Governor's Assent to Bills and Returning of Bills to the House



Article 200 says that when a bill has been passed by the state legislature, it shall be presented to the Governor and the Governor declares whether he asserts, is withholding assent or reserving it for reconsideration by the President. In case of money bills, he cannot withhold his assent because, under Article 207, money bills can be introduced in the state legislature only after the approval of the Governor. Hence, he cannot withhold assent to a bill he has approved of in the first instance. He cannot send a money bill back for reconsideration by the House.

In case of a non-money bill, he can send the bill back to the Assembly together with his recommendations in his message to the House or Houses. The House or Houses will reconsider this bill and, if it is passed again with or without the amendments desired by the Governor, the Governor cannot withhold his assent and has to sign the bill.

It may be mentioned here that returning the bill to the legislature does not mean without assent. J.R.Siwach, in his study, gives examples to prove his point and says that when assent is withheld, the bill is not sent back for reconsideration. Article 200 does not specify any time-limit within which the bill has to, be sent to the legislature by the Governor for reconsideration. It merely uses the words "as soon as possible".

Time and again, Governors have withheld their assent to particular bill because this power is given by Article 200. But, generally, the power has not been used much because probably that was the intention of the Constitution-makers.

They certainly did not want the Governor to act as the super limb of the legislature. Frequent misuse of this power may lead to the resignation of the ministry. Besides, healthy parliamentary norms have taken shape in such a manner that he does not use an absolute veto but can bypass an embarrassing position by reserving the controversial bill for the President's consideration.

Governor's Address

According to Article 175(1), the Governor can address either House of the state legislature separately or both the Houses assembled together. He also delivers the special address at the commencement of the first session after each General Election to the Legislative Assembly at the commencement of the first session of the year and an inaugural address at the budget session.

The address, whenever delivered, is prepared by the Chief Minister and his Council of Ministers. The address must not make any reference to the High Court and should be in accordance with the oath the Governor takes under Article 159. In all cases, it is a written speech and he merely intones the words of the ministry.

The important question in this regard is whether he can delete an objectionable part from this address. Prominent jurists such as Ashok Sen and M.C. Setalvad have held the view that he can avoid reading certain lines or paragraphs when these lines or paragraphs condemn the Governor for his earlier actions, as, otherwise, it would be as if the Governor were delivering a verdict against himself. He can also omit any part if it is not within the limits of constitutional propriety.

Seeking Information

The right of the Governor to seek information from the Chief Minister is again a discretionary one because it would be ridiculous to say that the Governor should consult the Chief Minister before seeking information from him. Under Article 167(a), it is the duty of the Chief Minister to keep the Governor informed about the decision of the council relating to the administration of the affairs of the state and proposals for legislation.

Under Article 167(c), the Governor is empowered to ask the Chief Minister to submit for the consideration of the council of ministers any matter on which a decision has been taken by a minister but which has not been considered by the council. This power is related to the power of asking for information. "For, while going through the decisions of the government both by the Cabinet and individual ministers, the Governor may come across a particular decision made by a minister which, in his opinion, requires reconsideration by the Cabinet as a whole."