The Supreme Court has questioned Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi regarding delays in clearing bills passed by the Assembly. The court asked what the Governor had been doing for three years while these bills remained pending since 2020. The court is also considering whether a Governor can withhold assent on a bill without sending it back to the Assembly. This comes after Mr Ravi returned ten bills, including two passed by the previous AIADMK government. In response, the Tamil Nadu Assembly held a special session to re-adopt the bills and sent them back to the Governor for his assent. The court adjourned the matter until December 1, noting that once bills are re-passed, they hold the same status as money bills.
The Tamil Nadu government has accused the BJP-appointed Governor of intentionally delaying the bills’ clearance and undermining the elected administration’s development efforts. Among the pending bills is one that limits the Governor’s authority to appoint Vice Chancellors of state-run universities and another seeking prosecution of ex-ministers from the AIADMK.
During the hearing, there was a debate between senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, representing the Tamil Nadu government, and the Solicitor-General, arguing for Mr Ravi. The Tamil Nadu government argued that the Governor violated the Constitution by withholding assent to the bills without providing any reason. The Solicitor-General, however, argued that the Governor is not a mere technical supervisor.
The court noted that Mr Ravi had assented to 162 out of 181 bills presented to him. Under Article 200, the Governor has three options: assent to the bills, withhold assent, or send them to the President of India for reconsideration. The court also mentioned that Mr Ravi had previously returned the NEET Exemption Bill and a bill seeking a ban on online gaming, only forwarding them to the President after they were passed again by the Assembly.
Tamil Nadu is not the only state challenging its Governor in the Supreme Court. Kerala and Punjab have also filed similar pleas against their Governors. Last week, the court warned Governor Banwarilal Purohit of Punjab, stating that he is “playing with fire” after delays in passing seven bills, including one related to fiscal management and education.
In conclusion, the Supreme Court is questioning the Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi regarding delays in clearing bills and whether a Governor can withhold assent without sending them back to the Assembly. The court also noted the challenges faced by other states in relation to their Governors. The matter has been adjourned until December 1.