HP assembly to resume budget session amid ban on gatherings in state, lockdown elsewhere in country

Shimla, Mar 22 (PTI) The Himachal Pradesh assembly session will resume Monday amid a ban on any public gathering, including social, religious and political ones, and a lockdown in many states to contain the spread of coronavirus in the country.

As per the schedule announced earlier, the 68-member assembly will resume on Monday after a recess from March 15 to 22. As per the schedule, the budget session is to continue till April 1.

A complete ban has been imposed on organising any religious, cultural, political and social functions and gatherings in the state, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur had stated in a statement on Saturday, requesting the public to postpone even public feasts during marriages and navratras.

A man Kshuti Prakash was on Saturday booked under section 188 of the IPC in Hamirpur district for organising a 'jagran' (religious gathering) comprising about 35 persons in violation of Section 144 of CrPC.

The assembly will resume its session amid a non-government organisation, Umang Foundation, requesting the state government to postpone the Budget session till return of the normalcy.

NGO president Ajay Srivastava told PTI that the state government should set an example for the public by postponing the assembly session till return of the normalcy.' 'Prime Minister Narendra Modi's motive to maintain social distancing by observing 'janata curfew' on Sunday to check the spread of the deadly virus will also be achieved by postponing the assembly session, he added.

Shimla (Rural) Congress MLA Vikramaditya Singh, meanwhile, sought shortening of the remaining budget session to one-day in order to check the spread of coronavirus spread.

Singh has written to Chief Minister Thakur urging him to have a single-day Vidhan Sabha session for passing of the budget and thereafter adjourn it sine die.

In his letter to CM, Singh said, 'We cannot ask people to avoid gatherings and be doing the same where there will be gathering of politicians, civil servants, police officers and general public.'  Uploading the letter on his Facebook page, the Congress MLA stated, 'We should practice what we preach!' The HP assembly budget session had begun on February 25. CM Thakur, who also holds the finance portfolio, had presented a Rs 49,131-crore budget on March 6.

Discussion on the budget was also held from March 9-14 which ended with the CM's reply.  While all educational institutions and religious places have been closed till March 31 and all trains have been cancelled till further orders in the state, section 144 of the CrPC has also been imposed in Kangra, Solan, Chamba and Hamirpur districts. The 144 CrPC prohibits assembly of five or more persons at one place.

Himachal Pradesh has reported two cases of coronavirus.

A 32-year-old man from Harchakkian tehsil and a 64-year-old woman from Dohabe village in Shahpur subdivision have been found suffering from coronavirus.

Besides, a number of persons have been kept under home quarantine. PTI DJI RAX RAX