Uncertainty ends: no budget session from January 18

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Uncertainty over budget session of the Legislature, which had been called by previous Government headed by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed from January 18, has ended with cancellation of the session. New  budget session will now be called by the next Government after it assumes the office.
The 52 days long session with 36 sittings, which had been described as historic in terms of its duration and was due to start with Governor NN Vohra’s Address to joint session of the Legislature from January 18 was required to be cancelled in the absence of popular Government in the State, which ceased to exist on January 7 with the death of Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.
Legislative Assembly Speaker Kavinder Gupta told the Excelsior that the session called by the previous Government stood cancelled. There will be no Assembly session from January 18.
“The budget session will now be called by the new Government after the swearing-in ceremony,” Gupta said. However, he added that the business received by the Assembly Secretariat including questions, private member’s bills and private member’s resolutions can remain unchanged.
“As a large number of questions, bills and resolutions have been submitted by the MLAs, they can remain the same for the new session,” Gupta said.
A total of 63 MLAs had submitted 1169 questions for budget session of the Assembly, which included 624 starred and 545 un-starred questions.
In addition to questions, the Assembly Secretariat had received 86 private member’s resolutions and 17 private member’s bills from the MLAs.
The MLAs were entitled to submit 20 questions each-10 in starred category and 10 in un-starred category. Only MLAs can submit the questions, resolutions and bills while those holding official positions like Ministers, Presiding Officers (Speaker and Deputy Speaker) and the MLAs having rank of the Minister in different capacities can’t ask the questions.
Official sources said there were powers vested with the Speaker under which he can retain the questions submitted by the MLAs for new session even if the previous session had to be cancelled due to unavoidable circumstances.
According to sources, Governor NN Vohra in his meeting with the Administrative Secretaries also mentioned that decision on new budget session should be taken by the new Government.
The budget session would now depend on the new Government especially the Finance Minister. Former Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu had done exercise for the budget and was scheduled to present it on January 22. If he retains the Ministry and the portfolio, the new Government can go for early budget session but if there is change in the Ministry, the new Minister would have to take time in presentation of the budget.
“Everything on the budget and the budget session will now depend on formation of new Government,” sources said.
The previous PDP-BJP Government headed by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had created a history by convening longest ever 52 days long budget session of the Assembly with 36 sittings in which the Government was scheduled to present its second annual general budget on January 22. The Government had reserved highest number of 20 days for debate on all Government Departments before passing their budget.
This was for the first time in recent history that budget session of the Assembly had to last 52 days with 36 sittings. During 2015, the budget session had just 16 sittings and had lasted 22 days.
Starting January 18 with Governor’s Address to both Houses of Legislature, the session was scheduled to last till March 9.
During last year of 2015, the first of PDP-BJP coalition Government, the Legislature had just 23 sittings as against 100 recommended by a Parliamentary Standing Committee and unanimity at a conference of the Presiding Officers that the State Assemblies must have 50 to 70 sittings in a year to give legislators all possible opportunities to raise the issues of public.
Last year, the budget session in March-April in Jammu, the winter capital of the State, had 16 sittings while autumn session in October in Srinagar, the summer capital of the State had 7 sittings only, totaling 23, which were perhaps lowest as compared to other Assemblies in the country.

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