The Cabinet on Wednesday recommended Governor Arif Mohammed Khan to convene the Assembly from August 22.
The Cabinet communique did not spell out the Assembly's agenda or timetable. Nevertheless, there is widespread speculation that the government aspires to seek legislative ratification for several Ordinances that have lapsed after Mr. Khan sought time to seek the administration's rationale for repromulgating the executive orders.
The decision to convene the Assembly seems suggestive of the government’s reluctance to strike a confrontational approach to Mr. Khan. However, the Communist Party of India (CPI), in an editorial in the party newspaper Janayugam on Wednesday, excoriated Mr. Khan for “using Raj Bhavan as a political platform to advance the interest of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Central government.” It said Mr. Khan attempted to make up for the BJP's irrelevance in State politics by using Raj Bhavan's pulpit for politicking.
The government had sent Mr. Khan 11 Ordinances for repromulgation. They included the controversial Kerala Lok Ayukta Act, 1999 amendment Ordinance and the Kerala Cooperative Societies Act, 2022 amendment Ordinance.
The Opposition had alleged that the Ordinances defanged the Lok Ayukta to forestall anti-corruption investigations against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and undermined the democratic functioning of cooperative societies with an eye on controlling Milma.
Mr. Khan had publicly taken exception to the government's bid to re-issue the Ordinances instead of getting the executive orders ratified by the Assembly. He had said he would not rubber-stamp the government's demand without judicious application of the mind.
Mr. Khan made the case that the Assembly had envisaged the option of issuing an ordinance instead of passing a law as an emergency provision. The government could issue executive orders only when the Assembly was not in session. Hence, executive orders had an expiry date. Quoting a 2017 Supreme Court order, Mr. Khan maintained that re-promulgation of ordinances was tantamount to a subversion of the democratic process.
Law Minister P. Rajeeve said the government's decision to advance the Assembly session had little to do with Raj Bhavan. The government viewed executive orders as an extraordinary provision best used sparingly.
Mr. Khan appeared to dig in his heels on his stated position again on Wednesday. He told reporters in New Delhi: “I am constitutionally obliged to verify whether an emergency warranted the promulgation of an executive order. I have to apply my mind, exercise my fair judgement before signing it into law.”
Mr. Khan saw no merit in the accusation that the government's alleged bid to curb the Governor's power as chancellor of universities, especially Raj Bhavan's say in selecting university vice chancellors, had informed his position.