NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday questioned the delay on the part of Tamil Nadu governor R.N. Ravi in disposing of the bills submitted for his assent since January 2020, asking as to why should governors wait for parties to move the top court with their grievances.
A three-judge bench, headed by CJI D.Y. Chandrachud, expressed its displeasure over the fact that Mr Ravi only acted on the pending bills after the November 10 order passed by the apex court in the Punjab government case.
“Our concern is that our order was passed on November 10. These bills have been pending since January 2020. It means that the governor took the decision after the court issued notice. What was the governor doing for three years? Why should the governor wait for the parties to approach the Supreme Court,” the bench asked.
The top court deferred the hearing on the Tamil Nadu government’s plea alleging delay by Mr Ravi in granting assent to bills passed by the state Assembly to December 1.
The court also took note of the fact that the Tamil Nadu Assembly has re-adopted 10 bills returned by the governor.
“Let us await the decision of the governor (on re-adopted) bills,” the bench also comprising Justices J.B. Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said after attorney-general (A-G) R. Venkataramani, appearing for the office of the governor, sought deferment of the hearing.
Underlining the delay in grant of assent to the bills, the bench said the issue was whether there was a delay in the discharge of the constitutional functions entrusted to the office of the governors.
The bench was responding to the submissions of the A-G that Mr Ravi had taken charge on November 18, 2021, and the delay cannot be attributed to the governor as there were many “intricate issues” involved with many bills.
The bench said at present only five bills were pending assent before the governor as the Assembly had re-enacted 10 other bills.
“Once re-passed, the bills are on the same footing as the money bill,” the bench said, adding “let the governor take fresh decisions on these re-adopted bills”.
Referring to Article 200 of the Constitution, the bench said the governors can “grant assent/withhold assent or reserve the bill for the President’s consideration” and he may return the bill for reconsideration by the House.
The TN Assembly re-adopted 10 bills in a special sitting on Saturday, days after they were returned by governor Ravi.
The bills related to different departments, including law, agriculture and higher education, were passed in the wake of the governor returning those on November 13. The re-adopted bills were later sent to the governor for his assent.