Services Tax)," he said.

Bhagwant Mann said the governor said if this illegal session is continued, he will complain to the President.

Earlier too he had threatened Article 356 (President's Rule), saying "we were not replying to his letters", Bhagwant Mann said. A state is brought under direct rule of the Centre with the invocation of Article 356, usually after a report is sent by the governor.

The three Bills were the Punjab Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (Amendment) Bill, 2023, the Punjab Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2023 and the Indian Stamp (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2023.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)