The Supreme Court agreed to hear on Tuesday a plea of the Punjab government against the Governor’s “refusal” to summon the Budget session scheduled for March 3.
A bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha said it will take up the Punjab government’s plea at 3:50 pm after a five-judge Constitution bench hearing on the Maharashtra Shiv Sena political crisis.
Senior advocate AM Singhvi, appearing for the Punjab government, requested for urgent hearing of the plea on Tuesday itself.
He added that Constitution bench hearing will not get affected if the matter is taken up for hearing for 10 minutes during the day.
The bench told Singhvi, that he will be arguing before the constitution bench and therefore it will take up the plea for hearing at 3.50 pm.
The tussle between Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit and Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had worsened last week with Purohit indicating he is in no hurry to summon the assembly’s budget session, and reminding the CM about his “derogatory” response to a letter from the Raj Bhavan.
Purohit’s letter to CM Mann had come two days after the Punjab Cabinet decided to call the assembly session from March 3 and requested the governor to summon the House.
In his latest communication, Purohit had told 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.
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 three crore Punjabis, not to a Centre-appointed governor and also questioned the Centre’s criteria for appointing governors.
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Purohit had called Mann’s replies not only “patently unconstitutional but extremely derogatory” also, saying 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.
On February 13, Purohit had questioned the selection of school principals for a foreign trip for a training seminar, saying he has received complaints of “malpractices and illegalities”.
He had also raised issues of “illegal” appointment of Punjab Agricultural University vice-chancellor and promotion of an IPS officer who was shunted out for alleged misconduct, among others.
Claiming that Mann “never cared to reply” to his letters in the past, Purohit had told the chief minister that people did not elect him to run the state according to his “whims and fancies” and that as per the Constitution, he is “bound to furnish” any information sought by the Raj Bhavan.
The governor had asked the chief minister to reply to his letter within a fortnight, failing which he would seek legal advice for further action.
Last year too, there had been a squabble between the governor and the AAP government over holding a session of the Punjab Assembly.
The governor had withdrawn the permission to hold a special session on September 22 after seeking legal opinion when the AAP government wanted to bring a confidence motion only in the House.
Later, the governor gave his nod only after the government provided details of the legislative business.
In October, Governor Purohit had refused to approve the AAP government’s pick for the vice chancellor’s post at Faridkot’s Baba Farid University of Health Sciences.