‘Matter of serious concern’: SC issues notice to Centre on TN plea against delay by Guv in assenting Bills

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Centre on a plea filed by the Tamil Nadu government against delay by Governor R.N. Ravi in assenting Bills passed by the state legislature.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud said that the petition raises a “matter of serious concern” and decided to call for assistance from Attorney General R. Venkataramani or Solicitor General Tushar Mehta in the matter.

The bench, also comprising Justices J.B. Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, decided to take up the matter immediately after Diwali break — tentatively on November 20.

During the hearing, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing on state government’s behalf, said that bills passed 2-3 years back are still pending with the Governor for assent.

Singhvi highlighted that the Governor is not granting sanction for prosecution of Ministers or MLAs involved in corruption cases, adding that more than 54 files relating to remission of prisoners are pending with him.

The top court was also apprised by senior advocates Mukul Rohtagi and P. Wilson that as many as 10 posts out of 14 are vacant in the state public service commission.

In its plea filed under Article 32 of the Constitution, the Tamil Nadu government has claimed that the Governor has positioned himself as a “political rival” to the legitimately elected state government.

The petition said that the Governor was not signing remission orders, day to day files, appointment orders, approving recruitment orders, granting approval to prosecute Ministers or MLAs involved in corruption, and Bills passed by the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly.

The state government has sought directions from the Supreme Court to stipulate the outer time limit for the Governor to consider Bills passed by the Legislature sent for his assent under Article 200 of the Constitution.

It further sought directions for disposal of all the Bills, files and government orders which are pending with the Governor’s office within a specified timeframe.

According to Article 200, when a Bill passed by the legislature of a state is presented to the Governor, he has four options — (a) he assents to the Bill; (b) he withholds assent; (c) he reserves the Bill for the consideration of the President; (d) he returns the Bill to the legislature for reconsideration.

The first provison says that as soon as the Bill is presented to the Governor, he may return the Bill to the legislature (if it is not a Money Bill) and request the legislature to reconsider it.

The Governor can also recommend introducing amendments or changes as he thinks appropriate.

If, on such reconsideration, the Bill is passed again, with or without amendments, and is presented to the Governor for assent, he has to accord his assent.

In accordance with the constitutional scheme, the Governor is constitutionally bound to exercise one of the above options for the legislative process to achieve finality.

Another plea filed by the Tamil Nadu government challenges the decision of the Governor to unilaterally constitute the Search Committees for appointment of Vice Chancellors in three state universities.


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