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“What Was Governor Doing For 3 Years?” Supreme Court On Tamil Nadu Bills

“What Was Governor Doing For 3 Years?” Supreme Court On Tamil Nadu Bills


'What Was Governor Doing For 3 Years?' Supreme Court On Tamil Nadu Bills

New Delhi:

The Supreme Court on Monday asked tough questions of Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi, as it resumed hearing the Tamil Nadu government’s plea against delays in clearing bills passed by the Assembly.

“These bills were pending since 2020… what was he doing for three years?” it asked.

The top court – which is hearing similar pleas by the Punjab and Kerala governments – also raised a point of law – “can a Governor withhold assent on a bill without sending it back to the Assembly?”

The court’s strong observations come days after Mr Ravi returned ten bills – two of which were passed by the earlier AIADMK government. A furious Tamil Nadu Assembly then held a special session on Saturday to re-adopt all ten bills, which were sent back to the Governor for his assent.

The court this morning noted this development and said, “Assembly has passed the bills again and sent it to the Governor. Let us see what Governor does,” as it adjourned the matter till December 1.

“Once bills are re-passed, they are on the same footing as money bills,” the court pointed out.

The Tamil Nadu government has accused the BJP-appointed Governor of deliberately delaying the bills’ clearance and scuttling the state’s development by “undermining the elected administration”.

In its approach to the court, the ruling DMK said the Governor’s actions were “undermining the will of the people” by deliberately delaying bills sent for clearance and asked for a specific timeframe.

Among the pending bills is one that clips the Governor’s authority to appoint Vice Chancellors of state-run universities, and another seeking prosecution of ex-ministers from the AIADIMK.

In today’s hearing, there was a back-and-forth between senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi (representing the Tamil Nadu government) and the Solicitor-General (arguing for Mr Ravi).

“The Governor returned the bills stating ‘I withhold assent’ without giving any reason…” the Tamil Nadu government argued, adding “The Governor has violated every word of the Constitution.”

To this, the Solicitor-General argued, “The Governor is not a mere technical supervisor.”

The court noted that Mr Ravi had assented to 162 of 181 bills presented to him.

The court also noted the Governor of any state, under Article 200, has three options – assent to bills presented to him, withhold that assent, or send it to the President of India.

“The proviso says Governor may send it to the state government for reconsideration,” the court said.

Mr Ravi had earlier also returned the NEET Exemption Bill, after much delay, and forwarded it to the President of India only after the Assembly passed the bill again. He adopted a similar stance over a bill seeking a ban on online gaming. “Withholding bills is a courteous way of saying no…” he said.

Tamil Nadu isn’t the only state to have moved the Supreme Court against its Governor.

The others include Kerala and Punjab. With reference to the situation in the latter state, the court told Governor Banwarilal Purohit last week he is “playing with fire”. This was after Mr Singhvi said Mr Purohit had delayed seven bills, including one fiscal management and education.

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