Press Trust of india

President’s rule can be imposed in Punjab, Governor warns CM Mann

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Chandigarh: In a sharp escalation of the tussle between the Punjab governor and Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, Banwarilal Purohit on Friday warned that he could recommend President’s rule in the state and also launch criminal proceedings if his letters are not answered.

In his latest communication, the governor indicated he was upset over not getting any reply to his previous letters and told the Punjab chief minister that he could send a report to the President on “failure of constitutional mechanism” in the state.

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. Section 124 of the IPC relates to assaulting or wrongfully restraining the President or a governor from exercising their lawful powers.

“I have, therefore, to advise you, warn you and ask you to respond to my letters referred to above and give me the information sought by me,” the governor said in the letter released to the media.

“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.”

Purohit mentioned an August 1 communication and said, “It appears that you are deliberately refusing to give the information asked by me.”

The governor has earlier written to Mann seeking information on training seminar abroad for 36 school principals, and other issues. He said the chief minister didn’t replied.

In the latest letter, the governor claimed he has received reports from various agencies on rampant drug abuse in Punjab.

“It is common knowledge that they are available in chemist shops, a new trend is observed that they are being sold in the government controlled liquor vends,” Purohit wrote, citing recent action by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and Chandigarh Police in which 66 liquor vends in Ludhiana were sealed for selling drugs.

He also cited a parliamentary standing committee report on drug addiction in Punjab.

He said facts pointed at the “breaking down of law and order” in Punjab to the extent that villagers are protesting on the streets and setting up their own defence committees to protect themselves from drugs.

“Please send a report concerning the action taken by you in the matter of these drugs to my office immediately,” Purohit said.

The governor said it is his duty under the Constitution to ensure that the administration carries out efficient, impartial and honest work, and the state government’s proposals are not contrary to the law of the land.

“I have, therefore, to advise you, warn you and ask you to respond to my letters referred to above and give me the information sought by me,” he said.

Purohit said not furnishing the details sought by him would be plain dereliction of the duty which is imposed on the chief minister under Article 167(b) — a provision in the Constitution that allows the governor to call for information.

“This behaviour shows that you have not only disobeyed the provisions of the Constitution of India, but have acted in a manner that may be described as being contemptuous of the honourable Supreme Court,” he wrote.

The governor also referred to the “derogatory words” used by the chief minister against him in the Punjab Assembly in June.

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