Why in News?
Pending Bills, the issue of gubernatorial inaction, The Tamil Nadu Assembly has passed a resolution urging the President of India to issue directions to the Governor of the state to ensure that he functions in accordance with the Constitution.
This move comes after several bills passed by the assembly have been pending due to the governor’s inaction.
Article 355 and unprecedented TN assembly resolution
Article 355 of the Indian Constitution says that it shall be the duty of the Union to ensure that the government of every State is carried on by the provisions of this Constitution. Otherwise President’s rule under Article 356 can be imposed.
B.R. Ambedkar in the Constituent Assembly explained the meaning and purpose of Article 355 to justify the “invasion of the provincial field” by the Union government.
Although this Article was meant to justify central intervention in the States. It is rare for a state assembly (in this case the TN assembly), to pass resolution urging the President to intervene.
Can Article 355 be invoked to fix the accountability of Governors?
The Constitution (under Article 200) requires the Governor to act when a Bill is pass by the Assembly and presented to him.
If he fails to act in accordance with the Constitution and sits on the Bills indefinitely, he is creating a situation where governance of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with constitutional provisions.
In such a situation, the government of the State has a constitutional duty to invoke Article 355 and inform the President and request her to give suitable instructions to the Governor.
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Governor’s powers under Article 200
Governor has following options when a bill presented to him and passed by legislature.
- If the Assembly reconsiders the Bill as per the request of the Governor.
- He has to give assent even if the Assembly passes it again without accepting any of the suggestions of the Governor.
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Governor’s assent a discretion or advice?
Practice followed in the United Kingdom:
The position of the Governor in this respect is that of the sovereign in England.
The Governor can refuse to give his assent but this right has not been exercise since the reign of Queen Anne.
The veto could now only be exercise on ministerial advice and no government would veto Bills for which it was responsible.
The Constitution makers would never have imagined that Governors would sit on Bills indefinitely without exercising any of the options given in Article 200.
This is a new development which needs new solutions within the framework of the Constitution. It is in the larger interest of federalism in the country.
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