UDF requests Kerala Governor not to approve bills passed in assembly without discussion

The letter states that the two bills were passed by the assembly by waiving the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Assembly.

ByPTI

Published Jun 13, 2024 | 10:14 AM Updated Jun 13, 2024 | 10:14 AM

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan. (Supplied)

The Congress-led UDF opposition in Kerala on Wednesday, 12 June, wrote to Governor Arif Mohammed Khan requesting him not to approve the two bills passed by the state Assembly on 10 June without any discussion in the House.

The letter on behalf of the UDF was sent by Congress’ Parliamentary Party Secretary AP Anil Kumar who urged Khan not to give his assent to the Kerala Panchayati Raj (Second Amendment) Bill, 2024, and the Kerala Municipality (Second Amendment) Bill, 2024.

The letter states that the Assembly passed the two bills by waiving the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Kerala Legislative Assembly.

It also said that according to the agenda of the assembly on 10 June, the two bills were to be introduced in the House and then they were to be referred to the subject committee.

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‘Bills passed without Opposition participation’

“However, on 10 June, 2024, while the opposition was protesting in the well of the House over the bar bribery allegation demanding a Vigilance and Anti Corruption probe and a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act, the Speaker permitted the minister concerned to move a motion to pass the Bill.”

“Subsequently, the bills were passed without the participation of the opposition members. The opposition members were deprived of an opportunity to present their proposals and arguments in the important legislation related to division of wards in local self-government bodies,” the letter said.

It further said that though there have been instances where such extraordinary power has been invoked, those were with the consensus of the opposition.

“This action of the Government to hastily pass the bill, contrary to what was specified in the agenda, and without leaving them for the consideration of the subject committee is against the basic tenets of natural justice of hearing the other side,” the letter said.

Kumar also said the reason for urgency given by the government to justify its action, “doesn’t stand good”.

Delimitation of local body

The opposition claimed that the two bills provide for the delimitation of local body wards based on the 2011 census data.

It further stated that while the latest data based on the upcoming census is expected in a couple of years, “the hurriedly made move raises suspicion as the population increase is significant in the past 10 years, based on which the upcoming census is planned”.

Kumar also said that the Leader of Opposition in the state assembly VD Satheesan has registered a protest in writing with the Speaker against denying the opposition members the right to voice their views on the bills.

“Though the Speaker has agreed with the opposition contention, the point of order moved in this regard was settled by the Speaker.

“Thus, to uphold the spirit of democracy and the values enshrined in our Constitution, I request your good self to refrain from assenting to the Kerala Panchayat Raj (Second Amendment) Bill, 2024 and the Kerala Municipality (Second Amendment) Bill, 2024, which were passed by the Kerala Legislative Assembly,” Kumar has said.

Also Read: Left government passing Bills in state Assembly in ‘Modi style’: Congress-led UDF

‘Modi style’

The letter was sent to the Governor a day after the opposition accused the Left government of passing bills in the House in the “Narendra Modi style” by choosing not to hold any discussions with the opposition.

Satheesan, as well as senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala and UDF MLA N Samsudheen, said that what happened was wrong, something that has never occurred in the past, and it has set a bad precedent in the House.

Satheesan said that the bills were passed “in the same way as the Sangh Parivar government does in Parliament”, and staged a walkout as Speaker AN Shamseer rejected their demand to suspend the two legislations.

The Speaker had declined to suspend the two bills based on the submission by state Local Self Government Minister MB Rajesh that the legislation needed to be passed urgently as the procedures, including ward delimitations, related to the local body elections to be held in 2025 should be completed in a timely manner.

At the same time, Shamseer had conceded that it was “most desirable” that all bills, except financial bills, be passed after consideration by the concerned subject or select committees.

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