Supreme Court to hear Tamil Nadu, Kerala pleas against their Governors on November 20

A bench of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra is scheduled to hear the pleas.

Updated - November 20, 2023 11:22 am IST

Published - November 19, 2023 04:53 pm IST - New Delhi

A bench of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra is scheduled to hear the Tamil Nadu and Kerala governments’ plea on ‘delay’ by Governor in giving assent to bills.

A bench of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra is scheduled to hear the Tamil Nadu and Kerala governments’ plea on ‘delay’ by Governor in giving assent to bills. | Photo Credit: ANI

The Tamil Nadu government on November 20 is likely to inform the Supreme Court of its State Legislative Assembly’s re-adoption of 10 crucial Bills returned by Governor R.N. Ravi without “assigning any reasons” and after sitting on them for months together.

Shoulder-to-shoulder, the State of Kerala, is prepared to take on its Governor Mohmmad Arif Khan in the apex court for delaying key Bills, some dating back almost two years.

Kerala has accused the Governor of acting in a manner which “defeat the rights of the people” by withholding the passage of eight Bills on issues ranging from public health, higher education, lokayukta, etc.

Also Read: Governors can’t sit on Bills passed by Assembly: Supreme Court

Tamil Nadu, represented by senior advocates AM Singhvi, P. Wilson and advocate Sabarish Subramanian, and Kerala, represented by senior advocate K.K. Venugopal and advocate CK Sasi, are among other non-BJP ruled States which have taken their Governors to court.

A three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud is scheduled to hear both States, back-to-back, on November 20, the first day of court after the Diwali holidays.

On November 6, the Chief Justice had sent a strong message to State Governors, saying it was time they did a bit of “soul-searching”.

“Why should parties be made to approach the Supreme Court for the Governors to act. We are a democracy in operation since the birth of the Constitution. These are matters to be sorted out between the Governors and Chief Ministers,” Chief Justice Chandrachud had said. The court was hearing Punjab’s plea against the delay caused by its Governor Banwarilal Purohit.

Also read | The role of the Governor in legislature | Explained

“The Governors should not be oblivious of the fact that they are not elected by the people,” the Chief Justice had noted.

Tamil Nadu had accused Governor Ravi of acting like a “political rival” rather than a constitutional statesman by creating a “constitutional deadlock” and inexplicably delaying or even failing to consider and assent to the Bills passed by the Legislature.

The State had argued that the Governor was stymieing day-to-day governance in a way which was threatening to bring administration in the State to a grinding halt a “serious concern”.

Also Read: States v. Governors: Delay in assenting to Bills | Explained

The court had issued formal notice to the Union of India through the Home Ministry to respond to Tamil Nadu. It had also asked the Attorney General of India, or in his absence, the Solicitor General of India to be present in court on November 20.

The court has already highlighted that the Article 200 of the Constitution mandates the Governor to act “as soon as possible” when Bills, passed by the State Legislature, are presented to him for declaration of assent.

Kerala has moved the Supreme Court twice separately against the Governor’s inaction.

The State has highlighted that the arbitrary show of lack of urgency by the Governor violated the fundamental right to life of the people of Kerala.

“The conduct of the Governor in keeping Bills pending for long and indefinite periods of time is manifestly arbitrary and also violates Article 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution. Additionally, it defeats the rights of the people of the State of Kerala under Article 21 (right to life) of the Constitution, by denying them the benefits of welfare legislation enacted by the State Assembly,” the petition said.

“Grave injustice is being done to the people of the State, as also to its representative democratic institutions (i.e. the State Legislature and the Executive), by the Governor by keeping Bills pending for long periods of time, including three Bills for longer than two years. 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,” Kerala has argued.

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