Removal of disqualification: Speaker rejects objections of Opposition

Law Minister A. K. Balan Piloting the Bill in the Assembly on ThursdayThiruvananthapuram: Kerala Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan rejected objections raised by Opposition members against introduction of the Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Amendment Bill in the Assembly on Thursday.

The Speaker said that the Bill was being introduced for the limited purpose of avoiding disqualification of a member of the House upon his appointment as Chairperson of the proposed Administrative Reforms Commission. State legislature had powers to legislate on the matter and the Supreme Court had upheld the power.

Law Minister A. K. Balan pointed out that similar legislation had been passed by the House previoulsy. When Opposition members recalled that Mr. Balan himself had raised a point of order against the Bill introduced in 2012, the Minister noted that it had been overruled by the then Speaker. “My point of order need not be taken as verses from the scriptures,” he said.

Referring to the Opposition contention that the required assent of the Governor—as expenditure from the Consolidated Fund was involved in appointing chairman, was lacking; Mr. Balan said that the Bill was not a money Bill requiring Governor’s assent. “We are also not appointing the chairman under this law.”

Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala said that the Bill should have a financial memorandum listing expenditure on the Commission and its chairman. The ban on members of the House holding office of profit was aimed at their not being influenced by the administration by giving them positions in government.  That called for restraint on the part of the government in excluding positions attracting disqualification.

Kerala Congress (M) leader K. M. Mani said that the objective of the Bill had been hidden. If it was for appointment of V. S. Achuthanandan as chairman, that should have been stated in the ‘Statement of Objects and Reasons’ of the Bill.

During the general discussion on the Bill, Opposition members made digs at the government and Mr. Achuthanandan. V. D. Satheesan remarked that the Bill was the result of factionalism in the CPI (M).

Mr. Balan said that the Mr. Achuthanandan was the tallest leader alive in the State. He would not face the fate of former Chief Minister and Congress leader K. Karunakaran.

The House later referred the Bill to the Subject Committee.