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T.N. Speaker favours time frame to decide on Bills

Context:

Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker questioned why the President does not provide reasons for withholding assent and returning a Bill passed by the State Assembly.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Constitution (Constitutional Provisions, Legislature)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Legislative Powers of the Governor
  2. What can a President do after a bill is reserved by a Governor?
  3. Issues Highlighted by the T.N. Speaker
  4. Recent Developments on the Issues raised by the T.N. Speaker
  5. More on Veto Powers of the President

Legislative Powers of the Governor

  • Governor has powers to summon and prorogue state legislature and dissolve the state assembly.
  • He addresses the first session of the state legislature after the general elections in the state.
  • He also appoints 1/6th members of the State Legislative Council in states wherever there is a bicameral legislature.
  • He also nominates one member in the state Legislative Assembly from the Anglo-Indian Community if, in his view, the community is not well represented.

All the bills passed by the state legislatures are sent to the Governor for assent and once a bill is sent to the Governor for assent, he can:

  1. give assent to the bill
  2. withhold the assent
  3. return the bill to the legislature for reconsideration (if it is not a money bill). If the bill is repassed by the legislature with or without amendment, the Governor has to give assent to the bill.
  4. Reserve the bill for consideration of the President in circumstances when the bill violates the Constitution or is against directive principles of state policy or may involve some kind of conflict with union powers or is against the larger interest of country and people or may endanger the position of the high court in the state.

As per provisions of Article 213, the Governor has special legislative power of promulgating the ordinances during the recess of the State legislature.

  • To issue an ordinance, the Governor must be satisfied with the circumstances that make it necessary for him/her to take immediate action.

Governor cannot promulgate an ordinance in any of the three situations:

  1. If the ordinance has the provisions which of embodied in a bill would require the President’s sanction.
  2. If the ordinance has the provisions which the Governor would reserve as a bill containing them for the President’s sanction.
  3. If an act of the state legislature has the same provisions that would be invalid without the assent of the President.

All ordinances promulgated by the Governor in the state have the same effect and force.

  • The ordinance must be laid before the state legislature when it reassembles and it must be upheld by the State legislature, failure to which the ordinance would be invalid.
  • Governor decides on the question of disqualification of members of the state legislature in consultation with the Election Commission.

Governor lays the reports of the State Finance Commission, the State Public Service Commission and the Comptroller and Auditor-General relating to the accounts of the state, before the state legislature.

What can a President do after a bill is reserved by a Governor?

When Governor reserves a bill passed by the State legislature for consideration of the President (Veto over State Legislation), the President can:

  1. Give his assent to the bill, or
  2. Withhold his assent to the bill, or
  3. Direct the Governor to return the bill for reconsideration of the state legislature and if the State Legislature passes the bill again (with or without Amendments) – it is NOT obligatory for President to give assent to such a bill.

Issues Highlighted by the T.N. Speaker

  • The governors sometimes sat over the Bills without giving assent or returning the Bills for an indefinite period, even though the Constitution required it to be done as soon as possible.
  • The governors were also taking months together to reserve the Bills for the assent of the President even though it was to be done immediately.
  • This erodes the authority of the legislatures and the governors, though heads of the state executive, are appointed by the Union government.
  • The governors sometimes sat over the Bills without giving assent or returning the Bills for an indefinite period, even though the Constitution required it to be done as soon as possible.
  • The governors were also taking months together to reserve the Bills for the assent of the President even though it was to be done immediately.
  • This erodes the authority of the legislatures and the governors, though heads of the state executive, are appointed by the Union government.

Recent Developments on the Issues raised by the T.N. Speaker

  • The Speaker’s comments assume significance in the backdrop of a Bill passed by the Tamil Nadu Assembly in September, 2021 seeking exemption for students from the state from the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) required for undergraduate medical college admissions.
  • The Tamil Nadu assembly passed a resolution in 2018 regarding the release of the seven prisoners convicted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. The resolution was sent to the then Governor but he did not take any action for more than two years.

More on Veto Powers of the President

Absolute Veto

Withholding assent to a bill passed by the Parliament, after which the bill ends and does not become an act.

Absolute veto is usually used in the following cases:

  • With respect to private members’ bills (i.e., bills introduced by any member of Parliament who is not a minister)
  • With respect to the government bills when the cabinet resigns (after the passage of the bills but before the assent by the President) and the new cabinet advises the President not to give his assent to such bills.

Suspensive Veto

  • Returning a bill for reconsideration of the Parliament. However, if the bill is passed again by the Parliament with or without amendments and again presented to the President, it is obligatory for the President to give his assent to the bill.
  • This is not possible in the case of Money Bills and the President can either give his assent to a money bill or withhold his assent to a money bill but cannot return it for the reconsideration of the Parliament.

Pocket Veto

  • Keeping the bill pending for an indefinite period without giving it assent, or rejecting it or returning it.
  • This is possible because the Constitution does not prescribe any time-limit within which he has to take the decision with respect to a bill presented to him for his assent. (In the case of the USA, the time limit is just 10 days.)

Veto power NOT Provided to the President – Qualified veto

  • The qualified veto power can be exercised by the American President under which the bills passed by Parliament to the President must be sent back to the Legislature within 10 days if he/she decides to withhold it or does not give his/her approval.
  • Then the same bill can be overridden by the legislature with a higher or special majority.

-Source: The Hindu

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