Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
The Orissa Governor should be ashamed of how the Assembly he constitutionally heads and summons has been running in blatant disregard to dignity of democracy when the recognized Opposition that has, on reasons convincingly justified by it, stayed away from the Hall for the ninth consecutive legislative day.
It is a matter of grave concern that demands for grants are being adopted without being tested on the matrix of Opposition by the Bidhan Sabha that the recognized Opposition has alleged to have been transformed into a BJD Sabha.
According to the Article 203 under Clause (1) of the Constitution of India, “Estimates as relates to expenditure charged upon the Consolidated Fund of the State shall not be submitted to the vote of the Legislative Assembly”; but Clause (2) thereof stipulates that other expenditures in the form of demands for grant shall have to be.
And under clause (3) “No demand for grant shall be made except on the recommendation of the Governor”.
This makes it unambiguously clear that the Governor must ensure that the Assembly he summons must take a “vote” on the demands for grants he recommends, on which, its decision “to assent, or to refuse to assent, to any demand, or to assent to any demand subject to a reduction of the amount specified therein” shall depend.
In other words no demand for grants can be assented to by the assembly without “submitting” the same to “vote” in the Assembly.
The Assembly has two sides: the Treasury side and the Opposition side. The treasury side cannot say no to the demands for grants. Hence, voting in this regard means expression of approval or disapproval or amendment by the Opposition.
Therefore the Assembly has no right to give assent to any demand for grants in declared absence by the Opposition.
The “vote” so far said to have been taken in matters of the demands for grant is nothing but a farce of “voting” that the Speaker has under misconception authenticated. The government is killing the spirit of democracy taking advantage of the constitutional lacuna of absence of power with the people to withdraw their representatives.
Democracy would be in total peril if the Government, as per its hints, proceeds to adopt the Appropriation Bill after demands for grants are thus illegally adopted in absence of the recognized Opposition.
Vote is a must in matters of Financial Bills. The word ‘Vote’ does not mean expression of approval by members of the treasury benches, because their side is the proposer of the Bills and besides this, all of them act under the whip of the government. Vote in matter of Financial Bills means juxtaposition of treasury bench proposals with the preference of the opposition and on that matrix, determination the strength of opinion, assent or rejection.
Without participation in vote by the opposition, no demand for grants can be said to have been voted into acceptance and no consolidated fund can be said to have legally been constituted and hence no Appropriation can legally be allowed.
The Governor must not allow himself to keep his eyes and ears closed to such illegalities on his recommendations in the Assembly he summons.
To usher in a changed climate, he should invoke his constitutional powers to address the Assembly in this critical juncture and use his executive powers to solve the issue and prevail upon the CM to spare the State of the embarrassment of running of the rampart of democracy in an obnoxiously farcical autocratic manner, which Orissa has the misfortune to witness all these days.
If he fails, he should appreciate that the time has come for him to call back the Assembly session and to set the gear back to the position of the day when the Opposition started its boycott on records and to ensure that in his name, no Government runs with ministers whom the needle of suspicion so forcefully points to after the coal scam was unveiled by no less an authority than the vigilance wing of the State.
If the CM remains adamant, the Governor must wake up from his slumber and take steps to dissolve the Assembly in order to save it from the ongoing and expanding anarchy.