Governors’ inaction: SC seeks reply from Centre, Kerala guv’s office; adjourns hearing on TN’s plea till Dec 1

SC had observed governor's inaction was 'matter of serious concern'

Supreme Court of India A view of the Supreme Court | Arvind Jain

Hearing separate pleas from the state governments of Kerala and Tamil Nadu regarding the governor’s delay in granting assent to bills passed by respective state assemblies, the Supreme Court has sought responses from the Centre and Kerala Governor’s office on Kerala’s plea, and has adjourned hearing on Tamil Nadu’s plea till December 1.

A bench comprising Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justices J.B. Pardiwala and Manoj Misra heard Kerala’s petition against governor Arif Mohammed Khan alleging delay in granting assent to several bills cleared by the legislative assembly. Senior advocate K.K. Venugopal, appearing on behalf of Kerala alleged that the governor was delaying granting assent to eight bills passed by the Assembly. "This is an endemic situation. The governors do not realise that they are part of the legislature under Article 168 of the Constitution," Venugopal said in Court. Venugopal said as many as eight bills had been pending consideration for the assent of the governor for 7-21 months.

The apex court has also issued a notice to Attorney General R. Venkataramani asking that either he or Solicitor General Tushar Mehta assist it in the hearing. Supreme Court will next hear the Kerala government's plea on Friday.

Hearing a similar petition filed by Tamil Nadu, the bench questioned the apparent delay on the part of the governor in granting assent to bills and his sudden action of returning 10 bills after the Court took up the case for hearing recently. The apex court then said the governor’s inaction was a “matter of serious concern”.

Live Law, quoting the hearing reported, “Mr Attorney, the Governor says he has disposed of these bills on November 13. Our concern is that our order was passed on November 10. These bills have been pending since January 2020. It means that the Governor took the decision after the Court issued notice. What was the Governor doing for three years? Why should the Governor wait for the parties to approach the Supreme Court?", asked the CJI D.Y. Chandrachud to Attorney General for India R. Venkataramani. The bench observed the concern was not regarding the conduct of any particular governor but the functioning of the governor’s office in general.

 The Tamil Nadu assembly convened a special session on Saturday to readopt the 10 bills returned by Governor R.N. Ravi, including bills that were sent for governor’s assent in 2020. The bench has adjourned the hearing on the petition till December 1, awaiting further decision from the governor.

- with agency inputs.

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