Ball in Guv’s court on CDF, Speaker wants it to continue

After Assembly, House Committees too suspended

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, June 28: As the Legislative Assembly has been kept under suspended animation following imposition of Governor’s rule in the State, all House Committees and other kind of Panels in the Lower House involving MLAs have also been suspended while Speaker Dr Nirmal Singh had supported continuation of Constituency Development Fund (CDF) of the MLAs and taken up the issue with the Government on the ground that it would help in carrying out political activities in the State.
Official sources told the Excelsior that all Committees in the Legislative Assembly, whose members happened to be the MLAs, including Privilege Committee, Assurance Committee, Estimates Committee and other House Committees, set up by the Speaker, have been suspended.
“The MLAs have been told that they ceased to exist as members of these Committees in view of the Legislative Assembly being kept under suspended animation by Governor NN Vohra after assuming powers of the State Government on June 19 when Jammu and Kashmir was brought under the spell of Governor’s rule in the State following withdrawal of support by the BJP to Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP Government,” sources said.
They added that all Committees involving the MLAs including the Select Committees and Joint Select Committees to which legislations are referred for consideration have been dissolved.
The Legislative Assembly’s powers of drafting legislations etc have already been assumed by the Governor.
Meanwhile, sources said, the Government is likely to come out soon with an order on whether the MLAs can utilize their CDF or not.
Legislative Assembly Speaker Dr Nirmal Singh has taken up the issue with the Government to allow use of CDF by the MLAs on the ground that it will help the State in continuing political activities in the State.
“Wherever a MLA goes, there is demand from the public for taking up of small projects/works for development. Therefore, there was a need to continue with the CDF,” sources said, adding, otherwise, the MLAs will be rendered powerless and won’t be able to carry out much political activity in their constituencies, which was need of the hour in the absence of elected Government.
The MLAs have entitlement to Rs 3 crore CDF every year.
Justifying the need to continue with the CDF, sources said the Legislative Assembly has only been kept under suspended animation and not dissolved. In view of this, the MLAs enjoyed the protocol they have and, therefore, they should be entitled to the CDF, which would help in giving boost to developmental works in their Assembly constituencies.
A debate has been going on in the political circles on entitlement of CDF by the MLAs with some of the political parties favouring that it should continue even when the Assembly is under suspended animation while others calling for immediately stopping it on the ground that when the House has been suspended, there is no fun of providing Rs 3 crore worth CDF to the MLAs.
However, according to sources, the MLCs will continue to have the privilege of using CDF as the Legislative Council is not kept under suspended animation like the Assembly. Present strength of the Council is 34 including the Chairman as there are two vacancies from the quota of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), which had ceased to exist in March 2010 and since then elections to them haven’t been held.
There are 89 members of the Legislative Assembly including 87 elected and two Nominated women. Of them, PDP has 28, BJP 25, National Conference 15, Congress 12, People’s Conference 2, CPM and PDF one each. There are three Independents. They accounted for Rs 267 crore worth CDF every year, sources pointed out.