Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Wednesday thanked the Supreme Court for its “historic” decision and “saving the existence of democracy”, saying the upcoming state assembly session will now go on without any obstruction.
His remarks come a day after Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit told the Supreme Court that he has summoned the Assembly for the budget session on March 3. The Punjab government had moved the apex court after it accused the governor of not “reverting” to the cabinet's decision of summoning the budget session of the Vidhan Sabha.
“Thanks for the historic decision of the honourable Supreme Court to save the existence of democracy in Punjab...now the voice of 3 crore Punjabis 'Vidhan Sabha session' will go on without any hindrance,” Mann tweeted in Punjabi. The top court also told both sides that constitutional discourse has to be conducted with a sense of decorum and mature statesmanship.
Stressing that the governor and the chief minister are constitutional functionaries with specified roles and obligations earmarked by the Constitution, the apex court had on Tuesday observed that there was a dereliction of constitutional duty by both. Not furnishing the information sought by the governor would be a dereliction of the chief minister's constitutional duty which would allow the governor to not do his constitutional duty to summon the budget session, it said.
The court also said there was no occasion for the Punjab governor to seek legal advice on whether to convene a budget session as he is bound by the aid and advice of ministers. The tussle between the Punjab governor and Mann had worsened last week with Purohit indicating he was in no hurry to summon the assembly's budget session, and reminding the chief minister about his "derogatory" response to a letter from the Raj Bhavan.
In that 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 3 crore Punjabis, not to a Centre-appointed governor and also questioned the Centre's criteria for appointing governors.
Purohit had called Mann's replies not only "patently unconstitutional but extremely derogatory", saying he was compelled to take legal advice. Purohit's letter to Mann had come two days after the Punjab Cabinet decided to call the assembly session on March 3 and requested the governor to summon the House.
The governor had told Mann that he would 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.