Kerala HC Dismisses Petition Challenging Action of Governor Arif Mohammed Khan Withholding Bills Passed by State Legislature

Kerala HC Law Insider

Akansha Upadhyay

Published on: 30 November 2022 at 20:14 IST

The Kerala High Court dismissed a petition filed by a lawyer challenging the action of the Governor of Kerala to indefinitely suspend bills passed by the State Legislature without adopting any course envisaged under Article 200 of the Constitution.

The Court said that it cannot fix a time limit for the Governor to give assent to the Bills.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chaly passed the above order.

In this case, the Advocate P.V. submitting in the petition filed by Jeevesh, held that a constitutional crisis had arisen in the State due to non-exercise of discretionary powers by the Governor on the Bills presented by the State Legislature.

The petitioner contended that the Legislative Assembly of the State of Kerala had presented several bills to the Governor for his assent, but the bills were pending and stayed as the Governor had not given his assent nor had he exercised any option is available under Article 200 of the Constitution.

The petitioner claimed that upon his enquiry, he was able to ascertain that currently there were 6 Bills under consideration of the Governor, all of which were passed by the State Legislative Assembly months ago. The petitioner submitted that it is the constitutional obligation of the Governor to either assent to the bill or send it back for reconsideration or reserve it for the consideration of the President of India, but no such action has been taken on the bills sent to him so far.

“Since his office is a gubernatorial constitutional functionary, he is expected to act more fairly, cautiously, responsibly, and circumspectly. But it is seen that he is acting with a political agenda”, the petitioner alleged while also pointing out that the Governor had openly declared on several platforms, including print and visual media, that he would not assent to the Bills.

In this light, the petition seeks the Court to hold that the Governor’s action of indefinitely withholding the Bills without exercising the discretionary powers under Article 200 is arbitrary, contradictory, autocratic and contrary to constitutional values.

They have no power to stop such bills in perpetuity; declare that the Governor shall exercise discretionary powers under Article 200 on legislative bills presented by the State Government within a period of 2 months. Insertion or deletion of the phrase ‘or that he withholds consent’ from Article 200, and prescribing a time limit within which the discretionary powers are to be exercised.

Issuance of mandate to the respondents to consider and decide the constitutional amendment with regard to fixing the time for exercise of discretion; and to issue a direction in the nature of recommendation, suggestion or judicial advice, to implement, by appropriate amendment in the Constitution, the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission, the National Commission for the Review of the National Constitution, the Punchhi Commission in this regard.

Case Title: Adv. P.V. Jeevesh v. Union of India & Ors.

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