Governor’s Power to decide on Bills

Context : With as many as 21 Bills adopted by the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly pending in the Raj Bhavan, Chief Minister M.K. Stalin called on Governor R.N. Ravi and urged him to grant assent to the legislation so as “to uphold the spirit of the Constitution and the sentiments of the people of Tamil Nadu.”

Constitutional Provisions

 Article 200 deals with powers of the Governor with regard to assent given to bills passed by the State legislature 

  • Article 200 provides that when a Bill passed by the State Legislature, is presented to the Governor, the Governor shall declare—
    • (a) that he assents to the Bill; or
    • (b) that he withholds assent therefrom; or
    • (c) that he reserves the Bill for the President’s consideration; or
    • (d) the Governor may, as soon as possible, return the Bill (other than a Money Bill) with a message for re-consideration by the State Legislature. But, if the Bill is again passed by the Legislature with or without amendment, the Governor shall not withhold assent therefrom (First Proviso); or
    • (e) if in the opinion of the Governor, the Bill, if it became law, would so derogate from the powers of the High Court as to endanger its constitutional position, he shall not assent to but shall reserve it for the consideration of the President (Second Proviso).
  • If the Governor reserves a Bill for President’s consideration, the enactment of the Bill then depends on the assent or refusal of assent by the President.
  • In the case of a reserved Bill, the President shall, under Article 201—, either declare his assent or withhold his assent thereto. Instead of following either of these courses, the President may (if the Bill is not a Money Bill) direct the Governor to return the Bill together with a message to the State Legislature for reconsideration. The State Legislature shall then reconsider the Bill within 6 months of its receipt and, if it is again passed, it shall be presented again to the President for his consideration. In contrast with the power of the Governor regarding a reconsidered Bill, it is not obligatory for the President to give his assent to a reconsidered Bill.

State Bills reserved for President’s Consideration

  • State Bills reserved for Presidents’s consideration under the Constitution, may be classified as follows:—
  • Bills which must be reserved for President’s consideration In this category come Bills—
    • Which so derogate from the powers of the High Court, as to endanger the position which that Court is by this Constitution designed to fill (Second Proviso to Article 200);
    • Which relate to imposition of taxes on water or electricity in certain cases, and attract the provisions of Clause (2) of Article 288; and
    • Which fall within clause (4) (a) (ii) of Article 360, during a Financial Emergency.
  • Bills which may be reserved for President’s consideration and assent for specific purposes
    • To secure immunity from operation of Articles 14 and 19. These are Bills for—
      • Acquisition of estates, etc. [First Proviso to Article 31A(I)];
      • Giving effect to Directive Principles of State Policy (Proviso to Article 31C).
    • A Bill relating to a subject enumerated in the Concurrent List, to ensure operation of its provisions despite their repugnancy to a Union law or an existing law, by securing President’s assent in terms of Article 254(2).
    • Legislation imposing restrictions on trade and commerce requiring Presidential sanction under the
      • Proviso to Article 304(b) read with Article 255.
    • Bills which may not specifically fall under any of the above categories, yet may be reserved by the Governor for President’s consideration under Article 200.

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