The decision by the Tamil Nadu Governor to withhold approval for Bills related to universities in the state is a clear instance of constitutional tyranny. It represents a significant misuse of the authority bestowed by the Constitution to either grant or deny assent to Bills passed by the legislature.
- Constitutional Bodies
- Role of Governor
Governors rejecting Bills without cause undermines parliamentary democracy. Discuss in the context of recent disapproval of bills by the governor of Tamil Nadu. (15 marks, 250 words).
- The Bills in question primarily aim to transfer the power of appointing Vice-Chancellors of universities from the Governor to the State government.
- There is no valid reason for the Governor to disapprove of these Bills, except for a vested interest in retaining the powers vested in the capacity of the Chancellor.
- The rejection of these Bills seems to be a contentious reaction following the Supreme Court’s justified comments on Governors delaying the assent to pending Bills.
- In response, the DMK government promptly convened a special session of the Assembly and reapproved the same Bills.
- This raises the question of whether the government believed the Governor was obligated to grant assent if the Bills were reconsidered and passed again by the House.
What Happens when a Bill is Passed Second Time?
- Granting assent is a routine duty of the titular head of the state, and the exceptional power to withhold it should only be exercised sparingly and in cases where fundamental constitutional principles are at risk.
- Legally, these Bills have failed to become law, and there is no constitutional remedy for a House aggrieved by the rejection of its Bills.
- The proviso to Article 200, which makes the Governor’s assent mandatory for Bills passed a second time, does not apply to Bills for which assent has been “withheld,” essentially meaning “rejected.”
- If the government was aware of this situation and still chose to reintroduce the Bills, it could be interpreted as a political statement signalling its commitment to pursuing legislative measures.
- However, the fresh passage of the Bills allows the Governor to treat them as entirely new, providing him with the freedom to withhold assent once again.
- In a broader sense, the Governor’s actions bring attention to an undemocratic and anti-federal aspect of the Constitution, granting unchecked power to reject legislation passed by elected representatives.
Ongoing legal proceedings on the Governor’s powers underscore the fact that Governors are not elected officials. The Court should scrutinize whether providing this office with a veto over legislation violates parliamentary democracy, a fundamental aspect of the Constitution. A definitive judicial ruling is essential to curb the potential for partisan misuse of this power.