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Role of Governor In Ascending A Bill UPSC NOTE

 Role of Governor in ascending a bill

  • Article 200 of the Constitution deals with the powers of the Governor with regard to assent given to bills passed by the State legislature and other powers of the Governor such as reserving the bill for the President’s consideration.

  • Bill passed by the Legislature of a State, is presented to the Governor, he has four options:

    • Governor assents to the Bill

    • Governor withholds assent

    • Governor reserves the Bill for the consideration of the President

    • Governor returns the Bill to the Legislature for reconsideration.

  • First proviso of the Article 200:

    • It states that after a Bill is presented to Governor, he may, as soon as possible, return the Bill if it is not a Money Bill with a message to reconsider the Bill as a whole or any part thereof. 

    • The House has six months to decide whether or not to accept this request. 

    • Once the House returns the Bill to the Governor, he has no choice but to give his assent whether or not his recommendations have been accepted.

  • Second proviso of the Article 200:

    • It gives the Governor discretion to refer a Bill to the President if he is of the opinion that the Bill, if passed, would take away the powers of the High Court. 

    • The procedure to be followed when Presidential assent for such a Bill is required is set out in Article 201 of the Constitution.

  • The Governor of India enjoys:

    • Absolute veto

    • Suspensive veto (except on money bills).



Other discretion

  • There are certain instances where a Governor can exercise his discretion independent of the Council of Ministers.

  • Whether a Governor has discretion or not in a particular matter is significant since, as per Article 163(2) of the Constitution, this decision of his cannot be challenged.

Is there any time limit for ascending bill?

  • Article 200 which does not prescribe a timeline for the Governor to provide assent to Bills sent by the Legislative Assembly.


Issues associated with the absence of time limit

  • The absence of time limit to assent the bill has been used to advantage by the Governors of various Opposition-ruled States to obfuscate the mandate of democratically elected governments.

  • Examples : 

    • Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Bill, 2022 (passed by the Tamil Nadu Assembly), Kerala Lok Ayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2022 (passed by the Kerala Assembly).

    • The situation is no different in Telangana and West Bengal as well.

  • If the Governor  does not act in accordance with the Constitution and sits on the Bills indefinitely, he/she is creating a situation where governance of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with constitutional provisions.

    • In such a situation, the government of the State has a constitutional duty to invoke Article 355 and inform the President about it.

  • When the Constitution gives certain options regarding ascending a bill to the Governor he is required to exercise one of them. 

  • Since sitting on a Bill passed by the Assembly is not an option given by the Constitution, the Governor, by doing so, is only acting against constitutional direction.

  • In the realm of administrative law, unreasonable delay in granting administrative sanction would be violative of the rule of law.

Is there a time limit needed?

  • Governor will have to grant assent or decline the bill within a ‘reasonable time’.

  • ‘Reasonable time’ is what is necessary, under the circumstances, to do conveniently what the contract or duty requires should be done in a particular case.

  • The concept that the Queen reigns, but the Ministers rule is the bedrock of the Westminster system.

  • The Governor’s duty is only to ensure that an elected government is working within the parameters of the Constitution.

  • It does not mean that the Governor can sit on the Bills indefinitely, merely because there is no time limit prescribed for the Governor to decide on the bills.

  • There is a view that the Governor can withhold or assent to a Bill only on ministerial advice (similar to Article 154).

  • The Constitution should be read contextually to provide a meaning that the Governor must act on the Bills within a reasonable time.

  • The constitutional silences should not give way for unconstitutional inaction, leaving space for anarchy in the rule of law.

  • So, it falls to the Supreme Court to fix a reasonable time frame for Governors to take a decision on a Bill passed by the Assembly in the larger interest of federalism in the country.


Famous judgments

Purushothaman Namboothiri vs State of Kerala (1962):

  • This judgment does not deal with the justiciability of the process of assent.

  • A Constitution Bench of the SC clarified that the Constitution does not impose any time limit within which the Governor should provide assent to Bills.

  • The Governor must honour the will of the Legislature and the President or a Governor can act only in harmony with their Council of Ministers.

  • When a Governor withholds assent he is undoing the will of the Legislature through unconstitutional devices, thereby directly attacking the federal edifice of the Constitution.

  • Causing delay to assent Bills will be an arbitrary exercise, which in itself is constitutionally abhorrent.


Hoechst Pharmaceuticals Ltd. And ... vs State Of Bihar And Others (1983):

  • The Court had held that a Governor reserves a Bill for the consideration of the President in exercise of his discretion. 

  • The Court cannot go into the question of whether it was necessary for the Governor to reserve the Bill for the consideration of the President.

  • Thus, this case too does not deal with the justiciability of assent.



Shamsher Singh v State of Punjab (1974):

  • The Supreme Court held that a President or a Governor can exercise their discretion independent of their Ministers only where the Constitution expressly permits them to do so.

  • It held that de Smith’s statement on royal assent would hold good even in the context of Indian democracy for both Presidents and Governors (“Refusal of the royal assent on the ground that the monarch strongly disapproved of a bill or that it was intensely controversial would nevertheless be unconstitutional.”)



Nabam Rebia and Bamang Felix vs Dy. Speaker:

  • The Court also held that in so far as Article 200 is concerned, the Governor exercises discretion only with regard to whether a Bill ought to be reserved for consideration of the President or not. 

  • This is important because the Court has also held that Article 163(2) has to be understood in the context of Article 163(1), meaning only those matters where the Constitution expressly permits the Governor to act autonomously cannot be challenged before a court of a law. 

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Role of Governor In Ascending A Bill UPSC NOTE
Role of Governor In Ascending A Bill UPSC NOTE
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