Proceedings of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly assembled
after the General Election, 1972
Proceedings of the Meghalaya Assembly held on the 26th March, 1974 in the Assembly Chamber, Shillong.
Prof. R.S. Lyngdoh, Speaker in the Chair, five Ministers, two Ministers of State and fifty-two members.
Mr. Speaker :- Let us begin the business of the day by taking up Unstarred Questions.
(To which written replies were laid on the Table)
Road Construction during the 5th Five-Year Plan
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh asked :
8. Will the Minister-in-charge. P.W.D. (R. and B.) be pleased to state -
(a) Whether the Government proposes to take up construction of the following roads during the 5th Five-Year Plan?
(i) Black Topping of L. M. Road from Weiloi to Mawkyrwat.
(ii) Construction of new Road from Mawkyrwat to Photjaud.
(iii) Mawkyrwat-Rangblang via Mawranglong.
|(iv) Mawkyrwat - Wahsiej.|
(v) Completion of Nongshillong, Jakrem Road.
(b) If so, when will the works be started?
Shri Darwin D. Pugh [Minister-in-charge, P.W.D. (R. and B.)] replied :
(i) - Yes.
(ii) - No.
(iii) - No.
(iv) - No.
(v) - Yes.
Works on item (i) and (v) will be taken up in the Fifth Plan.
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh asked :
Will the Minister-in-charge of Health be pleased to state-
(a) Whether it is a fact that Mawkyrwat Dispensary has been running without a Doctor for the last few months?
(b) Whether any action has been taken to fill up the vacant post?
(c) Whether Government proposes to establish a Dispensary at Balat and sub-Dispensaries at Manad and Rangthong.
Shri Sandford K. Marak (Minister of Health) replied :
(a) - Yes.
(b) - Yes. One Doctor has been appointed and posted at Mawkyrwat State Dispensary and it is expected that he will join shortly.
(c) - The question of establishing new dispensaries in the State as a whole is under consideration.
Let us pass to item No.2 Finance Minister to move.
VOTE ON-ACCOUNT GRANT
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Finance) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, on the recommendation of the Governor, I beg to move that an amount not exceeding Rs.8,17,28,800.00 be granted to the Governor in advance to defray the charges in respect of different Departments during the first quarter of the financial year ending the 31st March, 1975 under grants shown in the Schedule.
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. I have received two amendments. The first amendment stands in the name of Prof. M.N. Majaw, who is absent. The second amendment is to be moved by Shri F.K. Mawlot.
Shri F.K. Mawlot (Nongstoin S.T.) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that the total provision of Rs.8,89,05,600 under Vote-on-Account Grant at page 1 of the Vote-on-Account Budget be reduced to Rs.100, i.e., the amount of the whole vote-on-account budget of Rs.8,89,05,600 do stand reduced to Rs.100.
Mr. Speaker :- The Finance Minister has come up with a Vote-on-Account Grant of Rs.8,17,28,800 whereas the hon. Member has moved for the reduction of the amount of Rs.8,89,05,600, which also includes the charged expenditure. So, I rule that the cut motion is not in order. I put the main question before the House. The question the amount not exceeding Rs.8,17,28,100 be granted to the Governor in advance to defray the charges in respect on different Departments during the first quarter of the financial year ending the 31st March, 1975 under grants shown in the Schedule.
(The motion was carried by voice vote)
Introduction of the Meghalaya Appropriation (Vote-on-Account) Bill, 1974
Let us pass on to item No.3. The Finance Minister to move.
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Finance Minister) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg leave to introduce the Meghalaya Appropriation (Vote-on-Account) Bill, 1974.
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. Now I put the main question before the House. The question is that leave be granted to the Minister-in-charge to introduce the Meghalaya Appropriation (Vote-on-Account) Bill, 1974.
(The motion is carried by voice vote and leave was granted)
Before I call upon the Finance Minister to move that the Bill be introduced, let me read a W. T. Message from the Special Secretary to the Governor at Kohima.
MESSAGE FROM THE GOVERNOR
"Following recommendations for introduction and consideration of the Meghalaya Appropriation (Vote-on-Account) Bill, 1974 and the Meghalaya Appropriation (No.1) Bill, 1974, by the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly have been signed by the Governor and are reproduced below: one:
Governor's Secretariat, Raj Bhavan, Kohima.
"In exercise of the powers conferred by clause (1) of Article 207 of the Constitution of India, I, Lallan Prasad Singh, Governor of Meghalaya, hereby recommend to the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly the introduction of the Meghalaya Appropriation (Vote-on-Account) Bill, 1974.
|Sd/- LALLAN PRASAD SINGH,|
|Governor of Meghalaya,|
|Raj Bhavan, Kohima.|
|24th March, 1974."|
The Minister-in-charge of Finance may now introduce the Bill.
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Finance) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to introduce the Bill.
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. Now I put the question before the House. The question is that the Meghalaya Appropriation (Vote-on-Account) Bill, 1974, be introduced.
(The motion was carried by voice vote)
(The Secretary read out the title of the Bill)
Shri H. Hadem (Mynso-Raliang S.T.) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, we did not receive the Bill.
Mr. Speaker :- The Bill will now be distributed to the Members. Before the Finance Minister moves the next motion, I will read the communication from the Governor which is in connection with the above W. T. message, "Two - Governor's Secretariat, Raj Bhavan, Kohima.
"In exercise of the powers conferred by Clause (3) of Article 207 of the Constitution of India, I, Lallan Prasad Singh, Governor of Meghalaya, hereby recommend to the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly the consideration of the Meghalaya Appropriation (Vote-on-Account) Bill, 1974.
|Sd/- LALLAN PRASAD SINGH,|
|Governor of Meghalaya,|
|Raj Bhavan, Kohima.|
|24th March, 1974."|
The Finance Minister may now move the motion.
Shri Maham Singh (Mawprem) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, on a point of clarification. This is, if I understand correctly, only a W.T. Message of the Governor. Whether it is to be taken as a message duly signed by the Governor ?
Mr. Speaker :- Yes, as duly recommended by the Governor.
Shri Akrammozzaman (Phulbari) :- I want a clarification. Mr. Speaker, Sir. There is a discrepancy in the figure under the Meghalaya Appropriation (Vote-on-Account) Bill, 1974, and the figure in the demand for advance grants. So, Sir, I wish to know that while it is shown here as Rs.8,89,05,690 why the amount of Rs.8,17,28,800 is shown.
Mr. Speaker :- The amount to be voted by the Assembly is what has already been moved by the Finance Minister but the total amount sought to be re-appropriated though the Bill includes also the charged expenditure.
Prof. M.N. Majaw (Mawhati S.T.) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I think the error arose because we were actually informed by your Secretariat that the total sum, when moving these amendments ....
Mr. Speaker :- Prof. Majaw, it means out of the total amount to be voted by the Assembly but the total does not include the charged expenditure. This is also shown in the schedule as presented. Since we have come to this stage, I will allow the hon. members to seek some clarifications only.
*Shri Akrammozzaman :- This is a withdrawal from the consolidated Fund. So it is given from the charged amount and the balance will be drawn from where it is not known.
Mr. Speaker :- You may read Article 207 of the Constitution where it is clearly defined what is the charged expenditure and what is the amount to be voted by the Assembly.
*Prof. M.N. Majaw :- May we know if we have come to the consideration stage?
Mr. Speaker :- The Minister, Finance, is yet to move for consideration.
*Prof. M.N. Majaw :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would prefer with your permission to speak in general on the Bill when the Minister Finance has moved for consideration.
Mr. Speaker :- It will be better if you seek clarification at this stage otherwise when the Minister will move for consideration, clause by clause and when there is no amendment, there will be no scope. It is at this stage that you can seek clarification.
*Prof. M.N. Majaw :- I do not want to enter into any controversy but as far as the rule goes I think we are not allowed to go into all the details of the amount as such and I do not seek clarification as such. But I would only like to make some general remarks upon some of the Departments which are covered by this Vote on Account advance grant .
Nor, Mr. Speaker, Sir, as I have said earlier, we are not allowed to enter into the details of the grant. It has been laid down clearly that the Vote-on-Account is meant for one month only under extraordinary circumstances. But this Vote-on-Account is for a period of three months. We have gone through the explanatory note given at the beginning of the Vote-on-Account budget. But we have failed to persuade - at least I myself with my little knowledge have failed to persuade myself to accept these explanatory notes as to why there should be a Vote-on-Account and not a regular budget. Besides, it was clearly laid down in the rules, and in the form of a point of order, I may refer to Rule 141, sub-rule (4), wherein it is stated "When a demand or any part of it relates to any new scheme or revision of scales of pay or allowances or creation of a new appointment, all material details of such scheme or revision or appointment shall as far as practicable be supplied to all the members at least five clear days before the demand is made. And this should be read, in my opinion, Mr. Speaker, Sir, together with Rule 150, sub-rule (4), where the rules are discussing a Vote-on-Account. The rule says "in other respects, a motion for Vote-on-Account shall be dealt within the same way as if it were a demand for grant."
Now, I have enquired from a few Departments of the Government of Meghalaya on some of the provisions in this Vote-on Account, of certain new schemes, which the Government of Meghalaya intends to introduce in the next Financial year. Such being the case, I claim that they fall within the purview of sub-rule (4) of Rule 141 whereby we have not been given five clear days in order to enter into the material details of this Vote-on-Account. The demand is being made today but the Vote on Account was placed on the Table of the House four days ago on 22nd March, 1974. Further, Mr. Speaker, Sir, may I point out that while on the 22nd March, the Finance Minister placed the supplementary demands for 1973-74 first and later the Vote-on-Account for 1974-75 instead. Now, we are being asked to pass the Vote-on-Account for 1974-75 which is yet to come and the supplementary demands of the dying year only tomorrow after this Vote-on-Account budget has been passed. It is something like selecting a name of an unborn child while the child that has been born has not yet been given a name. Now tomorrow we are to pass these supplementary demands and to-day we have asked to pass the Vote-on-Account grant for a year which is not yet born and which begins on the 1st of April. I feel that the Finance Ministry has presumed the permission of this House. Suppose tomorrow the House does not give the permission to these supplementary demands, then this Vote-on-Account will have to be readjusted to accommodate these supplementary demands which may be rejected tomorrow. How can the Finance Department presume that tomorrow automatically, because of the overwhelming majority of the Ruling Party, the supplementary demands will be passed as this Vote-on-Account will have to be readjusted to accommodate the sums which may not be passed tomorrow. So, I think that the order is not correct and that the Supplementary Demands for the dying year should have been brought before the House after the Vote-on-Account, that is, tomorrow.
Mr. Speaker :- The hon. Member has referred to Rule 141, which relates to the Budget and apart from that he read the relevant portion of the sub-rule (4) of Rule 150. It is true that normally the Vote-on-Account should be for one month. But it is also true that normally Vote-on-Account must be treated as supplementary budget. Let me read the relevant portion of the ruling of late G.N. Mavalankar that he made in the House of the people. He said, 'The grant of supply for the interim period on the Motion for Vote-on-Account is always treated as a formal one. It is like a motion for leave to introduce the Bill or the introduction of the Bill. I trust hon. Members will appreciate this position and treat Vote-on-Account as a formal Budget as if we have full opportunity to discuss the Demands for Grants in a detailed manner."
I think the hon. Member would seek clarification on some other points. But there is only one point which the hon. member had brought and that is, why should the Government come with the Vote-on-Account and that also for a period of three months. This is the only valid reason that the hon. member may press for a reply.
*Prof. M.N. Majaw :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, also the arrangement of priorities. The arrangements of priorities not only why there should not be a formal budget but why the supplementary demands have been postponed for the current year. Why the Vote-on-Account for the year which is not yet born is being proposed now.
Mr. Speaker :- Yes, will the Finance Minister reply?
*Prof M.N. Majaw :- Before the Finance Minister replies, may I crave your indulgence, Mr. Speaker, Sir, as there are a few points that may be raised in the general discussion of the Bill, would you permit that now?
Mr. Speaker :- This may be treated as a special case because in your absence this morning I would have allowed the Minister to move the demand. But since you are absent and since I want to respect the House and each and every Member, I will treat this as a special case not as a precedent. At present you may seek clarification before the Minister moves that the Bill be taken into consideration.
*Prof. M.N. Majaw :- Thank you, Mr. Speaker, Sir. Now there are certain items on which I would seek clarification. One of them is under the Revenue Department. Under this Department, I will not enter into the figures as it is debarred under the Rules.
Mr. Speaker :- These are the matters of details.
*Prof. M.N. Majaw :- But Mr. Speaker, Sir, this is the fag end of the year and money is being surrendered in some cases and suddenly utilised in some cases. This has become a very sad case to us. Under Revenue Department a sum of about 3 lakhs of Rupees.
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Finance) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am constrained to put some objection on this discussion. The hon. Member may have the opportunity to discuss fully through his proposed amendments. But those amendments have gone by default.
Mr. Speaker :- But there is no bar for the hon. Member as he wants to seek clarification only.
*Prof. M.N. Majaw :- Thank you, Mr. Speaker, Sir. There was a sum of Rs.3 lakhs which was postponed for the purchase of materials by the Revenue Department and one local tribal firm applied and a number of other outside firms also applied. But suddenly the Officer on Special Duty without the permission of the Secretary, Revenue and without the permission of the Deputy Secretary, Revenue issued the orders already to the Rajathanis Firms, Calcutta, K. R. Company for which a sum of Rs.2 lakhs at the fag end of the year was involved. But the local tribal Firm, who has also applied was denied justice. So I beg the Minister to look into this, and if possible, to halt or counter the orders. Further, Sir on P.W.D. I wish to seek the help of the Government.
Mr. Speaker :- Actually these are matters of details which you may have time to discuss at the time of presentation of the normal Budget.
*Prof. M.N. Majaw :- At this time since the Finance Minister holds the purse string, he may be able to do justice to the people.
Mr. Speaker :- I request the hon. member to meet the Minister-in-charge of Revenue in his Chamber and discuss this issue.
*Prof. M.N. Majaw :- Well there is another issue, Mr. Speaker, Sir, of a similar type on the Public Works Department. We have been often told to give specific instances and I have typed out and placed on the Table of the House, that one new Sub divisional Officer Mechanical Division who was posted at Tura incurred lakhs of rupees without the permission of the Minister. This thing I want to get clarification from the Public Works Department. Then Mr. Speaker, Sir, there are cases of teachers of Education Department who have not received their salaries. These are teachers of Garo Hills schools and there is one school which was opened by the Chief Minister.
Mr. Speaker :- Prof. Majaw that question was also answered by the Minister on the previous days. It appears that you will once again go into details which, I am afraid, will not be allowed. So, I call upon the Finance Minister. But before that Mr. Maham Singh might have got something to say. Mr. Maham Singh do you have anything?
Shri Maham Singh :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I want to seek only one clarification. In the Vote-on-Account Budget, it is mentioned that there are two reasons that the general Budget cannot be presented in time. Now Mr. Speaker, Sir, the first point is that a new system of budgeting has been included and therefore, there has been delay in presenting the Budget. In this connection, I want to say that other States have been able to present their budget in time in spite of the fact that a new system has been introduced. So I would like to say that here also a general Budget may be presented in spite of the new system introduced.
Mr. Speaker :- I think Mr. Maham Singh, you have had full opportunity to discuss this in the Business Advisory Committee meeting in which you were also present. I had explained to the Committee the difficulty in presenting a regular Budget this year. Now I ask the Finance Minister to reply all the points raised by Prof. Majaw.
Shri Maham Singh :- Yes, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I was present in the meeting of the Business Advisory Committee. But I want to seek the clarification for the benefit of the House now.
Mr. Speaker :- It is the same thing that has been raised by Prof. Majaw. Now Finance Minister.
*Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Finance) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, the points raised are more or less of a technical nature. But all points are not on the merits of the case. I have not heard any reasons advanced by the hon. Member who raised these points that are contrary to presenting the Vote-on-Account. The summary remarks given here, I would submit, Mr. Speaker, Sir, are very very convincing as they pertain so much to the technicality of the matter. That is why the Vote-on-Account is necessary at this time to be presented to the House. But I feel that the House, Mr. Speaker, Sir, should be guided not be criticism alone, but by some valuable constructive suggestions to be given by the members or by advancing some alternative suggestions, to the one that was presented by the Government. I have not heard any reasonable suggestion being advanced by the hon. Members who raised these points. So, Mr. Speaker, Sir, this is very bad for the country, very bad for the State as a whole. The reason why it is bad is that nothing has been said on the merits or demerits of the case and that at the fag-end of the year nothing is said about the merits or demerits that the full-fledged Budget could not be presented at this time or next month or next quarter of the year. These are only necessary interruptions on the part of the hon. Members who have raised these points. So, it is not from the merit point of view that this is not good, not desirable or not proper for the Budget to be presented at this time. However, if the hon. members will go through the remarks carefully they will be fully convinced of the desirability of the Vote-on-Account to be presented this time. It is not a question of legal compunction. It is not stated here that it is impossible to present the full-fledged Budget at this time. We have stated simply from the merit point of view that it is necessary to bring the Vote-on-Account because of two factors entering into the situation at this time. One is the factor that we would like to present the budget in a new system of budgeting which has been issued by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. Not only that, but we have received proper instructions and therefore we have to consider this as a topmost priority. If we work very hurriedly upon those instructions we may not be able to find out a concrete picture as to how to introduce this new system. Therefore, we would like to have it thoroughly examined and thoroughly studied. And we thought perhaps, that in the next 2 or 3 months the system would be properly examined and we will be able to present a regular budget. Besides that, the system is to be properly classified and sent for printing which also requires considerable period of time. As such Mr. Speaker, Sir, it is not on the basis of merit or a matter of integrity or a matter of impossibility that we have not been able to have a regular budget session this time.
Now, we come to the second factor which is also a very important factor. When we were in the composite State of Assam, we have received complaints from the District Councils that the provision of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India duly requires that the budget before it is presented to the Assembly, any part relating to the District should be placed in the District Council for a full discussion. And for any discussion to be considered and to be placed by the Government inside the Assembly, the District Councils also should have sufficient time for discussion, under para 13 of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. We have had several complaints when we were in the composite State of Assam that the Government used to send the district budget to the District Councils within a few days before presenting the budget to the Assembly. This procedure is not tenable as it needs practical implications also. Whatever discussion the Government may have on any particular purpose, the District Councils also should have the same role to play and sometimes to make suggestions whenever necessary as well as to criticise the policy of the Government on its budgetary matters which is just a paper compliance of the provision of the Sixth Schedule. In this respect, we have suggested that in view of the fact that the financial position and the annual plans for 1974-75 are under consideration by the Planning Commission, it will not be possible to make a forecast of the overall estimates for the various departments of the State. Due to these impregnable difficulties, we would like to give sufficient time for a full discussion on the budget by the District Councils relating to their district expenditure, etc. If we rush in for a full-fledged Budget Session we will have no time even to send the district budgets to the respective District Councils. Therefore, we thought of having this Vote-on-Account Budget as it will take only two or three months for us to come with a full-fledged Budget in the first or second part of June. For these reasons which I have stated we thought of coming with this Vote-on-Account as there is no question of merits on the plea that it is so bad for the State, so bad for the administration to have this Vote-on-Account Budget. From the Government side also we have been compelled by circumstances that it is best and desirable and good at this time to present this Vote-on-Account for three months. After we have completed all those formalities then we will have a full-fledged budget in the month of June.
Mr. Speaker :- After having the explanation of the Finance Minister regarding the provision of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution under para 13, it appears to me that some very intricate matters are involved in this case. If the Finance Minister discloses any budget document outside before it is presented to this House, it may tantamount to a breach of privilege of this House. But the Government is bound by the Para 13 of the Sixth Schedule to make available to the District Councils for discussion those of the estimated receipts and expenditures pertaining to the District Council before such an annual financial statements can be incorporated in the State budget. Although nobody has raised this point on the floor of the House, I think it is my duty as a Presiding Officer of this august body to request the Government to examine this issue thoroughly and consider what can be done to obviate this difficulty. As a matter of fact it was only on consideration of this time consuming procedure that I endorsed the view of the Government to come forward with a Vote-on-Account budget. I think it would be very wise if the House can summon the Advocate General to explain to the House the Constitutional implications of Para 13. Before the House proceeds further on this issue, if possible, the Advocate General may be summoned during this Session itself perhaps, on the 30th or on the 1st of April, 1974.
*Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am very much familiar with this Para 13 of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India. In fact, on this issue, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I had the occasion to raise this question when we were in the composite State of Assam. The date for presentation of the budget has been fixed for the State of Assam but the information pertaining to the Garo Hills Autonomous district was not yet sent as required under the provision of Para 13 of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. Therefore, the question raised by me was that there is a violation of the constitutional provision. Fortunately, as I have stated earlier at Tura itself, at least just for one or two days before the budget is presented the estimates pertaining to the Autonomous Garo Hills District were received and whether that will tantamount to leakage or not. That is a different thing. But so far my knowledge goes, the estimates and expenditure in respect of the Autonomous Garo Hills District were sent to the Chairman of the Council with a mark 'Confidential'. Well Sir, any important matter of the Government may be treated as confidential - that is the procedure of the Government. Since this is a constitutional matter and unless this Para 13 of the Sixth Schedule is suitably amended I think a controversy may arise on this matter.
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Finance) :- May I make a suggestion Mr. Speaker, Sir, that the issue raised by you is very very interesting.
Mr. Speaker :- It is pertinent and it was raised in the Business Advisory Committee.
*Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Finance) :- That is a very important issue. It seems to be in conflict with Para 13, in conflict with the Rules of the House. I would therefore suggest that since it is a very important issue, we should have a full time to study and examine this thoroughly. It may not do any harm if we will not present it just now as we thought; we will have another three months' time before we can send the district budget to the District Councils. In the next Budget Session, of course, we would first of all have a complete understanding of this together with the Hon'ble Speaker of this House.
Mr. Speaker :- I think that will meet the situation as it is today.
Shri H. Hadem :- But you have already fixed that on Saturday.
Mr. Speaker :- I said that by way of my observation that it may be on such and such day.
*Shri F. K. Mawlot :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, regarding the second point the Finance Minister has not made any reply to the order of priority when tomorrow we will have another discussion on the supplementary demand.
Mr. Speaker :- The Supplementary Demand and the Vote-on-Account.
Shri H. Hadem :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, that question does no longer arise because on the 20th instant the Speaker has announced the report of the Business Advisory Committee along with the calendar and this has been approved.
Mr. Speaker :- Yes, I was about to say the same thing. But if you are persistent, it means that you are challenging the order papers which have already been arrived at and which the House has adopted on the first day.
Shri F. K. Mawlot :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, as we are passing the Vote-on-Account today, what is the necessity of having the supplementary demand tomorrow?
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Finance ) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, that is for regularising the expenditure.
Shri F. K. Mawlot :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, what will happen tomorrow if the Supplementary Demand will not be passed?
Mr. Speaker :- The Government cannot spend the amount before the 31st March, 1974. That is hypothetical. Now, the Finance Minister may move that the Meghalaya Appropriation (Vote-on-Account) Bill, 1974, be taken into consideration.
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Finance) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that the Meghalaya Appropriation (Vote-on-Account) Bill, 1974, be taken into consideration.
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. Now I put the main question before the House. The question is that the Meghalaya Appropriation (Vote-on-Account) Bill, 1974, be taken consideration. The Motion is carried.
Now, since there is no amendment to the Bill, the Finance Minister may move the Bill, be passed.
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Finance) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that the Meghalaya Appropriation (Vote-on-Account) Bill, 1974, be passed.
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. Now I put the main question before the House. The question is that the Meghalaya Appropriation (Vote-on-Account) Bill, 1974, be taken consideration. The Motion is carried and the Bill is passed.
Motion under Rule 301
Now let us pass on to item No.4 in today's List of Business. Before I call upon Prof. M.N. Majaw to raise discussion under Rule 301 of the Rules of Procedures and Conduct of Business of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly, I would like to remind the House that this matter of holding of the Municipal Election in Shillong has been discussed thoroughly during the debate on the Governor's Address to which the Chief Minister has also replied. But if Prof. Majaw would like to raise a few more points for clarification, he may do so.
*Prof. M.N. Majaw :- Thank you, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am also aware of the fact that this matter has been discussed. But there are a few points which I would like to say in order to restore the balance. My view and also the view of others is that the democratic rights of the people must be recognised and upheld.
Mr. Speaker :- The democratic rights of the people in general or only the tax payers.
*Prof. M.N. Majaw :- Those who are eligible as voters for whom the electoral rolls are yet to be prepared.
Mr. Speaker :- So what is your definition of democracy, let us be more academic.
*Prof. M.N. Majaw :- If you make it a political science, then Mr. Speaker, Sir, there will be no end to it. Mr. Speaker, Sir, thousands and thousands of people in Shillong who are the tax payers and who are entitled to have a set of representatives of their own choosing should not be denied the right to vote. The Assam Municipal Act of 1956 has clearly laid down that Municipal Election should be held once in four years. The election was due in 1972 but further time has been extended upto 1973. It is a fact that now we have the Chief Executive Officer who is a very efficient man, no doubt, but as has been pointed out earlier, that is not the excuse to the people as to deprive them of their democratic rights. At the same time, I recognise certain problems which have to be overcome before holding of the election. One of the problems is the preparation of the electoral rolls. The electoral rolls of the past are certainly not the same today. There has been a big exodus of population to other parts of the country and the influx of the persons into this State, Town or Cities. Now while on the one hand we try our best to give utmost assistance to finish the enumeration of names in the electoral rolls on the other hand, we find that the Government has included the names of those who are still foreigners who pose themselves as citizens of the State, these persons who have come from elsewhere do not hesitate to claim themselves as citizens of this town. I think there are about 30,000 of them.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- Mr. Speaker Sir, I would like to seek clarification from the hon. Member on the nationality of these 30,000 foreigners whom he referred to in his speech.
*Prof. M.N. Majaw :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, it is a very delicate subject to enter into because I am sure the Chief Minister himself is not in the dark. Through the Government machinery, he knows that there are persons who came to the State two years ago and there is no fool-proof about it.
Shri Maham Singh :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, on a point of clarification. May we know from which part of the world these foreigners came?
*Prof. M.N. Majaw :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, they were from the erstwhile country of Pakistan. There is no fool-proof by which one can distinguish them.
During the last few years about 30,000 persons infiltrated into the State and there is no proof for that and the Government may deny it. We have given our views to the Deputy Commissioner and others who are taking the enumeration of voters on this. We hope that in this way we can to a certain extent weed out these persons but such things should not be discussed in public. There are other ways also by which we can weed out these persons.
Secondly, as rightly pointed out, there has been exodus of persons who move down to the plains of Assam consequent on the shifting of the capital. So I would like to qualify my statement by saying that while on the one hand the Municipal Election should be held as soon as possible in conformity with the rights of the tax-payers and at the same time to prepare the electoral rolls with great care because there are names which have not been entered and there are also names which have been wrongly entered in the electoral rolls.
Mr. Speaker :- It is only a matter of suggestion which the Government must take into consideration. Now I do not think that it is necessary for the Government to give a reply to it. As I have told the Government will take into consideration your suggestion and the suggestions of all other hon. Members.
Mr. Speaker :- Now since there is no other business of the House, the House stands adjourned till 9.00 a.m. tomorrow the 27th March, 1974.
|R. T. RYMBAI,|
|Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.|