The friction between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Punjab and the Governor has intensified after the Governor warned he may recommend the President’s rule over Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann not responding to official communication.
Governor Banwarilal Purohit today warned Mr Mann he could recommend President’s rule in the state and also start criminal proceedings if his letters are not answered.
A state is brought under the direct rule of the centre with the invocation of Article 356, usually after a report is sent by the Governor.
In his letters, the Punjab Governor raised questions on drug trafficking in the border state and asked Mr Mann about action taken by his government.
The Governor in the letter said he has got reports from various agencies about availability and use of narcotics, and how it has become common that they are allegedly available in pharmacies and even in government-controlled liquor stores.
The Governor quoted a recent report by the parliamentary standing committee that said one in five people in Punjab is addicted to drugs.
In his latest communication to Mann, Governor Purohit indicated he was upset over not getting any reply from him on his previous, and warned him that he could send a report to the President on “failure of constitutional mechanism.” Purohit advised Mann to act before he takes this “final decision” under Article 356 of the Constitution, and section 124 of the Indian Penal Code.
A state is brought under direct rule of the Centre with the invocation of Article 356, usually after a report is sent by the Governor. The IPC section relates to assaulting or wrongfully restraining the President or a governor from exercising their lawful powers.
“Before I am going to take final decision regarding sending a report to the President of India under Article 356 about the failure of the constitutional mechanism and take a decision about initiating criminal proceedings under section 124 of the IPC, I ask you to send me the requisite information sought for under my letters referred to above, as also in the matter of the steps taken by you concerning the problem of drugs in the State, failing which I would have no choice but to take action according to law and the Constitution,” the Governor said in the letter.
Responding to the Governor’s warning, AAP leader Malvinder Singh Kang told news agency ANI that the Governor should maintain a decorum.
“India’s Constitution empowers elected people… Such threatening and warning by the Governor, threat to impose President’s Rule – the BJP’s agenda has come on the lips of the Governor,” Mr Kang said.
“I would like to tell the Governor that if they want to impose the President’s Rule, they should do that in Manipur, in Haryana. Punjab government is working within the constitutional framework. Governor has just one agenda – taking forward BJP’s agenda of disturbing the non-BJP State governments,” the AAP leader alleged.
Other opposition-ruled states like West Bengal and Tamil Nadu have also alleged the Governor’s interference in the state government’s functioning.