Ever since the incidences of Covid-19 pandemic in Punjab, all powers vested with the Magistracy are flagrantly usurped by the Chief Minister, Capt. Amarinder in his regular ’Phurmaans’ (edicts) pronounced, time to time from the ‘Saragarhi Farms’.
I find no tangible explanation in Cr. PC or any other statute, whereby the Chief Minister of the State is vested with the powers to clamp down curfew or even prohibitory orders with an announcement on TV. All such powers, under Section 144 of the Cr.PC, are vested with the District Magistrate or the senior most executive magistrate in the district.
But, taking the undue advantage of the pandemic, the Chief Minister has incongruously appropriated all such powers and making pronouncements himself with regard to relaxation of the timings in the curfew and even to the extent of threatening the violators of Section 144 Cr. PC, with dire consequences, which is thoroughly codified in the jurisdiction of the police and the Ilaaqa Magistrate .
I agree that under the constitutional democracy, the Political masters, are the final arbitrators for the policy framework, but the governance mechanism lies with the administrative apparatus, that is unambiguously and elaborately defined in the Constitution and the statutory rules.
From time immemorial the constitutional governments functions through its magistracy but only the ‘Sovereign Emperors’ or the ‘Maharajas
’ or ‘Nawabs
’ could make departures, befitting to their whims and fancies.
Late Chief Minister of joint Punjab, Partap Singh Kairon, is considered to be the ablest Chief Minister of Punjab so far. Once questioned by a journalist as to what is the secret of his Good Governance? "I trust my magistracy and govern through them” was the crisp reply of the legendary Chief Minister.
Occasionally the paradoxical pronouncements made by the Chief Minster are not in sync with the ground level realities, as the situation varies from place to place and districts to district. Therefore his pronouncements are often refuted by the officials handling the difficult situation at ground zero.
There seems to be no clear-cut demarcation or decentralization of powers in terms of the decision making perhaps which is why Punjab is facing chaotic conditions on almost all fronts.
Chief Minister must trust the state administration, district administration and the health authorities for implementing the regulatory mechanism, to combat Covid-19 in the trying times of difficult era.
Once the administrative chain of command is broken in the ‘state craft’ than it takes a while to restore it and put the same in a forward gear.
The Chief Minister and his Ministers should restrict themselves to policy making and meticulously monitor its faithful implementation at the ground level.
Therefore, I would urge the Chief Minister of the democratically elected Government in Punjab, to act in accordance with the law and the time tested standards of the ‘State Governance’ must be adhered, conscientiously.
Interestingly, every now and then the Chief minister is threatening the people of the state to face dire consequences, if they violate the prohibitory orders, promulgated under Section 144 Cr PC. But people of the State wishes to know if the stringent prohibitory orders are meant for the public only and the ruling class is exempted from committing all wrongs?
What action Chief Minister has taken, against his own Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu and his henchmen for violating the prohibitory orders in Mohali, with impunity, on May 1, 2020 in the full public glare, which has been repeatedly displayed on the electronic media?
However, once the State is finally liberated from the Covid-19 pandemic, all political parties would get a free chance for political optics including the Chief Minister and his party but now all the restrictions put in place must be respected by all diligently.