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Governor's Role in Lawmaking: Analysis of Landmark Judgment



  Dec 21, 2023

Governor's Role in Lawmaking: Analysis of a Landmark Judgment




Context: The Supreme Court of India's recent judgment in "State of Punjab vs Principal Secretary to the Governor of Punjab and Another 2023 " offers a critical analysis of Article 200 of the Indian Constitution. The ruling, delivered by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, reinterprets the Governor's role in the legislative process.

Key Aspects of the Judgment:

1. Article 200 Interpretation: The judgment creatively interprets the first proviso of Article 200, which involves the Governor's options when a state legislature bill is presented for assent.

2. Governor's Power to Withhold Assent: Previously, it was presumed that the Governor’s power to withhold assent was absolute. The new interpretation, however, links withholding of assent with the obligation to return the bill for reconsideration, effectively limiting the Governor's power to deny assent.

3. Governor's Inaction on Bills: The judgment addresses the issue of Governors delaying decisions on bills, mandating prompt action to either assent or return them for reconsideration.

Governor's Role in Reserving Bills for President:

Constitutional Provision: Bills that potentially affect the powers of the High Court must be reserved for the President's consideration.

Governor's Discretion: The Constitution does not explicitly limit the kinds of bills a Governor can send to the President. This discretion has been used variably by different Governors, raising questions about its constitutional appropriateness.

Supreme Court's Scrutiny: The court is examining the extent of a Governor's discretion in reserving bills for the President, especially in cases where it might contravene the Constitution.

Implications for State Legislation:

Governor's Constitutional Duty: The Governor cannot send bills related solely to state subjects to the President, adhering to the federal legislative division scheme.

Governor’s Limited Role in Constitutional Validity: A Governor should return a bill to the Assembly for reconsideration if it appears unconstitutional, as the court, not the Governor or President, decides a law’s constitutional validity.

Conclusion:

This landmark judgment enhances legislative rights and clarifies the Governor's role in lawmaking, ensuring a more democratic and constitutional approach to the legislative process in India.

SRIRAM’s


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