New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday took a serious view of Punjab and Tamil Nadu Governors for allegedly withholding and delaying bills of respective states.
The apex court told the Punjab Governor, “You are playing with fire,” as it held that being the titular head of the state he cannot cast doubt on the validity of an Assembly session or withhold his decision indefinitely on bills passed by the House.
While terming as a “matter of serious concern” the alleged delay by Tamil Nadu Governor R.N. Ravi in giving assent to Bills passed by the Assembly, the top court sought the Centre’s response on the state government’s petition accusing the Raj Bhavan of “sitting over” 12 legislations.
It said under Article 200 of the Constitution, when a Bill was presented to the Governor, he shall declare either that he assents to the Bill or that he withholds assent therefrom or that he reserves the Bill for the consideration of the President.
The top court, which pulled up Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit for “indefinitely sitting over” bills passed by the Assembly saying “You are playing with fire”, also questioned the state government for repeatedly adjourning the Budget session sine die instead of proroguing it. It, however, upheld the Speaker’s supremacy in conducting the business of the House or adjourning its sessions.
“Our country has been running on established traditions and conventions and they need to be followed,” a bench of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justices J.B. Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said.
The bench said “no other option” was available to the Governor under Article 200 of the Constitution except for the actions stipulated for him under the provision on the Bills presented to him.
The bench also issued notice to the Centre and sought the assistance of the Attorney General or Solicitor General in resolving the issue of alleged delay by Tamil Nadu Governor R.N. Ravi in giving assent to bills.
“The issues which have been raised in the Writ Petition, raise a matter of serious concern. From the tabulated statements which have been submitted before this court, it appears that as many as 12 Bills which have been submitted to the Governor under Article 200 have not elicited any further action. Other matters such as proposals for the grant of sanction for prosecution; proposals for the premature release of prisoners; and for the appointment of the members of the Public Service Commission are pending,” it said.
The bench said, “Bearing in mind the situation, we issue notice to the second respondent, namely, the Union of India represented by the secretary to the government in the ministry of home affairs. We request the Attorney General for India or, in his absence, the Solicitor General of India to assist the court.”