Some “soul searching” is needed on both sides, remarked the Supreme Court on Monday over several states accusing Governors of delaying action on bills cleared by the assemblies. Governors of states must remember they are not elected representatives, a bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said while hearing the Punjab government’s petition against the Governor.
Tamil Nadu and Kerala are the other states that had approached the Supreme Court citing a delay in clearing bills by their Governors.
The court has directed Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to place on record the details of action taken by Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit on the bills passed by the assembly.
Chief Justice Chandrachud said the Governors must act on bills before the matters reach the Supreme Court, but at the same time citicised the state government for reconvening the assembly session as an extension of the Budget session in June after adjourning sine die in March,.
Mr Mehta, appearing for the Punjab governor, called the government’s petition an unnecessary litigation and said Mr Purohit has taken action on the bills placed before him.
Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, arguing for the Punjab government, said the governor had kept back seven bills including those related to fiscal management and education. He said the bills were sent for the governor’s nod in July and his inaction has affected governance.
The Supreme Court noted that the assembly was adjourned sine die on March 22, 2022 without being prorogued and it was reconvened. Pointing out that the Budget session virtually merged with the Monsoon session, the court wondered if it was the scheme of the Constitution.
“The assembly was summoned in March, adjourned sine die. The Speaker reconvened the sitting of the assembly in June. Is that really the scheme under the Constitution? You have to hold a session in six months, right…A little bit of soul-searching is needed from the Chief Minister and Governor. Governors cannot be oblivious of the fact that they are not elected representatives of the people. The governor can withhold assent (to bills) and send it back once,” the court said.
Mr Mehta said the House, once adjourned, cannot be reconvened in such a manner and that the practice was against the constitutional scheme. He also alleged that the House was reconvened so that the members can “get together and abuse people”.
The Supreme Court also wondered why should parties in a democracy be needed to approach the Supreme Court to convene a Budget session.
The matter has been posted for further hearing on Friday.