• India
  • Nov 21

Explainer - Governor’s right to withhold assent to Bills

• The Supreme Court took up petitions moved separately by Tamil Nadu and Kerala governments and expressed its displeasure at the delay on the part of the governors in giving assent to Bills passed by state Assemblies.

• In the last few months, Punjab and Telangana also approached the Supreme Court, seeking directives to their respective governors.

• Last week, the Tamil Nadu Assembly met for a special sitting and re-adopted 10 Bills that were returned by Governor R.N. Ravi.

• The SC bench noted that once a Bill is sent back to the governor following a re-adoption by the Assembly it acquires the status of a Money Bill that the governor shall not withhold his assent.

Governor’s role in approving a Bill

• According to Article 168, the legislature of a state shall consist of the governor and the Legislative Assembly.

• He/she cannot be a member of either House of that Legislature. 

• In order to become an Act, every Bill passed by the state legislature must receive his/her assent or, having been reserved by him for President’s consideration, receive the assent of the President. 

• If the governor or the President, as the case may be, withholds his/her assent, the Bill fails to become law.

• Article 200 of the Constitution bestows on the governor the power to provide assent to the Bills passed by the state legislature.

• Article 200 provides that when a Bill passed by the state legislature, is presented to the governor, the governor may take any of the following steps:

a) He/she assents to the Bill, or

b) He/she withholds assent therefrom, or

c) He/she reserves the Bill for the President’s consideration, or

d) The Governor may, as soon as possible, return the Bill (other than a Money Bill) with a message for reconsideration by the state legislature. But, if the Bill is again passed by the legislature with or without amendment, the governor shall not withhold assent therefrom (First Proviso).

e) If in the opinion of the governor, the Bill, if it became law, would so derogate from the powers of the High Court as to endanger its constitutional position, he shall not assent to but shall reserve it for the consideration of the President (Second Proviso).

• If the governor reserves a Bill for President’s consideration, the enactment of the Bill then depends on the assent or refusal of assent by the President.

• In the case of a reserved Bill, the President shall, under Article 201, either declare his assent or withhold his assent thereto. Instead of following either of these courses, the President may (if the Bill is not a Money Bill) direct the governor to return the Bill together with a message to the state legislature for reconsideration. The state legislature shall then reconsider the Bill within six months of its receipt and, if it is again passed, it shall be presented again to the President for his consideration. In contrast with the power of the governor regarding a reconsidered Bill, it is not obligatory for the President to give his assent to a reconsidered Bill.

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