March 18, 2023 10:11 PM



It has been over 40 months since the current 14th Legislative Assembly of Haryana got constituted 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 14th Haryana Assembly was however summoned on 31 October, 2019 issued under Article 174(1) of Constitution of India by then State Governor, Satyadeo Narain Arya, from Nov 4, 2019. The same day after then Pro-tem (Acting) Speaker, Dr. RS Kadian administered the Oath or affirmation 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 an announcement in the House recognizing Bhupinder Singh Hooda, leader of 31 members ( currently 30 members after resignation of Kuldeep Bishnoi ) Congress Legislature Party (CLP) as Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Assembly.

However even after completion of close to three and a half years of constitution of current Haryana Assembly, neither the Haryana Vidhan Sabha Secretariat nor the Parliamentary Affairs Department of Haryana Government has issued/published any Public/Gazette Notification in this regard i.e. regarding duly notifying the name of Bhupinder Hooda as recognized LoP in Haryana Assembly. 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 ?

Meanwhile, an Advocate at Punjab and Haryana High Court, Hemant Kumar, has been consistently writing to Haryana Vidhan Sabha Secretariat as well as State Government since May, 2022 urging immediate issuance/publication of requisite Gazette Notification pertaining to recognition of CLP leader, Bhupinder Singh Hooda as LoP in current Haryana Assembly however it is yet to be published.

Hemant said that when on April 25, 2022 he came across a Notification published in Punjab Government Gazette issued 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 Bhupinder Hooda as LoP in Haryana Vidhan Sabha however after thoroughly searching all Gazette Notifications issued by Haryana Legislative Assembly and Parliamentary Affairs Department which comes directly under Chief Secretary, Haryana he was unable to find any such Notification. Even such Notification has also not been uploaded on the official website of Haryana Vidhan Sabha and State Chief Secretary.

Hemant recalls that earlier too, Hooda has remained LoP in Haryana Assembly firstly during the tenure of OP Chautala Government during Aug, 2002 to May, 2004 i.e. till
Hooda was elected as Lok Sabha MP from Rohtak & former CM Bhajan Lal replaced 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.

The Advocate also asserts that two years 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. Thereafter, on Aug 17, 2022, the ibid Rule 2 was further amended and it has been inserted therein that a Notification to this effect (i.e. regarding recognition of LoP) shall be published in the Official Gazette. However, the same is yet to be published till date.

Hemant further asserted that although after announcement made by the Speaker in the House on Nov 4, 2019 pertaining to recognizing Hooda as LoP in the Assembly, (which is very much available/accessible online under the head Legislative Business - Bulletins and House Proceedings(Confirmed) on website of Haryana Assembly) the same was conveyed to the State Government by Assembly Secretariat via letter dated 4 Nov, 2019, still a Notification in the Official Gazette in this regard ought to be essentially issued since post of LoP is although not Constitutional 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 announcement 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 duly notified in the Haryana Government Official Gazette by Vidhan Sabha Secretariat. Hence, the announcement made by the Hon'ble Speaker in the House on 4th Nov 2019 pertaining to recognition of Bhupinder Singh Hooda as LoP in current Assembly ought to be supplemented by its due publication in the Official Gazette as also now mandated under recently amended Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Haryana Legislative Assembly.

In the case of both Houses of Parliament viz. Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha too, similar sort of Notifications pertaining to LoP in both Houses are also published in Gazette of India, quips Hemant.

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