The second day of the Seventh Session of Tenth Assembly (Budget Session 2023-24) commenced on Thursday with the obituary reference on the demise of former Member of Sikkim Legislative Assembly, Late Shri Ugen Pintso Bhutia.
Speaker, Sikkim Legislative Assembly, Shri Arun K. Upreti, in his obituary reference, paid his condolences to the bereaved family of former MLA, Tashiding Constituency, late Ugen Pintso Bhutia, who left for his heavenly abode on 3rd May, 2023 at District Hospital, Gyalshing. He was 78.
Born on 6th February, 1945 to late Shri Kunzang Tenzing Kazi and late Smt. Chultim Kazini, late Ugen Pintso Bhutia is survived by his wife, three daughters, one son and grandchildren. He was popularly known as ‘Yap Jetha’.
He was elected consecutively for two terms of 1985-89 and 1989-94 as a member of SLA from Tashiding constituency as a candidate of Sikkim Sangram Parishad Party. During his tenure as MLA, Tashiding constituency witnessed many developmental works. He served as Chairman of State Bank of Sikkim, Power & Electricity Board and Sikkim Trading Corporation of Sikkim (STCS).
Chief Minister Shri Prem Singh Tamang, in his obituary reference, said that the passing away of the former MLA late Ugen Pintso Bhutia is a great loss for the people of Tashiding constituency and the society as a whole. He was a soft-spoken, kind-hearted, a dedicated social worker and a hardworking leader in his constituency, he added.
The Chief Minister offered his heartfelt condolences and expressed his empathy towards the family of the departed.
The obituary reference was also participated by Deputy Speaker, SLA, Shri Sangay Lepcha, Minister for Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Services Department, Shri Lok Nath Sharma, and MLA Shri Pawan Chamling.
Thereafter, two-minute silence was observed in the House to pay homage to the departed.
This was followed by the Question Hour session wherein several queries were raised by various MLAs in the House.
In reply to concerns put forth by MLA, Shri Pawan Kumar Chamling about the judgement of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Writ Petition No. 59/2013 & 1283/2021 delivered on 13th January, 2023 and subsequent enactment of the Finance Act, 2023 and insertion of the addition clauses (iv) & (v) to Section 10 (26AAA) in the Income Tax Act, 1961,
the Chief Minister, also the leader of the House, Shri Prem Singh Tamang, informed that the Government of Sikkim filed counter affidavits in the matter of Writ Petition (Civil) No. 59 of 2013, Association of Old Settlers of Sikkim and others vs. Union of India and others on 30th November, 2013 and on 6th April, 2019. Certified copies of relevant counter affidavits were placed before the House.
With reference to Writ Petition (Civil) No. 1283/2021- Rapden Lepcha and others vs. Union of India and another, the matter was tagged with Writ Petition (Civil) No. 59 of 2013 vide Order, dated: 31.01.2022 passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court.
In reply to the query raised by MLA Shri Pawan Chamling with regard to the status of the two resolutions passed on 9th February, 2013 and 10th April, 2023 in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly, the Chief Minister said both resolutions have been forwarded to the Government of India.
He stated that Resolution 1 of 2023 adopted on 9th February, 2023 was forwarded to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Finance and Resolution 2 of 2023 adopted on 10th April, 2023 was forwarded to the Ministry of Finance.
In reply to concerns raised by MLA Shri Pawan Chamling over his demand of making public the entire set of document and case files, the Chief Minister, also the leader of the House, said that no such requisition for any White Paper, documents and case files has been made by the Member in the House during the previous sessions.
Replying to the supplementary question raised by MLA Shri Pawan Chamling, the Chief Minister said that no clause of Article 371F has been violated and clause (iv) and (v) of Finance Act 2023 is only for income tax exemption.
“The Finance Bill amendment is only for the income tax purposes as per the Supreme Court order in no way impinges upon the definition of Sikkimese.”, he added.
With regard to concerns over the dilution of 371F, the Chief Minister also the Leader of the house Shri Prem Singh Tamang informed that the Supreme Court and the Prime Minister have assured that the identity of the Sikkimese is non-negotiable and that the old settlers are entitled for the Income Tax Exemption.
With the query set forth by MLA Shri D.R. Thapa on the status report of the fact-finding Committee constituted by the Government in connection with SPSC Examination held on January,2023, and the number of students appearing for the said exam, the Chief Minister also the Leader of the House informed the house that a High Powered Committee headed by Additional Chief Secretary, Shri R. Telang, was constituted to place all the aspiring candidates at an equal footing and to provide them an equal opportunity as well to avoid further loss of time of the candidates.
A total of 9,376 candidates have appeared for the exam out of which 7,439 candidates were present for Paper-I and 7,387 candidates were present for Paper II.
In reply to the supplementary question raised by MLA, Shri Pawan Chamling regarding the action taken up by SPSC in the combined recruitment examination wherein he questioned about the action taken by the State government held on January, 2023, the Chief Minister also the Leader of the House informed that the Committee has barred 8 students from appearing in the examination.
While replying to the question put forth by MLA Shri D.R. Thapa regarding the regularisation criteria of Temporary/Adhoc/MR/Contract Employees, the Chief Minister also the Leader of the House informed that the services of all the temporary employees who are continuously serving in the State Government on Work-charged/MR/Adhoc/Consolidated pay belonging to Group ‘C’ and ‘D’ category including Home Guards for 8 years or more as on 31st December of every calendar year may be considered for regularisation in the respective departments subject to availability of vacancies.
To the Supplementary question raised by MLA, Shri Pawan Chamling regarding the criteria for Adhoc recruitment, the Chief Minister also the Leader of the House informed that the employee should mandatorily hold a COI, Married/ Unmarried certificate, if married COI certificate of the spouse and an Employment Card.
The Question Hour was followed by discussion on the Motion of Thanks on the Governor’s address which presented in the House on the first day of the Budget Session on 17th May, 2023.
While participating in the discussion on the Motion of Thanks on the Governor’s address, MLA Shri Pawan Kumar Chamling, welcomed some of the programmes and policies initiated by the present government as laid down in the Governor’s address like the Bahini scheme and the initiation of saffron cultivation in Sikkim among others. He also made some suggestions before the House on strengthening the concept of effective and good governance in the State.
Welcoming the Governor’s address, MLA Shri Sonam Tshering Venchungpa also welcomed the decision of the SPSC committee in allowing all candidates who appeared for the preliminary examination for Sikkim Services (Combined Recruitment) Examination, 2022 to sit for the main examination, terming decision to be “natural justice”.
Replying to the discussion on Motion of Thanks on the Governor’s address, the Chief Minister extended gratitude to the MLAs for their valuable suggestions put forth and sought support from the members of the House in strengthening and promoting economic growth and development in the State.
During the discussion on the Annual Budget 2023-24, which was presented in the House on the first day of the Budget Session on 17th May 2023, several questions were raised by the MLAs in the House.
In reply to concerns put forth with regard to the Traffic congestion in Gangtok, the Chief Minister informed the house that the problems being faced by the general public is being taken up as top priority by the State government. Mini-Secretariat at Lumsey has also been proposed to contain the growing traffic congestion problem of Gangtok. Also, Ranipool/Ray Khola/Sichey alternative road is also being considered for de-congestion of the National highway.
Replying to query on the shortfall of the Budget, the Chief Minister replied that it was due to Central Taxes share and the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic. He assured the House that the Government is working to resolve the issue of the Sikkimese identity and ensured the tribal status of the 12 left out communities.
Further, he added on the utilization of educated youth to increase the per capita income of the State through Startup Scheme.
Thereafter, the House passed the Separate Demand for Grants of various departments for the Financial Year 2023-24 presented by:
i) Minister of , Agriculture Department; Horticulture Department; Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Services Department and Labour Department, Government of Sikkim, Shri L.N. Sharma
ii) Minister of Tourism & Civil Aviation and Commerce & Industries Department; Information and Public Relations and Printing and Stationeries Department, Government of Sikkim, Shri B.S. Panth
iii) Minister of Education Department; Law Department; Parliamentary Affairs Department; Land Revenue and Disaster Management Department, and Sports & Youth Affairs Department, Government of Sikkim, Shri K.N. Lepcha
iv) Minister of Urban Development Department and Food & Civil Supplies Department, Government of Sikkim, Shri L.B. Das
The House was then adjourned till 10 am tomorrow, 19th of May, 2023.
IPR GOS, 18 May 2023
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