FPJ Editorial: Guidelines For Governors Overdue

FPJ Editorial: Guidelines For Governors Overdue

The recent decision of the Supreme Court to consider a petition urging the formulation of guidelines for state governors is a commendable move.

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Thursday, November 30, 2023, 08:57 PM IST
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Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan | PTI

The recent decision of the Supreme Court to consider a petition urging the formulation of guidelines for state governors is a commendable move. The case involving Kerala's Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, accused of delaying the assent to Bills passed by the State Assembly, gained prominence when the court inquired about the prolonged inaction on these Bills over a two-year period. It was during these proceedings that KK Venugopal, representing the state, appealed for comprehensive guidelines in such matters.

The Constitution currently remains silent on the timeframe within which governors should provide their assent to Bills passed by state legislatures, leading to situations where, especially in states governed by non-BJP parties, governors withhold their approval. A precedent from Punjab, where the state had to approach the Supreme Court due to a recalcitrant governor, underscores the urgency of addressing this constitutional lacuna. It becomes imperative to establish a maximum period within which governors must act on Bills, either giving their assent or returning them for reconsideration. Additionally, when Bills are forwarded to the President, a defined timeframe should guide her actions as well. Without such provisions, governors possess the potential to disrupt the legislative machinery in their respective states.

It would be fitting for other states to join this plea, collectively urging the Supreme Court to outline a comprehensive set of guidelines to address the challenges posed by gubernatorial delays in assenting to Bills. This proactive step is crucial for ensuring the smooth functioning of the legislative process and preventing undue hindrances caused by prolonged inaction. It is not the first time that the apex court has been asked to step in when the executive failed to take ameliorative action. Ideally, the President should have taken the initiative to prepare the guidelines and ensured that they were followed in letter and spirit.

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