New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday, November 29, slammed Kerala governor Arif Mohammed Khan over the delay in clearing pending Bills.
“No reason has been given by the governor to keep the Bills pending”, Livelaw quoted Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud as saying. “The power of the governor cannot be utilised to pause the law-making exercise of the legislature.”
Just a day before the Supreme Court is set to take up the Kerala government’s petition against the governor, Arif Mohammed Khan referred seven of the eight pending Bills to President Droupadi Murmu on Tuesday, November 28. The Bills had been pending for nearly three years, awaiting his assent.
He cleared the Public Health Bill, 2021 on Tuesday. Among those referred to the President are Lok Ayukta (Amendment Bill); University Law Amendments Bill, 2022; and a Bill meant to amend the existing University Act.
During an earlier hearing in the writ petition filed by the Kerala government, the apex court had told the governor that he should send back the Bills if he finds anything objectionable with relevant observations rather than inordinately sitting on them. It had suggested the governor read its ruling in a similar petition filed by the Punjab government against its governor. A notice had already been served on Khan earlier.
The Pinarayi Vijayan government had moved the apex court against the governor twice this month over the issue of pending Bills.
In the first instance, on November 2, it approached the apex court accusing inaction on the part of Khan in relation to eight specific Bills passed by the state Assembly. Later, on November 8, the state government appealed against a Kerala high court ruling that declined to fix a timeline for the governor to clear Bills.
The petition filed on November 2 too had accused the governor of “subverting” the constitution and acting in an “arbitrary” manner by sitting on the Bills for an “indefinite period”, The Hindu had reported.
Challenging the high court order on November 8, the state government sought a declaration from the apex court “in relation to the inaction on the part of the… Governor of the State in relation to as many as 8 Bills passed by the State Legislature and presented to the Governor for his assent under Article 200 of the Constitution”, the Indian Express had reported.
This copy has been updated with the Supreme Court’s latest observations after it was first published.