Veto Powers of President of India


10:24 AM

1 min read
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The recent decision by President Droupadi Murmu to withhold assent to certain Bills passed by the Kerala Legislature has sparked a significant constitutional debate. This move by the Kerala government to challenge the President’s decision before the Supreme Court is unprecedented and opens up a Pandora’s box regarding the scope of judicial review of the President’s veto powers.

The Power to Withhold

The President of India, as the constitutional head, holds the power to grant or withhold assent to Bills passed by the state legislatures. This power is not absolute and is exercised under specific circumstances. The Kerala University Laws (Amendment No. 2) Bill 2022, University Law Amendment Bill, 2022, and the University Law Amendment Bill, 2021, are recent examples where the President exercised this veto power.

The Grounds for Withholding Assent

The President’s decision to withhold assent is typically influenced by several factors, including the possibility of the Bill being unconstitutional, infringing upon the powers of the Centre, or being against the public interest. However, in this case, the Kerala government argues that the subject matters of the Bills were confined to the State List of the Constitution, which is within the state’s legislative powers, and were not in conflict with any Central legislation.

The Role of the Governor

The role of the Governor has also come under scrutiny. The State contends that the Governor should not have referred the Bills to the President, as they did not fall into the categories requiring prior Presidential assent. This raises questions about the discretionary powers of the Governor and whether they were exercised appropriately in this context.

The Path to the Supreme Court

On March 22, the issue will be brought before the Supreme Court, which will consider the writ petition filed by Kerala. The State seeks a directive for the Governor to act on the Bills and argues for the judicial review of the President’s decisions.

Implications for the Future

The outcome of this legal challenge could have far-reaching implications for the federal structure of India. It could redefine the boundaries of the veto powers of the President and the role of the Governor in referring Bills for Presidential assent. Moreover, it could set a precedent for the judicial review of the President’s decisions, potentially altering the dynamics between the State and the Centre.

As the nation awaits the Supreme Court’s verdict, the debate on the veto powers of the President of India continues to stir the waters of constitutional law and governance.