[ad_1]

GOVERNOR WITHHOLDING ASSENT TO STATE BILLS

Why in News: Over the past year, multiple states including Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Punjab, have approached the SC about Governors withholding assent to Bills for long periods of time.

The Kerala government last week approached the Supreme Court saying President Droupadi Murmu had withheld assent to four Bills passed by the state “while disclosing no reason whatsoever”, and that Governor Arif Mohammed Khan had withheld assent to seven Bills — some for as long as two years — before referring them to the President.

Kerala, which is ruled by the Left Democratic Front, urged the top court to declare the referring of state Bills to the President as “unconstitutional and lacking in good faith”.

WHAT IS ARTICLE 200?

Article 200 of the Constitution empowers the Governor of a state wrt the bills received by him/her after the passage by the state legislature. Following are the options available with the governor:

  • Give assent to the Bill.
  • Withholding assent.
  • Reserving the Bill for President’s assent.
  • Returning the bill for reconsideration of the house. (In this case, if the house, with or without amending the bill, passes the bill & sends it again for the assent of the Governor, He/she is bound to give assent to the bill.)

SC JUDGEMENT ON ARTICLE 200 (DECEMBER 2023)

The new interpretation relates to the real meaning of the first proviso to Article 200 which says that the Governor may send the Bill back to the Assembly with a request for reconsideration of the Bill as a whole or certain provisions thereof.

The judgement has linked two options available with the Governor:

  • Withholding Assent
  • Returning the bill for reconsideration

The CJI has stated that if the Governor wishes to withhold assent, then he/she has to return the bill for reconsideration of the Assembly immediately.

Through his judgment, the CJI, in a farsighted approach, has protected the rights of the legislature in the matter of law making, and in fact the entire constitutional system from the depredations of unelected Governors.

ON RESERVING THE BILL FOR PRESIDENTIAL ASSENT

There is still an area which can be exploited by the Governors to frustrate the lawmaking exercise of State governments. Reserving a Bill for the consideration of the President is an absolute option still available to a Governor.

WHAT KIND OF BILLS THE GOVERNOR HAS TO RESERVE FOR THE PRESIDENT?

The second proviso to Article 200 mentions one kind of Bill which are mandatorily to be reserved for the consideration of the President. These are Bills which derogate from the powers of the High Court in such a way as to endanger the constitutionally designed position of that court. Apart from this, any other bill can ALSO BE RESERVED for Presidential Assent.

PRESIDENT’S ROLE IN LAWMAKING

In situations where a Bill is sent to the President for consideration, the President can either give or withhold assent. This is dealt with in Article 201.

If assent is withheld, the President requests the Governor to return the Bill to the state legislature for reconsideration. The state government then has six months to reconsider the Bill — failing to do so results in its lapsing.

If the Bill is passed once again by the state legislature, it must be sent back to the President who, unlike the Governor, is under no obligation to give assent when assessing the reconsidered Bill. This is the only situation in which state governments do not have the final say in their own lawmaking process.

THE KERALA GOVERNMENT’S ARGUMENT

  • The Kerala government’s petition terms the actions of Governor Khan and President Murmu as “manifestly arbitrary”, i.e., an action that is unreasonable, irrational and which, as a result, violates the right to equality.
  • The petition argues that the decision to keep Bills pending violates Article 200 by not making a decision “as soon as possible”. As such, the Governor had “subverted the functioning” of the state legislature and “rendered its existence itself ineffective and otiose” (serving no practical purpose), the government has said.
  • On President Murmu’s decision to withhold assent to four of the Bills referred to her, the Kerala government has argued that this was done without giving “any reason whatsoever”. This, it claims, is in violation of Article 201, which states that the President is required to return the Bill with a message containing “such amendments as he may recommend”.

[ad_2]

Source link

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *