The Governor cannot be allowed to sit over the Bills as it halts the governance, Senior Advocate Venugopal said
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday noted that Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan has taken decisions on eight bills and asked him to meet Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan along with the minister concerned to discuss other pending bills referred to him in September.
A bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud took note of the submissions of Attorney General R Venkataramani representing the office of the Governor, that out of eight Bills, seven have been “reserved” for consideration by the President and assent has been granted to one.
The apex court also permitted the State government to amend its original plea to seek issuance of guidelines for the Governors on grant or decline of assent to the bills passed by the Assembly or reserve a bill for consideration by the President in a time-bound manner.
After hearing the arguments and counter-arguments, the CJI said, “Let us hope that some political sagacity takes over the state and we hope some sagacity prevails. Otherwise, we are here to lay down the law and do our duty under the Constitution.”
“We will record that the Governor will discuss the matter with both the Chief Minister and the minister in charge and related to the Bill...,” the bench said.
Appearing for the State government, Senior Advocate K K Venugopal asserted that the time has come for the top court to lay down some guidelines as to when the bills can be reserved for the Presidential assent under Article 200 of the Constitution.
The Governor cannot be allowed to sit over the Bills as it halts the governance, Mr Venugopal further said.
Initially, the bench was inclined to dispose of the plea of the State government as the Governor's office has taken decisions on the bills but later decided to keep it pending to consider laying down guidelines on the issue.
Earlier, the apex court had asked the Additional Chief Secretary of Kerala Governor to refer to its recent verdict in Punjab's case where it was held governors cannot "thwart the normal course of lawmaking".
In its plea, the Kerala government had claimed that the Governor is delaying the consideration of the eight bills by withholding his assent and this is "defeating the rights of the people".
The court also took strong exception to Kerala Governor sitting on the eight bills passed by the State legislature for two years without clearing the same, saying, "There is accountability by the Governor and it is about our accountability to the constitution."
According to Article 200 of the Constitution, "Assent to Bills when a Bill has been passed by the Legislative Assembly of a State or, in the case of a State having a Legislative Council, has been passed by both Houses of the Legislature of the State, it shall be presented to the Governor and the Governor 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."