THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The tension between the Left Democratic Front (LDF) Government and Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan escalated with the former moving the Supreme court against him for the second time.
The Government has accused the Governor of trying to “defeat the rights of the people” of the State by indefinitely sitting on crucial bills, especially those addressing Post-Covid public health concerns.
“The conduct of the governor in keeping the Bills pending for long and indefinite periods of time is manifestly arbitrary and also violates Article 14(right to equality) of the Constitution. Additionally, it defeats the rights of the people of the State of Kerala under Article 21 (right to life) of the Constitution, by denying them the benefits of welfare legislation enacted by the 461-page special leave petition appeals against the Kerala High Court judgment of November 30 last year, which refused to fix a time limit for the Governor to deal with the Bills presented to him. The state further said that as many as eight bills were currently pending with the Governor. Some of these bills have been held back for over two years. Senior advocate K K Venugopal, who appeared for the state told the SC that the governor remained unfazed even after it had moved the court against him.
The petition said the appeared to be of the view that granting assent or otherwise dealing with the Bills is a matter entrusted to him in his absolute discretion, to decide whenever he p0leases. This is a complete subversion of the Constitution, he pointed out.
It is not as if Kerala is the only state to have approached the apex court. Many other States They have also moved the SC against the Governor for “unreasonably” delaying the passing of the crucial into law.
The Kerala Government’s petition is scheduled to be hear on November 30.
Meanwhile, in a stinging rebuff to the Punjab Governor, Banwarilal Purohit, the SC has ordered that a Governor cannot sit on the Bills passed by a State legislature after casting doubts on the validity of the Assembly session in which the proposed laws were passed with overwhelming majority by the elected representatives of the people. The Punjab Government had complained that the State Governor had held back several crucial Bills on Sikh gurdwaras, the police and the higher education passed in a special sitting of the Budget Session of the Vidhan Sabha on June 19 and 20.
The apex court warned the Punjab Governor by saying that “you are playing with fire”. The court also directed to him to take a decision on the long pending bills presented to him for assent. The Court reminded the Governors that they were not elected representatives of the people. “Real power vests with the elected representatives of the people in a parliamentary democracy. The Governor, an appointee of the President, is a titular head of the State. The Governor also acts on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers except in areas where the Constitution gives him the discretion. The power to take decisions affecting the Governance of the State or the State or the nation is essentially entrusted to the elected arm of the State.
The apex court severely criticized the Tamil Nadu Governor R N Ravi as well for inexplicably delaying or even failing to consider and assent to the 12 crucial bills passed by the State legislature. This is impeding the day-to-day governance.
The ‘supreme’ criticism of the conduct of Punjab and TN Governors is a warning to Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan too. The petition against him will be taken up on November 20. In his reaction to the State government’s petition before the SC, Khan said he would go by the letter and spirit of the Constitution! Khan denied any differences with the Kerala Government. But he said the University bills are money bills, which cannot be passed by the Assembly without prior approval of the Governor. (IPA Service)