Rationale, not bias behind returning government legislation, says Punjab governor

Punjab Governor Muhammad Balighur Rehman has said that the governor’s office did not have any bias but certain government legislation was returned on a rationale and in public interest to rectify mistakes as the proposed drafts had some lacunas and lacked codal formalities.

In a panel interview with Minute Mirror here on Friday, the Punjab governor spoke at length about his good intentions towards discharging official business and duties to protect people’s rights and uphold the constitution. He also dilated on appointment of vice chancellors and initiatives to fight climate change.

Punjab Governor Muhammad Balighur Rehman, to a query, said 95 percent of the daily business get his assent the same day and the propaganda of not signing the bills was ill-founded, adding that scores of bills were assented forthwith in public interest.

“Opinion of the law department , the concerned institutions and the cabinet must be sought before a bill is routed to the governor’s office for the nod but the practice has been abandoned since 2021 and bills are forwarded to the Governor’s office directly,” Balighur Rehman said.

He said that he returned a bill with the suggestion  that the cabinet should be empowered to constitute a board rather than the chief minister taking the decision on his own.

On the shortcomings in the recently passed bills by the government, he said the bills like the RUDA, Local Government and Punjab Commission on the Status of Women are few examples where the government was advised to reconsider the shortcomings. The Ravi Urban Development Authority (RUDA) Bill was returned without approval as its board did not include a single woman while the law required that a board must give five percent representation to women.

Similarly, the government did not elaborate on the perks of the chairperson of Punjab Commission on the Status of Women in the bill and the salary package of MP1 status was removed from the previous draft. The bill was returned and the government was asked to clearly mention the salary scale so that nobody gets undue benefits in future.

He said the Punjab Local Government (Amendment) Bill blurred the rural and urban divide while it also ignored a seniority of officers in appointments, adding that the governor’s office pointed out the errors and asked the government to rectify.

To another query, Muhammad Balighur Rehman regretted that the government did not reciprocate the good intentions of his office, adding that the ruling parties make merry that the bill became a law without the governor’s signatures since the law allows the adoption of bill after 20-25 days if not signed by the governor.

On his initiatives on climate change, Rehman said, “I had floated the idea of fighting climate change consortium in universities long before the flash floods hit Pakistan,” adding that there was need to mobilize the academia in this regard.

He said that the vice chancellors of the universities have been given the task to come up with short-term and long-term solutions, adding that the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS) has the best climate change experts.

The Punjab governor said there was a need for the universities to offer market-driven courses to keep pace with the modern world, adding that the world faced a dearth of semi-conductors during the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, adding that only China and few other countries provided for the needs.

On the appointment of vice chancellors in public sector universities, the governor stressed the need of regular appointees against key posts in universities, adding that in case of retirement, a vice chancellor will be given a six-month and a three-month extension and, in case, no regular appointee is selected, a new person will be posted on ‘Acting Charge Basis’.

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