After Delhi, Punjab and Tamil Nadu, Kerala approaches SC against governor’s recalcitrance

In its complaint against Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, the Kerala government has alleged that three Bills have been pending with the governor for more than two years and three more in excess of a year.

DAYS after the Tamil Nadu government approached the Supreme Court against the governor for not clearing Bills passed by the state legislative assembly, the Kerala government has also approached the court with similar grievances.

The Kerala government has accused Governor Arif Mohammed Khan of not giving assent to as many as eight Bills passed by the state legislative assembly.

Of these Bills, three have remained pending with the governor for more than two years, and three more in excess of a year.

In its petition, the state government has argued that grave injustice is being done to the people of the state, as also to representative democratic institutions (i.e., the state legislature and the executive) by the governor by keeping Bills pending for long periods of time.

The governor appears to be of the view that granting assent or otherwise dealing with Bills is a matter entrusted to him in his absolute discretion, to decide whenever he pleases. This is a complete subversion of the Constitution,” the state government contends.

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 state government argues.

The first proviso to Article 200 states that the governor may “as soon as possible after the presentation” of the Bill for assent, return the Bill if it is not a money Bill together with a message for reconsideration to the House or Houses of the state legislature. The expression “as soon as possible” has significant constitutional content and must be borne in mind by constitutional authorities.

The words “as soon as possible”, the Kerala government argues, necessarily mean that not only should pending Bills be disposed of within a reasonable time, but also that these Bills have to be dealt with urgently and expeditiously without any avoidable delay.


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