Does Governor have a pocket veto, asks Singhvi




Daily Thanthi


Venkataramani gave the example of a Bill where the power of the Governor with regard to the appointment of Vice Chancellors in State-run universities was proposed to be taken away by the government. “Since it is an important issue, some reconsideration is required,” he said. The bench in its order noted the details related to 10 Bills including the dates of their clearance in the Legislative Assembly and their pendency with the office of the governor and said the oldest one was sent for gubernatorial assent way back in January 2020. The bench was responding to the submissions of the AG that Ravi had taken charge on November 18, 2021, and all sorts of delays cannot be attributed to the present Governor as there were many “intricate issues” involved with many Bills. Observing that the concern was not related to the conduct of any particular Governor, the bench said, “The issue is to find whether in general there has been a delay in exercising Constitutional functions.” Senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi and Abhisehk Singhvi, who appeared for the TN government, said the Governor was acting in breach of the constitutional schemes. “The Governor cannot simply withhold assent without providing any reason and the Constitution required him to give a note for reconsideration,” Singhvi said. The bench then referred to Article 200 of the Constitution and the powers of the governors with regard to Bills passed by state assemblies and asked whether the Governor could sit over them without sending them either back to the Assembly or to the President. “The Governor under the substantive part of Article 200, has three courses of action — he can assent, he can withhold assent or he can reserve it for the consideration of the President. Now when does the provison come into play? When he withholds assent, does he have to necessarily resend it to the legislature,” the bench asked. The counsel for the State government said the Governor has to return the Bill “as soon as possible”, otherwise it will be a mockery of the Constitutional provision. “Does your lordship envisage a ‘pocket veto’ for the Governor? Does he have a pocket veto,” Singhvi asked. The bench then queried whether the Governor can send the Bill to the President after it has been re-passed by the legislative Assembly. Such a course is not open to the Governor after the Bill has been passed again, the court was told.