Two AIADMK-era Bills among 13 pending in the Raj Bhavan, says Law Department

Documents provided in response to an application filed under the Right to Information Act by The Hindu showed the Governor is yet to give assent to the Tamil Nadu Fisheries University (Amendment) Bill, 2020, and the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (Amendment) Bill, 2020

June 26, 2023 12:03 am | Updated 07:41 am IST - CHENNAI

Tamil Nadu Governor R.N. Ravi in Raj Bhavan, Chennai. File photo

Tamil Nadu Governor R.N. Ravi in Raj Bhavan, Chennai. File photo | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Two Bills passed by the Tamil Nadu Assembly during the erstwhile AIADMK government, headed by Edappadi K Palaniswami, are among the 13 pieces of legislation pending with the Governor, according to the Tamil Nadu Law Department.

Documents provided in response to an application filed under the Right to Information Act by The Hindu showed the Governor is yet to give assent to the Tamil Nadu Fisheries University (Amendment) Bill, 2020, and the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (Amendment) Bill, 2020. These two Bills were sent to the Raj Bhavan for assent on January 13 and 18, 2020, respectively, when Banwarilal Purohit was the Governor during the AIADMK government.

In its response dated June 15 this year, the Public Information Officer of the Law Department said 13 Bills (including these two) passed by the Assembly are pending with the Governor as on May 22 this year.

The Fisheries University Amendment Bill sought to vest the government with the power of inspection, instead with the Chancellor (Governor), and to include a government nominee in the panel for selection of candidates for Vice-Chancellor. The TANUVAS Amendment Bill sought to vest the government with the power of inspection and inquiry, instead with the Chancellor. The last legislation sent to the Governor on May 8 was the Tamil Nadu Land Consolidation (for Special Projects) Bill, 2023.

Significantly, on May 4, Governor R.N. Ravi, who took charge in September 2021, had in an interview to an English daily said, “There is no Bill pending before the Raj Bhavan or the Governor.” Mr. Ravi had said he had “withheld” assent to eight Bills pertaining to universities and the Tamil Nadu Siddha Medical University Bill, 2022, to establish a Siddha university near Chennai.

However, the same day, the then Minister for Industries, Thangam Thennarasu, said 17 Bills adopted by the Assembly and sent to the Governor were “pending”. “In so far as the administration is concerned, he [the Governor] has kept them pending without granting assent. That is it. He cannot seek to move past it through a mere ‘word play’,” Mr. Thennarasu had said. “The Governor must explain the legal distinction between keeping the Bills ‘pending’ and ‘withholding’ them,” he had added.

The response under the RTI Act indicated that the government had since received confirmation of action from the Governor on at least five of the 17 Bills, which Mr. Thennarasu had said were “pending” on May 4.

The other Bills that, according to the Law Department’s response, are “pending” with the Governor are the Tamil Nadu Universities Laws (Amendment Bill), 2022; the Chennai University (Amendment) Bill, 2022 (to be reserved by the Governor for the consideration of the President); Bills related to amendment to the Acts governing the Dr. Ambedkar Law University, Dr. MGR Medical University, Agricultural University, Tamil University (Second Amendment); and the Tamil Nadu Universities Laws (Second Amendment) Bill, 2022; the Tamil Nadu Fisheries University (Amendment) Bill, 2023; and The TANUVAS (Amendment) Bill, 2023.

Most of these Bills sought to empower the State government to appoint the Vice-Chancellor of the university. One Bill pertained to inclusion of the Finance Secretary as Syndicate Member at 10 State universities.

Except the Land Consolidation Bill, the other two pending Bills passed this year were sent to the Raj Bhavan before April 28, 2023, i.e., prior to the Governor’s interview in May.

The Hindu on Friday reached out to the Raj Bhavan, asking if any Bills sent by the government on or before April 30, 2023, were pending with the Governor; and for details of the Bills for which he had withheld assent. However, it did not receive any response as on Sunday.

According to the RTI Act response, Mr. Ravi had granted assent to 48 Bills last year and 21 Bills this year, including the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Act, 2022, which was re-adopted by the Assembly after he had returned it earlier.

(With inputs from Vignesh Radhakrishnan.)

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