Bill signing 'delays': SC asks Kerala Guv to go through order copy on Punjab Guv matter
The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Kerala Governor to look at the order copy of the Punjab matter and listed the Kerala government's plea on Tuesday.
The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Kerala Governor to look at the order copy of the Punjab governor matter and listed the Kerala government's plea on Tuesday. A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and also comprising justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said that it had uploaded the order on the Punjab matter yesterday.
Kerala government on November 8, moved a petition in the Supreme Court against Governor Arif Mohammed Khan for inaction on his part regarding eight Bills passed by the state legislature and presented to him for his assent under Article 200 of the Constitution. "Of these, 3 Bills have remained pending with the Governor for more than 2 years, and 3 more in excess of a full year," the petitioner said.
The court asked the governor to go through the order copy of the Punjab Government and adjourned the matter for Tuesday. The conduct of the Governor, as would presently be demonstrated, threatens to defeat and subvert the very fundamentals and basic foundations of our Constitution, including the rule of law and democratic good governance, apart from defeating the rights of the people of the State to the welfare measures sought to be implemented through the Bills, the Kerala Government said in its petition.
The pending Bills include University Laws Amendment Bill, Kerala Co-operative Societies Amendment Bill, the Kerala Lokayukta Amendment Bill and the Public Health Bill. "Article 200 of the Constitution casts a solemn duty on the Governor of a State by requiring that on the presentation to him of any Bill passed by the State Legislature, he shall declare either that he assents to the Bill or that he withholds assent therefrom or that he reserves the Bill for the consideration of the President," the petition said.
"The words "as soon as possible" necessarily mean that not only should pending bills be disposed of within a reasonable time, but further that these Bills have to be dealt with urgently and expeditiously without any avoidable delay. This phrase conveys the clear intention of the Constitution that the Governor has to treat the Bill presented to him with a sense of urgency," the petition mentioned. "The urgency should normally mean a few weeks and nothing more, as the State Legislature, through its elected representatives has debated a Bill and has finally decided that the public interest would require, as a part of the governance of the State, to have the Bills made into law as soon as possible," it added.
"Grave injustice is being done to the people of the State, as also to its representative democratic institutions (i.e. the State Legislature and the Executive) by the Governor, by keeping Bills pending for long periods of time, including 3 Bills for longer than 2 years," the petition further said. The Governor appears to be of the view that granting assent or otherwise dealing with Bills is a matter entrusted to him in his absolute discretion, to decide whenever he pleases. This is a complete subversion of the Constitution, the Kerala government claimed in its petition.
"Each of the Bills that are pending with the Governor are in the public interest for the people of Kerala, inter alia, by improving the state of public health infrastructure to tackle communicable diseases [by applying the lessons learnt during the COVID pandemic], by making State University laws consistent with Central laws to create uniform national standards," the petition said. It further stated that the failure of the Governor to act, thus, affects the rights which would accrue to the people of the State. The conduct of the Governor in keeping Bills pending for long and indefinite periods of time is also manifestly arbitrary and violates Article 14 of the Constitution.
Additionally, it also defeats the rights of the people of the State of Kerala under Article 21 of the Constitution, by denying them the benefits of welfare legislation enacted by the State Assembly, the petition said. In the petition, the Kerala Government also urged to declare that the Governor is bound to dispose of every bill presented to him within a reasonable time, considering the democratic process and the needs of the people to have welfare measures and other laws affecting the public interest, means to be disposed of "forthwith" or without any delay.
The petitioner urged the top court to declare that the above is the Constitutional position, in this case, the Governor has failed in the exercise of his constitutional powers and duties. The petitioner sought to issue directions to the governor to dispose of the pending bills without any further delay.
Earlier in October this year, the Tamil Nadu Government and Punjab Government approached the top court against the Governors over a delay in the clearance of various bills of the state. On November 10, the top court, while hearing a plea filed by the Tamil Nadu Government, expressed "serious concern" over the delay by governors in giving assent to the bills passed by the state assemblies. (ANI)
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