The Supreme Court has voiced its disapproval of governors taking extended time to grant assent to bills passed by state assemblies, emphasizing that such delays should be addressed before reaching the top court. Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud expressed his concerns, questioning why these matters needed to come before the Supreme Court, and stated that governors should take action in a more timely manner.
Supreme Court Expresses Concern Over Governors Delaying State Bills
The Punjab government’s petition, which challenges the alleged delay by Governor Banwarilal Purohit in granting assent to bills passed by the state assembly, has been scheduled for a hearing on Friday. The Supreme Court bench also highlighted a similar situation in Telangana, where the governor acted on pending bills only after the state government filed a petition. The court emphasized that governors should be aware that they are not elected authorities and should act promptly on legislative matters.
CJI Chandrachud noted that in the case of Punjab, the assembly was adjourned sine die on March 22, 2022, without being prorogued, and it was subsequently reconvened. He questioned whether this was in line with the constitutional framework and suggested that a balance must be struck between the Chief Minister and the Governor.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the court that the Governor had taken “appropriate decisions”
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the court that the Governor had taken “appropriate decisions” on the bills and promised to provide the exact status of the bills by Friday. Mehta also expressed concern over the deliberate non-proroguing of the assembly, suggesting that it was being kept open to exploit certain privileges and influence people.
The state government, represented by senior counsel AM Singhvi and Advocate General Gurminder Singh, highlighted the impact of pending bills on governance, including those related to fiscal management, GST amendments, and gurdwara management. It was revealed that four bills passed by the Punjab Assembly on July 24, 2023, were sent to the Governor but had not been acted upon under Article 200 of the Constitution. The Governor’s recommendation was sought for three bills, and two of them had already received recommendations.
Additionally, the Kerala government has filed a similar petition against the Governor’s inaction on state bills, further underscoring the need for prompt decision-making in such matters. The Bench is expected to address the Kerala Government’s petition on Friday.
Governor Banwarilal Purohit’s delay in approving bills, including those related to fiscal responsibility, GST, and stamp duty amendments, has led to growing concerns about the efficient functioning of governance in Punjab.