The two-day session of the Punjab Assembly begun on Monday.
The Aam Aadmi Party led government in Punjab is likely to table a bill in Vidhan Sabha today removing the Governor as the Chancellor of State Universities. This comes after the cabinet in the state gave its nod on Monday to the Bill.
Appointment of Vice Chancellor in dispute
The Governor and the CM of Punjab in the recent times have had continuous disagreement over several issues in the state. The latest is the dispute over appointment of the Vice Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU). The spokesperson the AAP in the state quoted Section 15A of the Punjab and Haryana Agriculture Act,1970 citing that the authority to appoint the VC of the Punjab Agriculture board vests with the Board of Management of the University and not the Governor. Hence, the governor is in no position to either appoint to remove the VC of PAU. The Governor earlier had struck down the appointment of noted cardiologist Dr. Gurpreet Wander as Vice Chancellor of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS) and had later objected to the CM about the appointment of Satbir Singh Gosal as the Vice Chancellor of PAU. He said that the said individual was “appointed without following UGC norms and approval of the Chancellor and were hence illegal”.
Punjab follows West Bengal Bill
The Chief Minister confirmed the move of the government in his news interviews that this Bill expected to be introduced today would be a replica of the West Bengal government Bill. He further quoted that if the Bill is passed, the CM would replace the governor as the Chancellor of the State Universities. The Mamta Banerjee Government in West Bengal passed a bill in the state Vidhan Sabha to remove the Governor as the Chancellor of State Universities. This bill was passed last year in June. The Punchhi Commission of 2010 had recommended in this aspect that the Governor should not be “burdened with positions and powers, which may expose the office to controversies or public criticism”.
The tussle between the Governor and the ruling party in the State reached the Supreme Court early this year when the Governor refused to summon the budget session of the Assembly from 3rd March. However, a bench presided over by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud disapproved of the actions of both Governor Purohit and Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann for allowing their political disagreements to prevent them from carrying out their constitutional obligations. The court emphasized on compliance of Article 174 of the Constitution which gives power to the Governor “to summon the Assembly on the aid and advice of the council of ministers”. The governor in this respect cannot use its discretion. The Court also quoted Article 167(b) of the Constitution for the actions of the CM stating “when the Governor asks you to furnish information- you are duty bound to furnish it to him”. Lastly, the court added that “the Constitutional dialogue between the functionaries should be done with matured statesmanship”.