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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS : Constitutional silences, unconstitutional inaction


Source: The Hindu

  • Prelims: Parliamentary democracy, Article 200, Article 201, Functions and responsibilities of Governor, state legislature etc
  • Mains GS Paper II: State Legislature -Structure, organization, functioning and conduct of business etc



  • The Constitution was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 26th November, 1949.
    • deliberate gaps were left for a future Parliament to modify and amend the Constitution in accordance with the aspirations and the will of the people.




Article 200:

  • It deals with the powers of the Governor with regard to assent given to bills passed by the State legislature and other powers of the Governor such as reserving the bill for the President’s consideration.
  • Bill passed by the Legislature of a State, is presented to the Governor, he has four options:
    • He assents to the Bill
    • He withholds assent
    • He reserves the Bill for the consideration of the President
    • He returns the Bill to the Legislature for reconsideration.
  • The Governor of India enjoys:
    • Absolute veto
    • Suspensive veto (except on money bills).


Issue with Article 200:

  • It does not prescribe a timeline for the Governor to provide assent to Bills sent by the Legislative Assembly.


Instances Governors misused Article 200:

  • Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Bill, 2022 (passed by the Tamil Nadu Assembly)
  • Kerala Lok Ayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2022
  • In Tamil Nadu, almost 20 Bills are awaiting assent by the Governor.


Constitutional scheme:

  • The Constituent Assembly(Prof. Shibban Lal Saxena): How there is no time limit prescribed for the Governor to act.
  • Purushothaman Nambudiri vs State of Kerala (1962):
    • The SC said that the Constitution does not impose any time limit within which the Governor should provide assent to Bills.
    • Governors must honor the will of the Legislature
    • The President or a Governor can act only in harmony with their Council of Ministers.
    • Causing delay to assent Bills will be an arbitrary exercise, which is constitutionally unacceptable.


Article 201:

  • It pertains to ‘Bills Reserved for Consideration of the President.
  • There is no timeline prescribed for the President to decide on the outcome of the Bill.



  • There is a timeline of six months applicable to the State Assembly to reconsider the Bill if the President decides to refer it back to the House.


Instance of President withholding his assent:

  • National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET)-exemption Bill passed by the Tamil Nadu Assembly


Reforms suggested:

  • Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy-led Committee: It states that if the Governor withholds assent to a Bill indefinitely, “such a course will not be conducive with the decorous regard a Governor is expected to follow the rules of the Constitutional game
  • The ‘National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution: There should be a time-limit within which the Governor should take a decision whether to grant assent or to reserve a Bill for consideration of the President.
  • State government’s opinion before the Sarkaria Commission: “Governor will act as a safety-valve against hasty legislations and by their operation enable the State Government and Legislature to have a second look at it.
  • The Sarkaria Commission:
    • Delay from the side of the Governor in granting assent can be avoided by streamlining the existing procedures.
    • Making prior consultation with the Governor at the stage of the drafting of the Bill itself, and by prescribing time-limits for its disposal.


Way Forward

  • An Independent Governor is necessary to act as a check and balance, to avoid the state-enacted law being repugnant to the Union laws.
  • Governor will have to grant assent or decline the same within a ‘reasonable time:‘Reasonable time is necessary, under the circumstances, to do conveniently what the contract or duty requires should be done in a particular case.
  • Keisham Meghachandra Singh vs The Hon’ble Speaker, Manipur Legislative Assembly (2020): The Supreme Court held that the Speaker must act on disqualification petitions against the defecting MLAs within a ‘reasonable time’.
  • The Constitution should be read contextually to provide a meaning that the Governor must act on the Bills within a reasonable time, say three months.
  • Shamsher Singh and Anr. vs State Of Punjab: Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer said, “maybe, our founding fathers were not political prophets who could foresee glaring abuses or perverted developments”.



Q. Discuss the essentials of the 69th Constitutional Amendment Act and anomalies, if any, that have led to recent reported conflicts between the elected representatives and institution of Lieutenant Governor in the administration of Delhi. Do you think that this will give rise to a new trend in the functioning of the Indian Federal Politics?(UPSC 2016) (200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)