Supreme Court Asserts Governor’s Role in Legislative Process

Supreme Court Law Insider

LI Network

Published on: November 11, 2023 at 12:31 IST

The Supreme Court delivered a stern message to the Punjab governor, emphasizing that as the titular head of the state, he cannot cast doubt on the validity of an assembly session or indefinitely withhold decisions on bills passed by the House.

The court warned, “You are playing with fire,” highlighting the governor’s constitutional obligations.

Under Article 200 of the Constitution, the court clarified that when a bill is presented to the governor, he must declare his assent, withhold assent, or reserve the bill for the President’s consideration.

The apex court criticized the Punjab governor for “indefinitely sitting over” bills and questioned the state government’s practice of adjourning the Budget session sine die instead of proroguing it.

The court upheld the Speaker’s authority in conducting the business of the House or adjourning its sessions, emphasizing the established traditions and conventions that need to be followed in the country.

The ruling affirmed the Speaker’s jurisdiction in adjourning the session held on June 19-20, 2023, stating that any attempt to cast doubt on the session would pose grave perils to democracy.

The court stressed the governor’s limited options under Article 200 and urged a decision on the pending bills based on the constitutional validity of the legislative session.

While clarifying that it did not express an opinion on the governor’s constitutional authority, the court disposed of the petition, urging the governor to proceed with decisions on bills submitted for assent.

During the hearing, the Punjab government alleged that the governor had withheld assent due to doubts over the constitutional validity of the assembly session.

The court noted that in a parliamentary democracy, real power lies with elected representatives, and the governor is intended to be a statesman guiding the government on constitutional matters.

The ruling brings attention to the ongoing feud between Governor Banwarilal Purohit and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government, led by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann. The court’s decision underscores the significance of adhering to constitutional principles and established practices in the legislative process.

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