In major relief to the people across the state, the Punjab Cabinet on Sunday approved to reduce the amount of interest from 15% per annum (simple interest) to 7.5 per annum (simple interest) to be charged on the amount of enhancement recoverable from allottees of Improvement Trust.
This decision was taken during a Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi here at Punjab Bhawan this afternoon.
In a bid to strictly enforce the implementation of Punjabi as compulsory subject for all students of 1st to 10th Class across the state, the Punjab Cabinet on Sunday approved amendment in Punjab Learning of Punjabi and Other Languages Act, 2008 to enhance the penalties from Rs. 25,000, Rs. 50,000 and Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 50,000, Rs. 1 lakh and Rs. 2 lakh respectively for contravening the provisions of the said Act.
The Cabinet also gave a go ahead to introduce this Bill in the current session of Punjab Vidhan Sabha.
According to a spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s Office, any school, which contravenes the provisions of this Act or the rules, made thereunder for a month for the first time, shall be liable for a penalty of Rs. 50,000. Provided that if such a school contravenes the provisions of this Act or the rules made thereunder for a month for the second time, then it shall be liable for a penalty of Rs. 1 lakh. Provided further that if such a school contravenes the provisions of this Act or the rules made thereunder for a month for the third time and thereafter, then it shall be liable for a penalty of Rs. 2 lakh.
Sub Section (1A) under Section 8 of the Act has been inserted, where the State Government is of the opinion that it is necessary or expedient to do so, for reasons to be recorded in writing, it may, suitably enhance or reduce any of the penalty as specified in sub section 1 of Section 8 of this Act by publishing a notification in the official gazette.
Notably, the Punjab Learning of Punjabi and Other Languages Act, 2008 was enacted by the State Government with the objective to provide for learning of Punjabi as compulsory subject by all students studying in 1st to 10th Class and for learning of other languages also and for the matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. Sub-section 1 of Section 8 of the said Act relates to imposition of penalties upon Schools that violate the provisions of the said Act.
Further, clause (e) of Section 2 of the said Act, the word ‘school’ has been defined as ‘School’ includes any primary school, middle school, high school and senior secondary school, established and maintained by the State Government or a local body or panchayat, society or trust or such other schools as may be notified by the State Government from time to time.
It may also be mentioned that in pursuance of the aforesaid definition, the State Government vide notification dated 22 March 2010 has already notified that Central Schools, Navodya Schools and all Schools affiliated with the Central Board of Education and Indian Council of Secondary Education situated in the State of Punjab to be the Schools for the purposes of the said Act.
With the passage of time, it is felt that the aforesaid penalties are on the lower side. Therefore, in order to achieve the objectives for which the Act in question was enacted by the State Government and also for more effective implementation of the said Act, a need has arisen to enhance the said penalties as specified in sub section 1 of Section 8 of the Act.
GIVES NOD TO AMEND OFFICIAL LANGUAGE ACT, 1967
The Cabinet also approved amendment in the Official Language Act, 1967 by including Section 8 (3) under Section 8 (d) of the Punjab State Language (Amendment) Act, 2008 according to which in addition to punishment the provision of penalty against officers/officials who do not conduct official business in Punjabi language has been made. Accordingly, the provision has been made against the officer or official for violating the provisions of Punjab State Language Act, 1967 and Amendment Act, 2008 and various notifications made there under. As per this provision, a first time guilty officer or official can be fined Rs. 500/- as per the recommendations of the competent authority i.e. Director, Language Department, Punjab. The second offense carries a fine of upto Rs 2,000 and the third offense carries a fine to the extent upto Rs 5,000. Such penalty shall be levied by the concerned Disbursement & Expenditure Officer on the salary of the officer or official. Provided that before the imposition of such fine concerned officer or official shall be given an opportunity to be heard.
According to a spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s Office, around 40,000 families under various schemes of Improvement Trusts would be benefitted by this decision. The step has been taken on the repeated requests received from various Improvement Trusts either to waive off or reduce the rate of interest to be charged on the enhancement amount to be recovered from the allottees.
EXTENDS VIDHAN SABHA SESSION FOR ANOTHER DAY ON NOVEMBER 11
Keeping in view multifarious legislative business/obligations, the Cabinet also decided to extend the 16th Special Session of 15th Punjab Vidhan Sabha by another day on November 11, 2021 (Thursday). Earlier, the session was only convened for one day i.e. November 8, 2021 (Monday). Resultantly, now the special session of the State Assembly would be convened for two days on November 8 and November 11.
APPROVES PUNJAB TISSUE CULTURE BASED SEED POTATO RULES-2021
The Cabinet also gave its nod to ‘The Punjab Tissue Culture Based Seed Potato Rules-2021’ to develop Punjab as a standard potato seed centre, which would further help in achieving the target of agriculture diversification of the state government by increasing the potato acreage with production of 4 LMT of potato from 1 lakh hectare. With this decision, Punjab has become the first state in the country to have the facility of tissue culture based certification, which would further lead to develop Jalandhar-Kapurthala belt as the export hub of potato.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet also approved to introduce the ‘Punjab Horticulture Nursery Bill-2021’ in Vidhan Sabha Session by amending ‘Punjab Fruit Nursery Act-1961’.
EX-POST FACTO APPROVAL FOR PAYMENT OF ENHANCED PENSION THROUGH CHEQUES
The Cabinet also gave ex-post approval for payment of enhanced pension through cheques under Old Age Pension & other Financial Schemes for the month of July, 2021 as one time relaxation in the rules and thereafter disbursement would be done through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) as before. Pertinently, the Punjab Government has enhanced the amount of pension under Old Age and other Financial Assistance from Rs. 750 to Rs. 1500 per month with effect from July 1, 2021.