BS HOODA IS LEADER OF OPPOSITION (LoP) IN HARYANA ASSEMBLY SINCE NOV, 2019 HOWEVER NO NOTIFICATION ISSUED TILL DATE
ADVOCATE WRITES TO SPEAKER & STATE GOVT URGING NOTIFICATION AS POST IS STATUTORY EQUIVALENT IN RANK & STATUS OF A CABINET MINISTER
It has been two and a half years since the current 14th Legislative Assembly of Haryana got constituted post completion of Assembly General Elections and with effect from Oct 25, 2019 pursuant to issuance of statutory notification by Election Commission of India (ECI) under Section 73 of Representation of the People Act, 1951.
The first Session of the current Assembly was however summoned via a Gazette Notification dated October 31, 2019 issued under Article 174(1) of Constitution of India by Satyadeo Narain Arya, then Governor of Haryana on and from Nov 4, 2019. The same day after Acting/Pro-tem appointed Speaker, Dr. Raghuvir Singh Kadian administered the Oath to all newly elected MLAs, thereafter Gian Chand Gupta, second time elected BJP MLA from Panchkula Assembly Constituency was unanimously elected as Speaker of the Assembly. The same day, Gupta as Speaker made a Statement in the House recognizing Bhupendra Singh Hooda, leader of 31-member Congress Legislature Party (CLP) as Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Assembly.
However even after completion of half tenure of current 14th Haryana Assembly till date, neither the Haryana Vidhan Sabha Secretariat nor the Parliamentary Affairs Department of State Government has publicly issued/ published any of Gazette Notification in this regard i.e. regarding duly notifying the name of BS Hooda as recognized LoP in Haryana Assembly by the Speaker. Now if this has been an inadvertent omission or else due to negligence of concerned officials of Vidhan Sabha Sectt and/or State Government is anybody’s guess?
I recently wrote to Assembly Speaker and State Government urging immediate issuance of requisite Notification in this regard.
When last month on April 25, 2022 I checked a Notification published in Punjab Government Gazette by State’s Parliamentary Affairs Department pertaining to notifying the name of PS Bajwa as LoP in Punjab Vidhan Sabha under Section 9 of Salary and Allowances of Leader of Opposition in Legislative Assembly Act, 1978, thereafter he tried to find the corresponding Notification with respect to Hooda as LoP in Haryana Vidhan Sabha however after thoroughly searching all Gazette Notifications issued by Haryana Legislative Assembly and Parliamentary Affairs Department coming directly under Chief Secretary, he was unable to find the same. Even such Notification has also not been uploaded on the official website of Haryana Vidhan Sabha and State Chief Secretary.
Earlier too, Hooda has remained LoP in Haryana Assembly firstly during the tenure of OP Chautala Government during Aug, 2002 to May, 2004 when former CM Bhajan Lal was replaced by Hooda and secondly during fag end of Khattar-1 dispensation i.e. for a month in Sep-Oct, 2019 when then CLP leader Kiran Chowdhry was replaced by Hooda.
Be that as it may, unlike neighbouring state of Punjab, the Legislative Assembly of Haryana has till date not enacted any sort of law regarding Salaries and Allowances of LoP but nevertheless Section 2(d) of Haryana Legislative Assembly (Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members ) Act, 1975 defines LoP as member of the Assembly who is for the time being recognized as such by the Speaker of the Assembly. Also Section 4 of ibid 1975 Act makes Special Provisions regarding LoP and his Salary, Allowances and other facilities/perquisites etc. are same as that of a Cabinet Minister means LoP’s rank and status is equivalent to it. Even the income tax on LoP’s Salary and Allowances is paid by the State Government from the public exchequer as in case of Chief Minister and Ministers.
A year ago on March 24, 2021 Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Haryana Legislative Assembly were amended wherein for the first time Leader of the Opposition has been defined in Rule 2 therein meaning Leader of a Legislature Party in the House having the largest number of members other than the party/parties forming the Government and having the strength at least equal to the strength of the quorum of the House and recognized as such by the Speaker.
Even if the Haryana Assembly Speaker after making announcement in the House on Nov 4, 2019 pertaining to recognizing Hooda as LoP in the Assembly and any letter or other form of communication has been issued by Speaker’s Office to Hooda in this regard, still a Gazette Notification on the subject ought to be essentially issued since although LoP post is not Constitutional per se but nevertheless it is statutory in nature viz. under Section 2(d) of 1975 Act as mentioned hereinbefore.
Even otherwise, whenever the Assembly Speaker makes any sort of Statement in the House be it in his administrative or legislative capacity regarding the constitution of any Select/Standing Committee comprising members of the House to examine any pending Bill/Legislation or takes any decision for some other purpose, then the same is also immediately and duly notified in the Official Gazette by Vidhan Sabha Secretariat.