Published On: Tue, Jun 20th, 2023

Punjab Assembly Bill replaces Governor with chief minister as chancellor of state universities

Chandigarh: Amid a conflict between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Punjab and Governor Banwarilal Purohit, the Punjab Assembly on Tuesday unanimously passed the Punjab Universities Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2023, aiming to replace the Governor from the post of chancellor in all 11 state universities.

If the Bill gets the Governor`s consent, the Chief Minister would replace the Governor

If the Bill gets the Governor`s consent, the Chief Minister would replace the Governor as the Chancellor of state-run universities.

Earlier, the Bill was tabled in the Vidhan Sabha that was supported by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). The Congress was absent from the House. Justifying the need to bring the Bill, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said “if they could not appoint V-Cs they would be letting down the mandate given by the people.” The issue is likely to create a fresh tussle between the government and the governor.

Earlier, the Chief Minister said the Bill is a replica of West Bengal government`s Bill. The cabinet on Monday gave its nod to the Bill to be tabled in Vidhan Sabha on Tuesday. In a purported `tug-of-war` prompted by “indifference” of the state government in furnishing information sought by him, Governor Banwari Lal Purohit last week wrote a letter to Chief Minister Mann reminding him of the dereliction of constitutional duty.

Quoting the relevant portion of orders of the Supreme Court which were passed on the petition of the state government, the letter reads: “It would be necessary to underscore that both the Chief Minister and the Governor are constitutional functionaries who have specified roles and obligations earmarked by the Constitution. The Governor has a right to seek information from the Chief Minister in terms of Article 167 (b) on matters relating to the administration of the affairs of the state and proposals for legislation.”

“Once such information is sought, the Chief Minister is duty bound to furnish it. The tones and tenor of the tweet and the letter by the Chief Minister leave much to be desired. Not furnishing the information which was sought by the Governor would be plainly in dereliction of the constitutional duty which is imposed on the Chief Minister in terms of Article 167 (b),” it added.

The Governor reminded the Chief Minister that the information sought through his various letters is “yet to be furnished”, which is dereliction of constitutional duty as observed by the Supreme Court.

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