On Monday (20 November), the Supreme Court issued a notice to both the Central government and Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan's office on a plea by the state government, which accused the Governor of taking too long to approve eight Bills that are currently awaiting his assent.
Meanwhile, in a separate petition filed by the Tamil Nadu government against Governor R N Ravi over the delay in granting assent to Bills, the Supreme Court noted that the Bills passed by the Assembly have been awaiting the Governor's assent since 13 January 2020.
Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, who was heading the bench also comprising Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, said, “The issue is not whether a particular governor has delayed but whether there is a delay in general to execute such functions. This aspect of the matter would be deferred for consideration on next date,” the Bar and Bench reported.
The case has been scheduled for its next hearing on 1 December 2023.
During a special session on Saturday, the Tamil Nadu Assembly readopted 10 Bills initially returned by Governor Ravi on 13 November.
The Governor and the state government have been in disagreement for several months.
Chief Minister M K Stalin, speaking in the Assembly, noted that the Governor's only response was “I withhold assent” to the Bills without any explanation.
He criticised the Governor's action as an affront to the elected officials of the state and an undermining of democratic principles.
In its order on the Kerala government's plea, the apex court said, "Mr Venugopal submits that- 1. The governor is a part of legislature under Art 162; 2. The governor had promulgated three ordinances which were later converted into those passed by legislature; 3. As many as eight bills are pending consideration for assent ranging from 7 to 21 months."
“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.
The Supreme Court also issued a notice to Attorney General R Venkataramani asking that either he or Solicitor General Tushar Mehta assist it in the hearing. The Court will now hear the Kerala government’s plea on Friday (24 November).
Earlier this month, the CPI(M)-led government of Kerala moved the apex court against Governor Khan, complaining that he was withholding approval of up to eight Bills that “involve immense public interest”.
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