The Supreme Court on Wednesday noted that Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan has made decisions on eight bills and directed him to meet Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, along with the relevant minister, to discuss the bills. The court expressed hope for some “political sagacity” to prevail.
A bench led by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud took note of the Attorney General R Venkataramani’s submissions, representing the governor’s office, stating that out of the eight bills, seven have been “reserved” for consideration by the President, while one has received assent from Khan.
The Apex Court granted permission to the state government to amend its plea, seeking guidelines for governors on granting or declining assent to bills passed by the assembly within a time-bound manner.
The bench stated, “We will record that the governor will discuss the matter with both the chief minister and the minister in charge related to the Bill… Let us hope that some political sagacity takes over the state, and we hope some sagacity prevails. Otherwise, we are here to lay down the law and do our duty under the Constitution,” said the Chief Justice.
Initially considering disposing of the plea as the governor’s office had made decisions on the bills, the bench later decided to keep it pending to contemplate laying down guidelines on the issue.
Senior lawyer K K Venugopal, representing the state government, argued that it is time for the court to establish guidelines on when bills can be reserved for presidential assent, emphasizing that the governor cannot be allowed to delay the process as it hampers governance.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had instructed the additional chief secretary of the Kerala Governor to refer to its recent verdict in Punjab’s case, emphasizing that governors cannot “thwart the normal course of lawmaking.”
The Kerala government has alleged that the governor’s delay in considering the eight bills, by withholding assent, is “defeating the rights of the people.” The government claims that the governor’s inaction on the proposed legislations, which involve significant public interest and welfare measures, deprives and denies these benefits to the people due to the delay.