What is the Power of the Governor over State Bills?

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What is the Power of the Governor over State Bills? Blog Image

Overview:

The Supreme Court recently expressed concern over Governors of various states refraining from acting on bills passed by their respective State Assemblies and waiting for Supreme Court intervention before granting assent to such bills.

About Power of the Governor over State Bills

  • Article 200 of the Indian Constitution includes the process for a state bill to be presented to the Governor for assent.
  • It provides for four alternative courses of action for a Governor when a bill after being passed by the legislature, is presented to him/her for assent.
    • Give assent to the bill
    • Withhold assent
    • Return the bill to the state legislature, requesting to reconsider some provisions of the bill, or the bill itself
  • However, if the legislature again passes the bill with/without accepting any of the amendments suggested by the Governor, it is constitutionally bound to give assent to the Bill.
    • Reserve the bill for the consideration of the President
  • This reservation is mandatory when the bill passed by the State Legislature endangers the position of the State High Court.
  • Article 201:
    • It states that when a bill is reserved for the consideration of the President, the President can give assent to the bill or withhold assent.
    • The President may also direct the Governor to return the bill (if it is not a Money Bill) to the House or Houses of the Legislature of the State for reconsideration.
  • However, the Governor can reserve a bill and not grant assent in certain circumstances. This includes if the bill is
    • against the provisions of the Constitution
    • opposed to the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP)
    • against the larger interest of the country
    • of grave national importance
    • deals with compulsory acquisition of property under Article 31A of the Constitution.
  • Previous rulings of SC:
    • A Constitution Bench clarified that the Constitution does not impose any time limit within which the Governor should provide assent to bills.
    • However, it maintained that the Governor must honour the will of the Legislature and can act only in harmony with their Council of Ministers.
    • It also noted that causing delay to assent bills will be an arbitrary exercise, which in itself is against the spirit of the constitution.

Q1) What are Directive Principles of State Policies (DPSPs)?

The Constitution lays down certain Directive Principles of State Policy, which though not justiciable, are 'fundamental in governance of the country', and it is the duty of the State to apply these principles in making laws. These lay down that the State shall strive to promote the welfare of people by securing and protecting as effectively as it may, a social order, in which justice-social, economic and political-shall form in all institutions of national life.

Source: Governor must act on Bills passed by State legislature: Supreme Court on Punjab Governor's inaction