The Supreme Court on Tuesday pulled up both the Punjab government and Governor Banwarilal Purohit for “dereliction”. The SC was hearing the dispute between the Punjab government and the Governor over the summoning of the Budget session of the assembly. The apex court said that while the governor is bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers to convene the Budget session, the chief minister is duty-bound to furnish information sought by the former on the decisions taken.
The arguments in the case were heard by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha. This comes after Punjab governor Banwarilal Purohit told CM Mann that he will take a call on summoning the budget session only after taking legal advice on the CM’s response to the issues raised by him in an earlier letter.
CJI Chandrachud said: “There was no occasion to seek legal advice on whether to convene the Budget session, as he [governor] was bound by the aid and advice of council of ministers.”
“The background which led to the course of action has placed its origin to communication by governor to disclose information by state government. Art 167 of Constitution enunciates duties of CM to furnish information,” CJI Chandrachud sought to explain.
While reading out the order, CJI Chandrachud said: “The CM has duty to communicate to governor…he has to furnish information concerning administration of state as governor requires. The CM is duty bound to submit for the consideration of council…”
“There must be in our public discourse, a certain constitutional discourse. We may belong to different political parties, of course the governor is to be politics. We have to have a constitutional discourse”, CJI Chandrachud was quoted as saying by Live Law.
“From both sides there is dereliction,” Justice Narasimha said.
CJI Chandrachud was further quoted as saying by LiveLaw: “While on one hand the administration of state is entrusted to democratically elected CM, which in turn forces collective responsibility, the governor as Constitutional authority appointed by government, is entrusted with duty to guide and counsel.”
However, the CJI noted that during the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had placed on record an order dated Feb 28, 2023, of thw Governor. “In terms of this order, Governor of Punjab has summoned today the 16th Vidhan Sabha to meet for Budget session at 10 am on Friday, 3 March.”
Earlier, according to PTI, Aam Aadmi Party national spokesperson Raghav Chadha said on Sunday that the Punjab government has been “forced” to move the Supreme Court over the issue of summoning the budget session of the state assembly as the governor is not responding to the cabinet’s decision in this regard.
Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann also said his government now has to move the apex court for calling the budget session of state assembly and alleged that the governors appointed by the Centre are “acting as star campaigners of the saffron party in the respective states”.
The tussle between Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit and CM Mann worsened on Thursday with Purohit indicating he is in no hurry to summon the assembly’s budget session. The governor also reminded the CM about his “derogatory” response to a letter from Raj Bhavan.
Purohit’s letter to CM Mann came two days after the Punjab Cabinet decided to call the assembly session from March 3 and requested the governor to summon the House.
“On 22nd Feb 2023, the Punjab Cabinet asks the Punjab Governor to summon the budget session of the assembly from 3rd March 2023. On 23rd Feb 2023, Punjab Governor says he needs to take legal advice on that. Till date Governor not reverted on this issue,” Raghav Chadha said on Twitter.
In another tweet, he said, “Settled law that Governor has to summon assembly as per advise of Cabinet sought to be overridden by Governor… We have been forced to move Supreme Court on something as basic as summoning budget session of Punjab Assembly. Matter will be mentioned tomorrow morning in SC.”
Mann said on Twitter in Punjabi, “Glimpses of the world’s largest democracy: Go to the Supreme Court for the appointment of Mayor despite having majority in Delhi (MCD)..Go to the Supreme Court for appointment of Deputy Mayor… Now, to conduct the budget session of Punjab Assembly, have to move the Supreme Court… Search for democracy continues.”
“It is unfortunate the Raj Bhavans have turned into BJP headquarters for dictating the elected governments,” Mann, who was speaking at an event in Gujarat’s Bhavnagar recently, said.
Mann said that in democracy “elected and not the selected persons appointed from Union government are supreme”, the statement said.
In his February 13 letter, the governor had asked Mann to explain the process of selecting 36 government school principals for a training seminar held recently in Singapore, and raised other issues as well.
Mann had responded that he was only answerable to three crore Punjabis, not to a Centre-appointed governor and also questioned the Centre’s criteria for appointing governors.
Purohit had called Mann’s replies “patently unconstitutional but extremely derogatory”, adding that he was compelled to take legal advice.
“Since your tweet and letter both not only patently unconstitutional but extremely derogatory also, therefore, I am compelled to take legal advice on this issue. Only after getting legal advice, I will take decision on your request,” said Purohit in the new letter.