New Delhi: The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Monday two separate pleas of the Tamil Nadu and Kerala governments, alleging a delay by the respective state governors in giving assent to bills passed by the Assemblies. A bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra is scheduled to hear the pleas.
The Tamil Nadu Assembly re-adopted 10 bills in a special sitting on Saturday, days after those were returned by Governor R N Ravi. The bills, covering different departments, including law, agriculture and higher education, were passed in the wake of Ravi returning those on November 13. The re-adopted bills were later sent to the governor for his assent.
On November 10, describing the alleged delay by the Tamil Nadu governor in giving assent to the bills as a "matter of serious concern", the top court sought the Center's response on the state government's petition accusing the Raj Bhawan of "sitting over" 12 legislation. Issuing notice to the Center, the top court had sought the assistance of the attorney general or solicitor general in resolving the issue.
"The issues which have been raised in the writ petition raise a matter of serious concern. From the tabulated statements which have been submitted before this court, it appears that as many as 12 bills which have been submitted to the governor under Article 200 have not elicited any further action.
"Other matters, such as proposals for the grant of sanction for prosecution, proposals for the premature release of prisoners and for the appointment of the members of the Public Service Commission, are pending," it had said. The bench headed by CJI Chandrachud had said, "Bearing in mind the situation, we issue notice to the second respondent, namely, the Union of India represented by the secretary to the government in the Ministry of Home Affairs. We request the attorney general of India or, in his absence, the solicitor general of India to assist the court."
It had noted that Article 200 of the Constitution mandates that when a bill is passed by the legislative Assembly of a state or where a state has a bicameral legislature, by both the Houses, it shall be presented to the governor, who shall (1) declare assents to the bill or (2) withhold assent therefrom or (3) reserve the bill for the consideration of the president.
The Tamil Nadu government has urged the top court to intervene in the matter, alleging that "a constitutional authority" is consistently acting in an "unconstitutional manner, impeding and obstructing" the functioning of the state government for "extraneous reasons". "Declare that the inaction, omission, delay and failure to comply with the constitutional mandate by the governor of Tamil Nadu/first respondent qua the consideration and assent of the bills passed and forwarded by the Tamil Nadu state legislature to him and the non-consideration of files, government orders and policies forwarded by the state government for his signature is unconstitutional, illegal, arbitrary, unreasonable, besides mala-fide exercise of power," the petition says.
The governor, by "not signing remission orders, day-to-day files, appointment orders, approving recruitment orders, granting approval to prosecute ministers, MLAs involved in corruption, including transfer of investigation to the CBI by the Supreme Court, bills passed by the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly is bringing the entire administration to a grinding halt and creating adversarial attitude by not cooperating with the state administration," it says.
Similarly, the Kerala government has moved the top court claiming that Governor Arif Mohammed Khan is delaying his assent to the bills passed by the Assembly, which is "defeating the rights of the people". It has claimed inaction on the governor's part in relation to eight bills passed by the state legislature and said many of these bills involve immense public interest and provide for welfare measures that would stand deprived and denied to the people of the southern state to the extent of the delay.
"The petitioner -- state of Kerala -- in fulfillment of its parens patriae obligation to its people, seeks appropriate orders from this court in relation to the inaction on the part of the governor of the state in relation to as many as eight bills passed by the state legislature and presented to the governor for his assent under Article 200 of the Constitution.
"Of these, three bills have remained pending with the governor for more than two years and three more in excess of a full year. 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 plea filed by the Kerala government says.
The government has contended that grave injustice is being done to the people of the state as also to its representative democratic institutions by the governor by keeping the bills pending for long periods of time, including three for more than two years. "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," it has submitted.
The plea says the governor's conduct in keeping the bills pending for long and indefinite periods of time is also manifestly arbitrary and violates Article 14 of the Constitution.