Governors are not rubber stamps, says T.N. Governor

People make all kinds of noise on what the Governors should do and should not. The noise does not matter. What matters is the Constitution of India, says R.N. Ravi

Updated - November 16, 2022 10:27 am IST

Published - November 15, 2022 08:05 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

Tamil Nadu Governor R.N. Ravi.

Tamil Nadu Governor R.N. Ravi. | Photo Credit: M. PERIASAMY

Amid the ongoing tussle between the Governors and State governments in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Governor of Tamil Nadu R.N. Ravi on Tuesday said Governors were not rubber stamps and must take a call when attempts were made to weaken institutions.

He was speaking as the chief guest at the Lok Ayukta Day celebrations organised by the Kerala Lok Ayukta.

Mr. Ravi was in the capital on a day in which the Left Democratic Front took out a protest march to Raj Bhavan accusing Governor Arif Mohammed Khan of attempting to destroy the State’s higher education sector.

“The institution of Governor is important. They have a role to play when amendments are brought in to weaken institutions like Lok Ayukta. The Governors must take a call, because they are not rubber stamps. People make all kinds of noise on what the Governors should do and should not. The noise does not matter. What matters is the Constitution of India. The Supreme Court and the High Courts are the interpreters of the Constitution. Whether the Governor’s actions are right or not is decided by the judiciary,” he said.

“Under Article 200 of the Constitution, the Governor shall declare either that he assents to the Bill or that he withholds assent therefrom or that he reserves the Bill for the consideration of the President. The Supreme Court has made it very clear that it is within the constitutional framework if a Bill is withheld,” Mr. Ravi said.

One of the issues that the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-led Secular Progressive Alliance raised in its memorandum to Rashtrapathi Bhavan seeking the removal of Mr.Ravi from the Governor’s post was the delay in assenting to Bills, with a total of 20 Bills remaining pending.

Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan used the occasion to direct barbs at the Left Democratic Front Government for the Lok Ayukta amendments that were passed by the Assembly in August, amid a boycott by the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) Opposition.

He said a strong anti-corruption mechanism was required to retain people’s trust. Amendments to such laws both at the Centre and in the States ended up weakening the purpose for which they were originally brought in.

Law Minister P. Rajeeve said the Lok Ayukta amendments only adopted the clauses which were present in the Lokpal Act of 2013. Though the Lok Pal Bill was presented in Parliament way back in 1968, it was not enacted until 2013 even though successive governments led by parties which make big claims against corruption had tenures.

He said Kerala ranked the lowest in corruption as per the latest Transparency International indices.

Lok Ayukta Justice Cyriac Joseph said he was not wading into the debate regarding the Lok Ayukta amendments as the legislature had the last word on Bills. He said the Lok Ayukta’s functions were not just limited to fighting corruption but also in taking up cases of maladministration to bring relief to the common public on a host of issues. But these did not get much media attention as the issues were not sensational. He also had a word of caution on media trials.

“A media trial before the real trial in a court of law harms society. The credibility of the institution of judiciary or the Lok Ayukta will be adversely affected by such bad and irresponsible publicity,” he said.

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