Governor can either give or withhold assent or return the Bill for reconsideration of House or else reserve it for consideration of President of India – Advocate
Chandigarh – It has been now full one month since the House of current 16th Punjab Legislative Assembly on the last day of its Second (Budget) Session i.e. on June 30 this year passed Punjab State Legislature Members (Pension and Medical Facilities Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2022 which thereafter was sent to the State Governor for obtaining his assent.
Now a full month has passed but the aforesaid Bill is yet to be enacted into an Act (law) i.e. it is still awaiting assent of the Governor for the reasons which nevertheless are to be made public.
Meanwhile, an Advocate at Punjab and Haryana High Court, Hemant Kumar said that although three other Bills viz. Punjab Rural Development (Amendment) Bill, 2022, Punjab Agricultural Produce Markets (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and
Punjab Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (Amendment) Bill, 2022 which were passed on the same day along with aforementioned Pension Amendment Bill have since received the assent of the Governor and as such all three have become Acts and as such have got notified and enforced with their publication in State Official Gazette.
Hemant asserts that as per provisions of Constitution of India, after a Bill is passed by the State Legislature (Assembly) is sent to the Governor for his assent, he has four options. He can straightway accord his assent or else withhold the same. Further, he can even return the Bill to the Legislature for reconsideration including suggestion of some sort of amendment(s) therein. Lastly, he can reserve the Bill for the consideration of the President of India in which case it is the President which can either grant or withhold his assent. Now what has actually happened to the Punjab Assembly passed MLAs Pension Amendment Bill is anybody’s guess since there has been no official word about its current status till date.
Pertinent that days after incumbent Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Government led by Bhagwant Mann assumed reins of power in March this year, it took a bold and unprecedented decision that all Ex/former members (MLAs) of Punjab Assembly would be entitled to get Pension for only one term irrespective of the fact that they had served as member of State Assembly for how many terms and also irrespective of the tenures of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha.
On May 2, the Punjab Cabinet approved the appropriate amendment in The Punjab State Legislature Members (Pension and Medical Facilities Regulation) Act, 1977 for enabling such change. However, AAP dispensation was not able to enforce the same at once via promulgation of Ordinance from the Governor Banwarilal Purohit as he returned the same in last week of May by asking the State Government that since the next Assembly Session was then due soon, hence it should be better brought in the form of a Bill in the ensuing Session.
Thereafter, the Amendment Bill i.e. The Punjab State Legislature Members (Pension and Medical Facilities Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2022 after being tabled in the Assembly on June 30, 2022 was passed the same day.
However, in the meanwhile, ex-MLAs of Punjab Assembly including of previous 15th Punjab Assembly, which was dissolved with effect from March 11, 2022, have not been getting their monthly Pension since the month of March, 2022 which is paid in the subsequent month.
Hemant after perusing the text of the aforementioned Pension Amendment Bill as passed by the House asserts that as per its Clause 1(2), it would eventually have prospective (future) and not retrospective (previous) effect i.e. in other words it would come into force from the date of its publication in the Punjab Government Gazette after receiving the assent of the Governor of Punjab. Hence, there is no rationale for withholding the Pension of former MLAs for the last over four months.
He told that after due enactment followed by enforcement of aforementioned Amendment law which amends Section 3(1) of aforementioned 1977 Act, the ex-MLAs are supposed to receive a pension of sixty thousand rupees per mensem plus Dearness Allowance (DA) thereon as admissible to the Punjab Government pensioners irrespective of the number of terms an Ex-MLA has served as a member and irrespective of the tenures of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha in which he had served as a member. However such ex-MLA after attaining the age of 65 years, 75 years and 80 years would be entitled to an increase of five percent, ten per cent and fifteen per cent respectively of the basic pension.
The Advocate further added that as per current Section 3(1) of ibid 1977 Act, an Ex-MLA receives a pension of 15 thousand rupees per mensem plus DA thereon as admissible to Punjab Government Pensioners for the first term and an additional ten thousand rupees plus DA thereon as admissible to Punjab Government Pensioners for every subsequent term irrespective of the tenures of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha in which he had served as a Member. However, after attaining the age of 65 years, 75 years and 80 years, such Ex-MLA is entitled to an increase of five percent, ten per cent and fifteen per cent respectively of the basic pension.
However, Hemant quips that there is an interesting catch here. Although the current rate of DA for Punjab Government Pensioners is 28% hence on that count, a former MLA with a single term as member of Punjab Assembly and who is below 65 years of age seems to entitled to monthly pension of only nineteen thousand two hundred rupees but the fact is that ex-MLAs are actually getting much more DA than Punjab Government Pensioners.
Hence, a former MLA with a single term as member of Punjab Assembly apart from getting fifteen thousand rupees as basic pension is additionally getting 50 percent of such amount i.e. seven thousand five hundred rupees as merged DA and further 234% gets added more as DA thus total Pension amount becomes over seventy five thousand rupees. This is when an ex-MLA is below sixty five years of age. The amount would increase further if the former legislator is over 65, 75 and 80 years of age.