If they don’t agree, Governors should send back Bills ‘as soon as possible’, says SC

Telangana has complained that Governor has kept pending several important Bills sent to her for assent in September 2022

Published - April 24, 2023 07:31 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan.

Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan. | Photo Credit: ANI

The Supreme Court on April 24 sent a strong message that Governors should return Bills they do not agree to “as soon as possible” and not sit over them, making State Legislative Assemblies wait indefinitely.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud referred to the first proviso to Article 200 of the Constitution, which mandates that Governors should not dally over Bills sent to them for assent after they had been passed by Legislative Assemblies.

The observation is part of a judicial order of the court in a petition filed by the State of Telangana complaining that Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan has kept pending several important Bills sent to her for assent in September 2022.

“Your Lordships must intervene and decide once and for all… This is seen in ‘Opposition States’. Legislatures are at the mercy of the Governors… Article 200 says Governors cannot sit over the Bills. Governors are not a law unto themselves that they can sit over Bills because it is a State ruled by the Opposition… Ultimately every authority is under the law… Would Your Lordships say that in future Governors should act with alacrity? At least a hope…”, senior advocate Dushyant Dave, for Telangana, asked the court.

Also Read: Ahead of SC hearing, Telangana Governor clears three pending bills

Article 200

The court agreed that the proviso to Article 200 clearly mandates that Governors should “as soon as possible” return Bills, other than Money Bills, for reconsideration by the House with a note that the proposed law should be reconsidered.

“The phrase ‘as soon as possible’ has a significant content and must be borne in mind by constitutional authorities,” the Bench noted in the order.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the observation in the order was not necessary, and it was not better to “generalise”.

He referred to a communication from Governor Ms. Soundararajan’s office on April 23, which updated that there were no Bills pending with her.

Mr. Mehta said the court’s observation in the order concerning Article 200 would give an impression that there was no “constitutional compliance” on the part of the Telangana Governor.

But Chief Justice Chandrachud said the observation does not point to anyone, but the court had only generally stated the law.

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