Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit on Wednesday thwarted the Aam Aadmi Party government's plan to summon a special assembly session to bring in a confidence motion.
The governor withdrew an earlier order calling the special session on Thursday, saying it had sought legal opinion after the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party approached the Raj Bhavan arguing that the House rules did not allow it.
The latest order from the Raj Bhavan said the assembly rules did not allow summoning a session just to pass a trust vote in favour of the government.
The AAP had alleged that the BJP was trying to bring down its government in Punjab by poaching its MLAs. It sought to prove its majority through a confidence motion.
The opposition BJP and Congress had slammed the AAP move, accusing it of indulging in "theatrics" to divert the attention of people from its ”failures”. They asked why the AAP needed to move a trust vote when nobody had claimed that it had lost its majority in the House.
The governor had given permission on September 20 for summoning the special session on September 22. His latest order withdraws that permission.
"In absence of the specific rules regarding summoning of the assembly for considering the 'confidence motion' only called by the Punjab government on September 22, through special session of 16th Punjab Vidhan Sabha, I Banwarilal Purohit, governor of Punjab, hereby withdraw my orders dated September 20, regarding summoning the 16th Vidhan Sabha of the state of Punjab to meet for its third (special) session at 11 am on Thursday, September 22, in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha hall, Vidhan Bhavan, Chandigarh," the latest order read.
AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal hit out the governor for the decision. "How can the governor refuse a session called by the cabinet? Then democracy is over," the Delhi chief minister said in a tweet in Hindi.
The governor's decision came after Congress leaders Partap Singh Bajwa and Sukhpal Singh Khaira, and Punjab BJP chief Ashwani Sharma approached the Raj Bhavan, arguing that there was no legal provision to convene a special session just to move a 'confidence motion' in favour of the state government.
In a letter to the governor, Khaira had stated that there is provision only for a no-confidence motion under the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Chapter XII Para 58(1) but not for any Motion of Confidence.
The AAP government in Punjab had sought the session to bring a confidence motion, days after it accused the BJP of trying to topple its government.
The Punjab Cabinet on Tuesday had approved the recommendation to be sent to the governor for summoning the special session of the House under Article 174 (1) of the Constitution of India.
In his order withdrawing permission for the special session, the governor said he took the decision after seeking legal advice from additional solicitor general of India Satya Pal Jain.
Jain gave his legal opinion that there is no specific provision regarding summoning of the assembly for considering the "confidence motion" only, in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business, a letter sent to the secretary of the Punjab assembly by the Raj Bhavan read.
In the light of legal opinion establishing that there is no legal provision under the House rules that provides for convening a special session for the motion of confidence only, the Punjab governor has withdrawn his order summoning the state assembly on September 22, the letter added.
Before the order was withdrawn, the Punjab BJP had said it would boycott the special session summoned on September 22.
Addressing the media, BJP leader Sharma had said assembly sessions were meant to raise issues concerning the people of the state but AAP was just indulging in drama.
Slamming the ruling party for accusing the BJP of poaching its MLAs to topple the government, Sharma had said that the saffron party would 'gherao' the assembly on Thursday.
AAP had recently claimed that at least 10 of its MLAs were approached by the BJP with an offer of Rs 25 crore to each of them in a bid to topple the six-month-old government under its 'Operation Lotus.'
With 92 MLAs, the AAP has an overwhelming majority in the 117-member Punjab assembly, while the Congress has 18, SAD three, BJP two, and BSP one. The assembly also has an Independent member.