The Punjab Assembly today passed nine Bills, including a Bill to regularise the services of 30,000 contract, adhoc and daily wage employees from various government departments, in a special session convened ahead of the 2017 state elections.
The passing of the Punjab Adhoc, Contractual, Daily wage, Temporary, Work Charged and Outsourced Employees' Welfare Bill, 2016, will put an additional financial burden of Rs 2,438 crore on the state exchequer.
With code of conduct expected to be imposed soon after the Election Commission announces the schedule for the state election, the special session of the Assembly was convened to push the nine legislations.
The decision to hold the session today was taken by the state cabinet in the meeting on Friday.
The Bills were passed by the Assembly in just 40 minutes without holding any discussion as the opposition benches remained empty. All Congress MLAs had resigned in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling on the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal project.
The Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was conspicuous by his absence from the House. However, his son and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal was present during the passing of the bills.
The Punjab Cabinet convened a one-day session of the House to carry out "important legislative business" after Governor V P Singh Badnore had reportedly conveyed to the government that he would be more comfortable in giving assent to the legislation if the Vidhan Sabha passed the ordinances in the form of a Bill.
The Punjab Adhoc, Contractual, Daily wage, Temporary, Work Charged and Outsourced Employees' Welfare Bill, 2016 Bill was moved by Punjab Parliamentary Affairs Minister Madan Mohan Mittal in the House and was unanimously passed by SAD-BJP MLAs present in the Assembly.
Mittal, who described the Bill as a "historic move", criticised the members of the Congress party for not attending the session, saying they made it clear that they were "anti-employee".
"It is sad that the opposition MLAs stayed away from the House," Mittal said and accused Congress-led government during 2002-2007 of "not recruiting a single person during its tenure.
The financial memorandum of the Bill says the annual
financial implication would be about Rs 583 crore and the total liability for the first three years would be around Rs 1,749 crore on account of regularising the services.
After three years, these employees would be given the regular pay scale, and the annual liability in the first year would be Rs 2,438 crore.
Taking an annual growth in the salary expenditure of 10 per cent, the annual financial implications at the end of five years would be Rs 3,600 crore, it said.
Notably, the SAD-BJP government in Punjab had given its nod to regularise the services of over 30,000 employees working on contract, adhoc, daily-wages, temporary and work-charged basis in various government departments, boards, corporations and societies in the state, in October.
Other bills which were passed during the special session included Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board (Amendment) Bill, 2016, the C T University Bill, 2016, Punjab Regulation of Fee of Unaided Educational Institutions Bill, 2016, Punjab School Education Board (Amendment) Bill, 2016, Punjab Bhagwan Valmik Ji Tirath Sthal (Ram Tirath) Shrine Board Bill, 2016, Punjab State Commission for Women (Second Amendment) Bill, 2016, Punjab Allotment of State Government Land Bill, 2016 and Punjab State Commission for Minorities (third amendment) Bill, 2016.
Earlier, the House paid tributes to 12 persons, including Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and former ministers Avtar Singh Brar and Devinder Singh Bajwa.
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Meanwhile, a regulatory body will be established in Punjab to curb the "practice of charging excessive fees" from students by private educational institutions.
The Punjab Assembly today also passed 'The Punjab Regulation of Fees of Unaided Education Institutions Bill, 2016 in this regard.
The statement of objects and reasons of the Bill said that excessive fees was being charged by the private unaided educational institutions from the students.
It said Punjab and Haryana High Court had given directions in its order in 2013 to set up a regulatory body to regulate fee of these institutions.
At present, there is no law in the state of Punjab to regulate the fees of these institutions and therefore, in order to comply with the High court orders, Punjab State Regulatory body is being established by enacting a law in the public interest, it said.
Notably, the Punjab Cabinet, on December 10, had given its nod for the setting up of regulatory authority or mechanism for the purpose of regulating fees of unaided educational institutions.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) termed the passage of some Bills by the SAD-BJP government in the special session of Assembly as "fraud" with the people and said the people should give a befitting reply in the upcoming Assembly polls for committing such a "fraud" with them.
State Convenor of the party Gurpreet Waraich in a statement said, "Timing of the passage of these bills, clearly indicates that these are nothing else but a last attempt to be-fool the people by diverting their attention from the 10-years' misrule of the SAD-BJP government."
He asked, "If, Badals were really serious about the woes of temporary employees, why they did not pass such a bill at the beginning of their tenure. Why now when they know that they cannot implement it?
"Badals have already smelled humiliating defeat in the upcoming Assembly polls and know it very well that people will not allow them to reenter into assembly. They made another attempt to make fool of them,"he claimed.