Why are you not allowing the Rajasthan government to call an assembly session immediately?
I have never said that I will not allow a session to be called. That has never been my intention. But the state government challenged my authority by writing to me three days ago that the governor is bound by the Cabinet’s decision to call a session and has no power to make a decision on his own.
They cited a Supreme Court order in ‘Nabam Rebia Vs Deputy Speaker, Arunachal Pradesh’ and paragraph 162 of the same. But they did not read paragraphs 150 to 162 of the same order, which says that while a governor would follow the Cabinet’s decision in normal circumstances, the governor can use his discretionary power under special circumstances to give his suggestions to the government.
I have taken legal opinion. These are special circumstances due to the coronavirus situation and I have to follow the procedure. A session can be called at short notice also. But the government has to say what the urgency is. Their proposal doesn’t say they want to have a trust vote. Is there a hidden agenda?
Congress has alleged that you are working under BJP’s pressure and not calling a session…
I want to make it clear to all that I am not working under anyone’s influence. My only master is the Constitution of India and I am following it.
It is wrong on the part of the CM to say that I am not calling the session because I am under someone’s pressure. This is a wrong allegation. If I am a governor, then I am everyone’s governor — I am not governor of any one party.
Also, I want to say it was not right to hold a dharna inside the Raj Bhavan and set a wrong precedent. I always had good and cordial relations with chief minister Ashok Gehlot. I do not know what has happened now.
Is the coronavirus situation a stumbling block in calling a session soon?
The coronavirus situation is a serious one. The Government of India has laid-down guidelines on social distancing and there are fines if you do not follow them. In the assembly hall, we have to seat 200 MLAs and there are over 1,000 officials and employees, and it is not possible to seat them all together given the social distancing norms.
The government must specify how it will ensure social distancing in such a situation. Safeguarding these hundreds of lives is my responsibility as well as a governor.
Under such special circumstances, the governor also has to ensure that all members get adequate advance notice, proper safety, and their independent will to arrive and attend the assembly and the procedure for the same is followed. As per my power under the Constitution in such special circumstances, I have advised the government to act accordingly for calling a session.
But your latest communiqué to the government said a session must be called with a 21-day notice period while the government wants to call one from July 31…
Under normal circumstances, the legislative assembly speaker initiates a proposal for an assembly session, a 21-day notice is given and the Cabinet approves it. The chief minister told me they want to call a short-term emergency session.
I asked what the reason is and asked how this will happen. Their proposal does not mention that they want to seek a trust vote. If the government wants to call a short-term session for a trust vote, as various media outlets are saying, it can be a reasonable basis to call a short-term session.