The third session of the Tenth Assembly of Sikkim Legislative Assembly commenced today

Gangtok, September 21 (IPR): The third session of the Tenth Assembly of Sikkim Legislative Assembly commenced today. The session was held for one day due to prevailing situation of COVID-19. The session began with an important announcement by the Hon’ble Speaker, SLA Shri L. B. Das in the matter of Disqualification of 10(Ten) Members and 2 (Two) Members of the Tenth Sikkim Legislative Assembly under Article 191(2) and Para 2(1)(a) r/w 6(1) of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution of India, namely Shri D.T. Lepcha, Shri Ugen T. Gyatso, Shri. N. K. Subba Shri D. R.Thapa, Shri K. S. Lepcha, Shri K. B. Rai, Shri Pintso N. Lepcha, Shri T. T.Bhutia, Smt. Farwanti Tamang and Smt. Raj Kumari Thapa of Sikkim Democratic Front (Legislature Party) and Shri. Em Prasad Sharma and Shri. G.T. Dhungel of Sikkim Democratic Front (Legislature Party) who had submitted documents before the Speaker, Sikkim Legislative Assembly on 22/11/2019 and 27/11/2019 respectively stating that having duly comprised of 2/3rd Members have merged with the Bharatiya Janta Party (Legislature Party) and Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (Legislature Party).

Therefore with powers conferred upon the Speaker of the 10th Sikkim Legislative Assembly under paragraph 6(1) of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution of India r/w clauses 8 and 9 of the Member of Sikkim Legislative Assembly (Disqualification on Ground of Defection Rules, 1985 their petition was found satisfactory in the interest of the established anti-defection law and thus the merger was accepted.

Further the provisions of paragraph 2 (1)(a) of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution of India i.e. disqualification on the ground of defection if he has voluntarily given up his membership of such political party shall not be attracted upon them.

Consequent upon this decision seats are allotted to the Members along with the Members of Bharatiya Janta Party (Legislature Party) and Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (Legislature Party) respectively.

During the obituary reference, on the passing away of Late Smt. Hemlata Chettri, Speaker SLA, Shri L. B Das expressed that late Smt. Hemlata Chettri was the first woman MLA of Sikkim who passed away on 10th June, 2020 in Siliguri Hospital due to cardiac arrest. He said that Late Smt. Hemlata Chettri joined active politics after the 1973 revolution and was elected to the Sikkim Legislative Assembly in the year 1974 and served her full term as an MLA from 1974 to 1979 from the then Geyzing constituency.

Born in Temi Tarku, South Sikkim on 14th June 1955 to parents Shri. Dhan Bahadur Tiwari and Smt Amrita Tiwari, Late Smt. Hemlata Chettri has left behind her husband Shri. N.B Khatiwara, two sons and two daughters. Late Smt. Chettri completed her primary education from Temi Tarku and high school from Pelling West Sikkim. She pursued her graduation from Kalimpong College.

After serving as the first woman MLA for one term, Late Smt. Chettri resigned from active politics and joined social service. Subsequently, she opted for Government service and served as Secretary, Social Welfare Board till 2013. She continued to remain active in various organizations like the Balika Niketan, National Blind School, mostly working for the welfare and upliftment of women and children. In the year 2000, the State Government conferred the prestigious ‘Role of Honour’ upon Late Smt. Hemlata Chettri in honour of her notable contribution to society.

The Hon’ble Speaker said that the passing away of Late Smt. Hemlata Chettri has left a huge void in the Sikkimese society.

In his obituary reference on the passing away of Shri. Pranab Mukherjee, the 13th President of India, Hon’ble Speaker Shri. L.B. Das said that Late Shri. Mukherjee was a political stalwart and a rare leader in contemporary India. Born on December 11, 1935 in Birbhoom, West Bengal to father Shri Kamada Kinkar Mukherjee and mother Smt Rajlakshmi Mukherjee, Late Shri Pranab Mukherjee is remembered as one of the finest statesmen in the country. After completing his higher education from the University of Calcutta, late Shri. Mukherjee served in the office of the Deputy Accountant General. Subsequently, he joined as an Assistant Professor of Political Science in Vidya Sagar College in Calcutta in the year 1963. In the 70s, on the invitation of former Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi, he joined active politics and was elected to the Upper House of Parliament, where he served for four terms.

Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri Prem Singh Tamang in his obituary remarks described the passing away of Late Shri. Pranab Mukherjee as an irreparable loss to the nation. He outlined the illustrious political career of Late Shri. Mukherjee spanning over five decades, where he held key portfolios in the Union Cabinet. Late Shri. Mukherjee was the most trusted lieutenant to former Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi. Late Shri. Pranab Mukherjee went on to become the 13th President of India from the year 2012 to 2017, after which he retired from active public life citing health reasons. He breathed his last on the 31st of August, 2020 at the Army Research and Referral Hospital, New Delhi, due to multiple organ failure. He leaves behind two sons and a daughter.

Decorated with the Padma Vibhushan in 2008 and Bharat Ratna in 2018, Late Shri. Pranab Mukherjee will be remembered as one of the most astute political figure in the country. He had also visited Sikkim twice in the year 2013.

The Hon’ble Chief Minister condoling the demise of the former President of India expressed deep sorrow and said that an era has come to an end.

The Hon’ble Chief Minister also condoled the passing away of Late Smt. Hemlata Chettri, the first woman MLA of Sikkim, who passed away in Siliguri on the 10th of June, 2020. The Hon’ble Chief Minister said that the former legislator left an indelible mark both as public representative and later as a noted social worker. He shared that Late Smt. Hemlata Chettri was conferred with the ‘Role of Honour’ by the Government of Sikkim in the year 2000. She was also awarded the Best Performing Legislator Award in 2016 for her notable contribution as the lone woman legislator of Sikkim Legislative Assembly from 1974 to 1979.

The Hon’ble Chief Minister expressed his heartfelt condolences to the family of Late Smt. Hemlata Chettri and prayed for her soul.

The Hon’ble Chief Minister expressed his deep sorrow and anguish over the passing away of Late Smt. Basanti Sundas, Assistant Nursing Superintendent in STNM Hospital who lost her battle against COVID-19 on the 18th of September, 2020. He said that the State has lost a brave warrior who never shied away from serving the people through her noble profession. He said that the Government is pained at her death as she was the first health worker who lost her life to the virus. He said that the services of Late Smt. Sundas will always be remembered. She has left behind her husband and two sons. The Hon’ble Chief Minister extended his heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family of Late Smt. Basanti Sundas.

The Hon’ble Chief Minister also paid his tribute to all the people in the State who have lost their lives batting with COVID-19 and said that the Government stands in solidarity with their families and loved ones.

The Hon’ble Chief Minister made a special mention of the selfless service of all the COVID-19 frontline warriors.

The Obituary Reference was also participated by members Smt Raj Kumari Thapa and Shri D.R. Thapa.

The House observed two minutes silence as a mark of respect to the departed souls.

During the Financial Business, Hon’ble Chief Minister, also the Minister-in-Charge of Finance Department presented the First Supplementary Demands for Grants for the Financial Year 2020-21.

The first batch of Supplementary Demands for Grants for 2020-21 includes 34 grants, with a gross additional expenditure of Rs. 45123.63 lakh comprising of Rs. 25422.02 lakh on revenue account and Rs 19701.61 lakh on capital account.

The first supplementary demands for grants 2020-21 was voted and passed by the House.

In the Legislative Business, two new Bills, six amendments bills and one appropriation Bill were introduced and passed by the House.

Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri Prem Singh Tamang, also the Minister-in-Charge of Finance Department introduced the Sikkim Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (Amendment) Bill, Bill No. 11 of 2020.

The Statement of objects and reasons of the Bill states that the State Government felt it expedient to amend the Sikkim Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2010 in view of the decision of Government of India to allow additional borrowing to the state up to 2% of GSDP in the current year 2020-21 to offset fiscal hardship caused on the resources of the State Government due to the serious negative effect of COVID-19.

The Bill was taken into consideration and passed by the House.

Likewise, Hon’ble Minister-in-Charge of Urban Development Department, Shri. Arun Upreti introduced the Sikkim Municipalities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, Bill No. 16 of 2020.

The Statement of objects and reasons of the Bill states that it has been considered expedient to amend the Sikkim Municipalities Act, 2007 (Act No. 5 of 2007) inter alia, to provide for deferment of the Municipality election in the event of certain unprecedented exigencies like the ongoing COVID -19 pandemic situation and also to provide for provision to make Municipalities elections apolitical. It is felt necessary to bring amendment in Section 12 and insertion of new section 14A in the Sikkim Municipalities Act, 2007 (Act. No. 5 of 2007).

The Bill was taken into consideration and passed by the House.

Similarly, Hon’ble Minister-in-Charge of Education Department Shri Kunga Nima Lepcha introduced the Khangchendzonga Buddhist University, Sikkim, Bill, Bill No. 15 of 2020.

The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill states to promote knowledge, understanding and growth in all members of the community by providing reflective educational opportunities as well as research opportunities and by promoting and creating innovative educational models in higher education, to focus on developing professional competence in emerging area of business by establishing a Buddhist University by providing innovative and high quality programmes and training in Buddhist studies, Education, Vocational Domains, Liberal Arts, Social Sciences, Science and Engineering, Hospitality and Tourism, Architecture, Medicine and related areas, it has been propose to establish a Private University in Sikkim by the name of “Khangchendzonga Buddhist University.”

While replying to the query put forward by Member Shri. Sonam Venchungpa, Minister Shri. Kunga Nima Lepcha said that the University will be affiliated with the University Grants Commission (UGC) once it is established and functioning.

The Bill was considered and passed by the House.

The Sikkim Essential Services Maintenance (Amendment) Bill, 2020, Bill No. 18 of 2020 was introduced in the House by Hon’ble Chief Minister on behalf of the Minister-in-Charge of Labour Department.

The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill states that it is deemed expedient to make provisions for ensuring uninterrupted manufacturing, packaging, distribution and transportation of pharmaceutical products and components thereof, as they are the life saving drugs and medicines.

The Bill was considered and passed by the House.

Hon’ble Chief Minister, also the Minister-in-Charge of Finance Department introduced the Sikkim Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2020, Bill No. 10 of 2020.

The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill states that in the view of the spread of pandemic COVID-19, across many countries of the world including India, causing immense loss to lives and livelihood, the Government of India through an Ordinance had relaxed certain provisions, including extension of time, in the taxation and other laws including the Central Goods and Services Tax Act 2017 (CGST Act) 2017. Hence, further corresponding amendment are also required to be carried out under the respective SGST Acts of the States, including Sikkim.

The Sikkim Goods and Services Act, 2017 has been proposed for amendment by the way of bringing the Sikkim Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2020 for amending certain provisions of the Act.

This amendment Bill is additionally intended to update the State SGST Act based on the recommendation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council, and related amendments incidental to the CGST Act passed by the Government of India.

The Bill was considered and passed by the House.

Similarly, Hon’ble Minister-in-Charge of Transport Department Shri Sanjit Kharel introduced the Sikkim Motor Vehicles Taxation (Amendment) Bill, 2020, Bill No. 17 of 2020.

The Statement of objects and reasons of the Bill states that in order to facilitate the general public of Sikkim, the State Government has deemed it expedient to bring about an amendment in the Sikkim Motor Vehicles Taxation Act 1982, by giving a rebate of 20% on payment of a one-time tax consisting a single/lump sum amount payable of the existing annual tax for 5 (five) years at a time for all categories of vehicles. This amendment of providing an incentive of 20% rebate would encourage the public to pay the one-time tax for five years at a time. This would spare the public from the trouble of coming to the Regional Transport Office every year and would reduce the footfall in the Regional Transport Offices. The amendment also provides flexible option of paying the tax for 1 (one) or more quarterly periods, or annually or one-time tax @ 5 (five) times of the annual tax either directly at the Regional Transport Office or through online payment via electronic medium.

The Bill was considered and passed by the House.

Hon’ble Minister-in-Charge of Education Department Shri Kunga Nima Lepcha introduced the Board of Open Schooling & Skill Education, Sikkim, 2020 Bill No. 14 of 2020.

The statement of objects and reasons states that the crucial role of universal school education along with skills and vocational education for strengthening the social fabric of democracy through provision of equal opportunity to all has been accepted since inception of our republic. Over the years there has been significant spatial and numerical expansion of schools in the country, yet the goal of providing education to all continues to elude. The number of children particularly children from disadvantage groups, weaker sections and children from border and hilly areas, who drop out of school before completing school education, remains very large. Moreover, the quality of learning achievement is not always entirely satisfactory even in the case of children who complete elementary, secondary and senior secondary education.

ii. In order to enhance the infrastructural support to cater to the needs of growing number of students in the field of school education at secondary and senior secondary level in general and in the area of skill and vocational education in particular, it is felt necessary to involve public private participation and partnership to improve literacy, enhance and accelerate the enrolment/retention of students and to attain universalisation of school education, vocational education in the State. It is also deemed essential, to create a mechanism to provide for secondary education, senior secondary education, skill and vocational education up-to pre- degree level so as to create and provide opportunity for continuing education to those who have missed opportunity to complete school and development education for adult neo-literates, working men and women to reinforce their functional literacy and not to allow them to relapse into illiteracy and other children/persons desirous of pursuing school level education, skill and vocational education by offering courses and programmes of general education/life enrichment and vocational and skill education.

iii. In order to achieve the aforesaid, it is expedient and necessary to establish the Board of Open Schooling and Examination in the State of Sikkim to provide school education, skill and vocational education through all possible modes including face to face mode, flexible mode, open and distance learning mode and e-learning /online mode with a view to comprehensively enhance the access to education, to upscale the activities and to provide opportunities to the learners in all possible ways so as to provide ample access to sustainable learner-centric quality school education, skill up gradation and training to learners by using innovative technologies and methodologies of learning and imparting education.

The Bill was considered and passed by the House.

Likewise, the Sikkim Forests, Water Courses and Road Reserve (Preservation and Protection) (Amendment) Bill, 2020, Bill No. 13 of 2020 was introduced in the House by Hon’ble Chief Minister on behalf of the Minister-in-Charge of Forest and Environment Department.

The Statement of Object and reasons of the Bill states that the Sikkim Forests, Water Courses and Road Reserve (Preservation and Protection) Act, 1988, herein after referred to as the said Act, was enacted to strengthen the law relating to forests, the transit of forest produce and the duty leviable on timber and other forest produce.

The said Act, in clause (o) of section 2, defines “tree” which includes bamboos, brushwood, cane, banana, kernels, stumps, trees and palms. The bamboo though a grass is treated as tree for the purpose of said Act and therefore, attracts the requirement of permit for felling and transit under the said Act. The State of Sikkim has exempted the felling permission for bamboos within the state but the inter-state movement of bamboos requires permit when being in transit through other states. Due to this, farmers/growers are facing hardships in getting permits for transits of bamboos for outside the state, which has caused a major hindrance to the farmers/growers in cultivation of bamboo in their private land.

Further, the central government has amended the relevant section 2 of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 by omitting the word “bamboos” from the definition of “trees” and there is also a direction from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India to all the North East States to carry out necessary amendment(s) in the State Forest Act accordingly.

Hence, in compliance with the above said direction, it has been decided to amend clause (o) of section 2 the Sikkim Forest, Water Courses and Road Reserve[Preservation and Protection] Act, 1988 so as to omit the word “bamboos” from the definition of trees, in order to exempt bamboos cultivated on private and other non-forest areas from the requirement of permit for felling or transit under the said Act, which will encourage bamboo plantation by farmers or cultivators resulting in the enhancement of their income from fields.

The Bill was considered and passed by the House.

The House also passed the Sikkim Appropriation Bill, 2020, Bill No. 12 of 2020 for the First Supplementary Demands for Grants for the Financial year 2020-21, which was introduced in the House by Hon’ble Chief Minister, also the Minister-in-Charge of Finance Department.

The bill has been framed to provide for the appropriation from and out of the consolidated fund of the state of Sikkim of the money required to meet the expenditure charged in the consolidated funds of the State of Sikkim and supplementary grants made by the Sikkim Legislative Assembly for the expenditure of the Government of Sikkim for the remaining part of the financial year 2020-21.

Thereafter, the Hon’ble Chief Minister, also the Minister-in-Charge of Finance Department presented the Audit Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India on State Finances for the year ended March 2019 (Report No. 1 of 2020).

The Hon’ble Speaker also presented the Annual Reports of Government Departments in the House.

While presenting his valedictory remarks, Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri Prem Singh Tamang thanked the Speaker, Dy. Speaker, Members, Chief Secretary, DGP, Heads of various Departments, SLA Secretariat, Officials and staff for their presence and contribution to the session. The HCM also thanked all the COVID-19 front liners for handling the testing procedures ahead of the SLA session.

Hon’ble Speaker Shri L.B. Das while presenting his valedictory remarks thanked the Members for concluding the session in one day on the purview of COVID-19 pandemic. He also thanked all the individuals involved in the smooth holding of the one day session.

The Session came to an end with the Hon’ble Speaker adjourning the House Sine-Die.

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