Punjab govt. moves to insure MLAs against ‘office of profit’
The Punjab government on Wednesday paved the way for legislators to hold several new categories of ‘office of profit’ by approving amendments to the Punjab State Legislature (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1952.“The amendments will protect legislators from disqualification in certain additional cases of office of profit, apart from the ones included in the original Act,” said a statement issued after a Cabinet meeting here.Further amendments include incorporation of a new Section 1A to provide for the definitions of ‘compensatory allowance’, ‘statutory body’ and ‘non-statutory body’. Besides, insertions and additions have also been made to the categories of offices of profit under Section 2 of the disqualification Act.The State Cabinet also decided to extend to the State two ordinances recently promulgated by the Centre pertaining to the rape law and fugitive economic offenders.It approved republication of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018, to make the rape law more stringent. Approval was also given to republish the Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance, 2018, recently promulgated by the Centre.Besides death penalty for rape of a girl under 12 years, the new ordinance amends the Indian Penal Code to provide for enhancement of minimum punishment for rape from the existing seven to 10 years.Stringent punishment“The minimum punishment for the offence of rape of a girl child under 16 years of age has been fixed at life imprisonment, as against the earlier provision of 20 years of rigorous imprisonment, extendable to imprisonment for the rest of the convict’s life,” the official statement said.The statement added that as far as fugitive economic offenders are concerned, the ordinance empowers the authorities to attach and confiscate properties and assets of economic offenders, such as loan defaulters, who flee the country.PSU disinvestmentIn another decision aimed at bridging revenue and fiscal deficits and raising funds for the cash-crunched State exchequer, the Cabinet approved disinvestment of three ailing public sector undertakings.“The process of divestment of the loss-making Punjab Communications Limited, Punjab Finance Corporation and Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation will be carried out by a core group of officers to be set up under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary along with a transaction adviser,” the statement added.