Posts Tagged ‘Narottam Mishra’
The Congress government of Harish Rawat in Uttarakhand is facing a crisis following large scale defections from the ruling party. Assembly Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal has tried to save the government, for the time being, by allowing the Appropriation Bill to be passed by a voice vote. But Kunjwal has only followed what Madhya Pradesh Assembly Speaker Sita Sharan Sharma had done last year. Kunjwal did it to save government. Sharma had done it to save corruption.
BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya has described Kunjwal as an agent of chief minister Harish Rawat and has accused him of violating the provisions of the Constitution by allowing the Appropriation Bill to be passed by voice vote. BJP spokesman Munna Singh Chauhan said that ‘he (Kunjwal) has no moral right to preside over the proceedings of the State Assembly as he has brought his office into disrepute. He should resign immediately if he has even an iota of self-respect left in him’. BJP leaders perhaps think that only Congressmen should have self-respect, those belonging to BJP do not require it.
Appropriation Bill is a Constitutional provision. After the budget estimates have been passed by the Assembly, the Appropriation Bill is presented to the House in a prescribed manner, debated and voted, if the members so desire, and passed. The BJP leaders’ allegation is that Uttarakhand Assembly Speaker Kunjwal has not put the Appropriation Bill to vote as the members had desired and thus violated the provision of the Constitution. Madhya Pradesh Assembly Speaker Sita Sharan Sharma had done worse in his eagerness to save chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan from Vyapam scam-related embarrassment.
Last year the budget session of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly was due to start on February 18. Two days before that, Digvijaya Singh threw a virtual bombshell. He submitted a sworn affidavit to the High Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) claiming that the excel sheets in the computers of the Vyapam had been tampered with to save chief minister Chouhan. Later he released a copy of his affidavit with the “tampered” excel sheets at a press conference.
On February 24, STF told the media that an FIR had been registered against the Governor on the basis of the statements made by some Vyapam officials who had been arrested by Special Task Force (STF) over a year earlier and were in judicial custody. The STF did not explain why it waited for over a year to act on the allegations made by the Vyapam officials in custody.
The FIR against the Governor created a sensation but it did not dampen the clamour against the chief minister. As Chouhan found it too embarrassing to face the incessant Opposition demand in the House for his resignation, Speaker Sita Sharan Sharma abruptly adjourned the budget session sine die on a motion of Legal Affairs Minister Narottam Mishra as the House assembled on February 26 (though it was scheduled to last till March 27). Before adjourning the House, the Speaker declared the budget passed – as well as the Appropriation Bill introduced, admitted and passed, in flagrant violation of the rules.
The Appropriation Bill cannot be passed at 11 AM. Rule 158(2) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha says that after introduction of the Appropriation Bill in the Vidhan Sabha, the Speaker will allot day or days for discussion of its various stages and “shall at 5.0 clock on the allotted day or as the case may be, the last of the allotted days, forthwith put every question necessary to dispose of all the outstanding matters in connection with the stage or stages for which the day or days have been allotted”. Apparently, for Speaker Sharma, saving the chief minister from continued embarrassment was more important than observance of the rules and propriety.
After Bhopal Raj Bhavan’s alleged involvement in Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s infamous VYAPAM scam became public, Congress leader and former Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Ajay Singh suggested that Governor Ram Naresh Yadav should resign. Ajay Singh was a bit too late in seeking Yadav’s resignation, like his father Arjun Singh who could never take a political decision at the right time.
The right time for seeking Yadav’s resignation was when the Governor had, by his inexplicable action, lowered the dignity of the Constitution, brought to disrepute the office of the Governor and created embarrassment for the Congress party, to which he himself belongs, on the eve of the November 2013 Assembly elections. The conduct of most of the occupants of the Bhopal Raj Bhavan in the past couple of decades has, sadly, been less than exemplary.
The Assembly was abruptly adjourned while a Congress-sponsored motion of lack of confidence in the BJP’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan government was pending. The motion, levelling serious charges of corruption against Chouhan and his family members and close relatives, was admitted on July 9 (2013) and the time allotted for a discussion in the House. When it was taken up for a debate on July 11, Speaker Ishwardas Rohani called Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh to speak. However, Deputy Leader of Opposition Rakesh Singh Chaturvedi stood up and said that he was opposed to the no-confidence motion. The BJP members were promptly on their feet hailing him and creating loud noise. The Congress members took a little time to recover from this sudden shock and denounce Chaturvedi.
In the free-for-all that followed, minister of legislative affairs Narottam Mishra moved a motion for an adjournment of the House. Speaker Rohani promptly adjourned the House sine die, leaving Opposition members flabbergasted. Top BJP leaders led by chief minister Chouhan hugged and lionised Chaturvedi and took him outside where Chaturvedi announced before media persons that he was joining the BJP. Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh (who lacks the acumen of his late father) made the tactical mistake of not opposing the motion moved by Narottam Mishra for an adjournment of the House. That, though, was a minor thing.
The Congress then petitioned Governor Ram Naresh Yadav. The Governor had two options before him. He could prorogue the Assembly under Article 174(2) of the Constitution or he could send a message to the House under Article 175(2) for the consideration of the pending motion. Article 175(2) says: “The Governor may send messages to the House or Houses of the Legislature of the State, whether with respect to a Bill pending in the Legislature or otherwise, and a House to which any message is so sent shall with all convenient despatch consider any matter required by the message to be taken into consideration.”
This is followed by Rule 20 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha which says: “Message by Governor: – Where a message from the Governor for the Vidhan Sabha under Article 175(2) of the Constitution is received by the Speaker, he shall read the message to the House and give necessary directions in regard to the procedure that shall be followed for the consideration of the matters referred to in the message. In giving these directions the Speaker shall be empowered to suspend or vary the rules to such extent as it may be necessary to do so.”
Instead of acting in either way, the Governor started consultations with all and sundry, the lawyers and Constitutional experts included. He also sought opinion from the Advocate-General who has his office at Jabalpur. Congress leaders met him several times as did the leaders of some other parties. He had meetings with chief minister Chouhan and even called Speaker Rohani. In between, he made a trip to Delhi leaving an impression behind that he had gone to take directions. On return from Delhi, too, he continued to dither.
Then on July 26, he wrote a brief letter to the chief minister suggesting that the Assembly session should be reconvened. It was a vague and illiterate letter because the Executive does not come between Governor (who is part and head of the Legislature) and the Assembly. Moreover, the Governor did not cite under which provision of the Constitution or any other law he had written to the chief minister. Predictably, the chief minister did not take any notice of the letter. The whole thing came as a huge embarrassment to the Congress which was much too confident of debating the no-confidence motion in the House with the intervention of the Governor.
Rohani’s act in abruptly adjourning the Assembly was reprehensible enough, but what Governor Yadav did was most abominable. Instead of taking a decision either way as mandated by the Constitution, he started dilly-dallying and reportedly making compromises with chief minister Chouhan, casting thus an indelible slur on the institution of Governor.