Supreme Court hears Tamil Nadu, Kerala pleas against their Governors, seeks reply from Centre | DETAILS

Nov 20, 2023

The Supreme Court heard two separate pleas of the Tamil Nadu and Kerala governments on Monday. The pleas were pertaining to an alleged delay by the respective state Governors in giving assent to bills passed by the assemblies.

The pleas were taken up by a bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra.  Hearing the plea, the top court sought responses from the Centre and the office of Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on a plea of the state government accusing him of not granting assent to several bills cleared by the legislative assembly.

The bench took note of the submissions of senior advocate KK Venugopal, alleging delay on the part of the governor in granting assent to eight bills. The top 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.

What the top court said? 

The apex court also questioned the delay on the part of the Tamil Nadu Governor in disposing of the bills submitted for his assent since January 2020.

"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?", CJI DY Chandrachud asked Attorney General for India R Venkataramani.  Further, the top court also adjourned to December 1 for hearing on the Tamil Nadu Government's plea. 

As many as 10 bills were re-adopted by the Tamil Nadu Assembly on November 18, says after those were returned by Governor RN Ravi. After the governor returned those on November 13, the bills covering several departments, such as law, agriculture, and higher education, were passed. The bills that were re-adopted were then forwarded to the governor for his approval. 

After the governor returned those on November 13, the bills covering several departments, such as law, agriculture, and higher education, were passed. The bills that were re-adopted were then forwarded to the governor for his approval. 

What does Karnataka govt's plea say? 

On November 10, describing the alleged delay by the Tamil Nadu governor in giving assent to the bills as a ''matter of serious concern'', the top court sought the Centre's response on the state government's petition accusing the Raj Bhawan of ''sitting over'' 12 legislations.

Issuing notice to the Centre, the top court had sought the assistance of the attorney general or solicitor general in resolving the issue.

''The issues which have been raised in the writ petition raise a matter of serious concern. From the tabulated statements which have been submitted before this court, it appears that as many as 12 bills which have been submitted to the governor under Article 200 have not elicited any further action," the top court said. 

''Other matters, such as proposals for the grant of sanction for prosecution, proposals for the premature release of prisoners and for the appointment of the members of the Public Service Commission, are pending,'' it had said.

The Tamil Nadu government has urged the top court to intervene in the matter, alleging that ''a constitutional authority'' is consistently acting in an ''unconstitutional manner, impeding and obstructing'' the functioning of the state government for ''extraneous reasons''.

''Declare that the inaction, omission, delay and failure to comply with the constitutional mandate by the governor of Tamil Nadu/first respondent qua the consideration and assent of the bills passed and forwarded by the Tamil Nadu state legislature to him and the non-consideration of files, government orders and policies forwarded by the state government for his signature is unconstitutional, illegal, arbitrary, unreasonable, besides mala-fide exercise of power,'' the petition says.

Plea by Kerala govt

Similarly, the Kerala government has moved the top court claiming that Governor Arif Mohammed Khan is delaying his assent to the bills passed by the Assembly, which is ''defeating the rights of the people''.

It has claimed inaction on the Governor's part in relation to eight bills passed by the state legislature and said many of these bills involve immense public interest and provide for welfare measures that would stand deprived and denied to the people of the southern state to the extent of the delay.

''The petitioner -- state of Kerala -- in fulfilment of its parens patriae obligation to its people, seeks appropriate orders from this court in relation to the inaction on the part of the governor of the state in relation to as many as eight bills passed by the state legislature and presented to the governor for his assent under Article 200 of the Constitution," the plea filed by the Kerala government says.

''Of these, three bills have remained pending with the governor for more than two years and three more in excess of a full year. The conduct of the governor, as would presently be demonstrated, threatens to defeat and subvert the very fundamentals and basic foundations of our Constitution, including the rule of law and democratic good governance, apart from defeating the rights of the people of the state to the welfare measures sought to be implemented through the bills,'' the plea added. 

The government has contended that grave injustice is being done to the people of the state as well as to its representative democratic institutions by the governor by keeping the bills pending for long periods of time, including three for more than two years.

(With inputs from PTI)