Resolve Impasse With CM, Supreme Court Tells Tamil Nadu Governor

New Delhi: Tamil Nadu is among several non-BJP ruled states where the government has been at loggerheads with the Governor.

The matter has reached Supreme Court, and the top court made it clear in no uncertain terms during recent hearings that Governors cannot sit on Bills for weeks and months on end.

On Friday, the Supreme Court asked Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi to hold a meeting with Chief Minister MK Stalin and resolve the impasse over non-grant of assent to Bills passed by the state legislative Assembly.

“We would like the Governor to resolve the impasse. We will appreciate it if the Governor resolves the impasse with the chief minister. I think it would be appropriate if the Governor invites the CM,” a three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud, observed.

The apex court also questioned the procedure adopted by the Governor in sending the Bills to President Droupadi Murmu after the state assembly re-enacted them after the Governor withheld his assent.

“As per Article 200 of the Constitution, there are three options for a Governor — he can assent or withhold assent, or he can reserve the bill for (consideration of the) President. These are all alternatives available,” the CJI said.

“In this case, the Governor initially said ‘I withhold assent’. Once he withholds the assent, there is no question of him reserving it for the President. He can’t. He has to follow one of the three options — assent, withhold the assent or refer it to the President. So first and foremost, once he withholds the assent, then he can never say that now I am referring it to the President. Second, once he withholds the assent, he can’t kill the Bill right there. He can’t stall the bill there. Once he withholds the assent, the proviso does not give him the fourth option,” the CJI told Attorney General of India (AGI) R Venkataramani, who appeared for the office of Tamil Nadu Governor.

The AGI responded by saying that the proviso (a condition attached) to Article 200, which enables the Assembly to re-enact the Bills, will come into operation only if the Governor is returning the bill to the state assembly with a message.

“According to you, the Governor has an independent power of withholding assent? We will consider that,” the CJI said.

The next date of hearing was set for December 11.

The Tamil Nadu government had filed a plea alleging delay by Governor Ravi in granting assent to bills.

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