Governor holds no veto power over Bills, says SC

Governor holds no veto power over Bills, says SC


The Supreme Court has ruled that if a Governor refuses to sign a bill, he must return it to the State assembly “as soon as possible” with a request to reconsider the proposed legislation.

What are the powers of the governors over the state bills?

  • Article 200: The procedure for presenting a bill enacted by a state’s legislative assembly to the governor for ratification is outlined in Article 200 of the Indian Constitution. The Governor can choose from the following:
  • Grant Assent: The Governor may sign the Bill into law by approving it.
  • Return for Reconsideration: The Assembly may receive a request from the Governor to review certain sections of the bill or the entire bill.
  • Reserve for the president: The Governor may set the Bill aside for the President’s consideration. This is required under certain circumstances, such as when the Bill violates the Constitution or the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP), or when it jeopardizes the authority of the state high court.
  • Withhold  Assent: Even so, an option, this is not commonly exercised by the governors as it can seen as showing favouritism 

What is the background of the recent judgements passed over the Governor’s powers?

  • The ruling follows a petition filed by the Punjab government challenging the Governor’s decision to withhold assent to certain bills.
  • It outlines concepts that are expected to have ramifications in comparable cases, such as one in Tamil Nadu, where the Governor withheld assent to ten critical bills.

What can the governor do if he doesn’t support the bill passed in the legislature?

  • The Supreme Court underlines the Governor’s responsibility to return a law to the State legislature “as soon as possible” if the assent is withheld.
  • This obligation comes with a message requesting the lawmakers to reconsider the proposed legislation.
  • If the State Assembly reintroduces the law, with or without revisions, the Governor has no choice but to grant assent.
  • The legislature alone has the last say on whether to adopt the Governor’s advice, as provided in the message.

What are the constitutional principles for the governor regarding the bills?

  • The court emphasizes democratic constitutional principles, particularly the importance of not permitting the unelected Head of State (Governor) to use veto power over the decisions of a properly elected legislature.
  • Withholding assent without further action would be considered a violation of the Constitution.
  • The decision emphasizes the constitutional need for expediency in returning the bill to the legislature.
  • The phrase “as soon as possible” is considered a constitutional obligation, and failure to act swiftly is considered incompatible with this language.
  • The court is concerned about the potential abuse of the Governor’s ability to withhold assent, which could result in the indefinite withholding of measures.
  • Keeping a lawfully approved bill for indefinite durations is judged incompatible with constitutional language and concepts.

What is the recent incident where the governor was causing Gubernatorial Procrastination?

  • Delay in Handling Bills: The Kerala administration has brought attention to the fact that out of the eight bills that were approved by the State Assembly, three have been sitting with the Governor for over two years, and the other three for over a year. Concerns have been raised by the Governor’s protracted failure to consider the Bills.
  • Threat to Constitutional Foundations: According to the government, the Governor’s actions, in which he allows bills to languish for long periods, pose a threat to the fundamental principles that form the basis of the Constitution. This covers the fundamentals of democratic good governance and the rule of law.
  • Declaration from the Supreme Court: The State government has asked the Supreme Court to rule that the Governor must act quickly to consider any bill that is brought before him. The administration also wants the governor to sign an order directing him to expeditiously settle the outstanding bills.

What is the way forward?

  • Set Reasonable Deadlines: To avoid unjustified delays in the governors’ consideration of state bills, reasonable deadlines should be set for the governors to act on bills, such as giving their assent, sending them back for reconsideration, or reserving them for the president. These deadlines could be established by the Supreme Court.
  • Increased Transparency: When a governor decides to withhold consent, for example, they should be compelled to give a transparent explanation for their decision. Ensuring that choices are made in compliance with the law and the Constitution will be facilitated by this.
  • Respect for Constitutional Principles: Governors must uphold the democratic, federalist, and legal principles outlined in the Constitution. It is imperative to guarantee that governors refrain from acting in an arbitrary or politically motivated manner.
  • Legal Recourse: It would be beneficial to enhance the accessibility and effectiveness of the legal recourse options for contesting the actions of the governor. This will guarantee that governors follow the law and enable speedier dispute settlement.
  • Political Communication: Concerns and differences regarding bills can be resolved more cooperatively and constructively when state governments and governors engage in political communication. In the interest of the governance of the state, cooperation between the two parties is crucial.