Court draws the red line for governors - Hindustan Times

Court draws the red line for governors

ByHT Editorial
Nov 21, 2023 10:50 PM IST

The battle between Raj Bhavan and the elected government is primarily a political one, not a constitutional one

In the unseemly battle for power between Raj Bhavans and elected governments in several states, the Supreme Court this week drew a new red line. The apex court on Monday expressed its displeasure at the delay by some governors in giving assent to bills passed by legislative assemblies and said that once a bill is sent back to Raj Bhavan following a re-adoption by the assembly, it acquires the status of a money bill that the governor must give his assent to. The court was hearing petitions moved separately by the Tamil Nadu and Kerala governments and asked for responses from their respective governors. The bench especially looked at Tamil Nadu, where governor RN Ravi returned 10 bills to the assembly days before the top court hearing. The assembly convened a special session, re-passed the 10 bills, and sent them to the governor again. “Our concern is really this — our order was passed on November 10 and the bills were returned after that. Why should the governor wait for our order?” the bench asked.

Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi and chief minister MK Stalin (ANI)(HT_PRINT) PREMIUM
Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi and chief minister MK Stalin (ANI)(HT_PRINT)

The answer is obvious. It is no coincidence that the face-off between Raj Bhavan and the elected government appears most fractious in states controlled by Opposition parties. The battle between these two authorities is primarily a political one, not constitutional. But the fact that the apex court is forced to underline established constitutional positions on how governors are bound to sign a bill if an assembly passes it again shows the pitfalls of overt politicisation of a high office. While state governments must accord respect to these offices, governors must also work within the limited remit that the Constitution provides.

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