Supreme Court notice to Centre on Kerala government's petition against Governor's inaction on pending bills
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud issued notice to the Centre and Additional Chief Secretary to Kerala's Governor on the plea. Read further on Dynamite News:
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Centre and others on the Kerala government's petition urging to pass to appropriate orders in relation to the inaction on the part of the Governor of the State, Arif Mohammed Khan, in relation to as many as eight bills passed by the state legislature and presented to the Governor for his assent.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud issued notice to the Centre and Additional Chief Secretary to Kerala's Governor on the plea. The court listed the matter on November 22 and asked the Attorney General or Solicitor General to assist on the matter.
Senior Advocate KK Venugopal, who is a former Attorney General of India, represented the Kerala Government on the matter. He apprised the court that as many as 8 bills are pending consideration for assent ranging from many months.
Kerala government has moved the Supreme Court, urging to pass to appropriate orders 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.
Kerala government 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, three bills have remained pending with the Governor for more than two years, and three more in excess of a full year," the petitioner said. 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.
The pending Bills include the University Laws Amendment Bill, the 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 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," the petition said.
"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 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 added.
The petition further said, "Each of the Bills that are pending with the Governor is 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 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 urged to declare that the Governor is bound to dispose of every bill presented to him within a reasonable time, which 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. (ANI)