The Government of Kerala has approached the Supreme Court, alleging that the Governor of Kerala, Arif Mohammed Khan, is causing unjustified delays in the consideration of bills that the State Assembly has passed. The State Government contends that the Governor has failed in his constitutional duties by causing unreasonable delays in the consideration of over eight pending bills.
According to the State Government, the Governor’s conduct threatens the foundational principles of the Indian Constitution, including the rule of law, democratic governance, and the rights of the people of Kerala to welfare measures proposed through these bills. The government has pointed out that eight bills passed by the State Legislature are pending with the Governor. Three of these bills have been awaiting action for over two years, while three others have been pending for more than a year.
Here is a list of the pending bills along with the time elapsed since their presentation:
1. University Laws Amendment Bill (1st Amendment) 2021 – 23 months
2. University Laws Amendment Bill (1st Amendment) 2021 – 23 months
3. University Laws Amendment Bill (2nd Amendment) 2021 [APJ Abdul Kalam Technical University (Mal)] – 23 months
4. Kerala Co-operative Societies Amendment Bill 2022 [MILMA] – 14 months
5. University Laws Amendment Bill 2022 – 12 months
6. Kerala Lok Ayukta Amendment Bill 2022 – 12 months
7. University Laws Amendment Bill 2022 – 9 months
8. Public Health Bill 2021 – 5 months
The Kerala State Government contends that the Constitution mandates the Governor to handle presented bills promptly, typically within a few weeks. The State Legislature, through its elected representatives, has deliberated on these bills and deemed it in the public interest to promptly convert them into law. Many of these bills are of significant public interest and provide for welfare measures that the delays could deprive the people of Kerala.
The writ filed by the State Government requests a declaration from the Supreme Court that the Governor is obligated to dispose of every bill presented to him within a reasonable time, without undue delays. It also seeks a specific declaration that the Governor has failed in exercising his constitutional powers and duties by delaying the consideration of pending bills.
The State argues that the Governor’s conduct in keeping bills pending for long and indefinite periods is arbitrary and violates Article 14 of the Constitution. It also denies the people of Kerala the benefits of welfare legislation enacted by the State Assembly, violating their rights under Article 21 of the Constitution.
This petition has been prepared by former Attorney General for India KK Venugopal and filed through Advocate CK Sasi. This legal action follows a recent case in Tamil Nadu, where the State Government accused the Governor of acting as a political rival and obstructing the State Legislative Assembly by excessively delaying the consideration of bills passed by the Assembly. The Kerala Government’s petition seeks a specified timeline by which the Governor must act on pending bills, files, and government orders forwarded by the Kerala Legislative Assembly.
In a similar case earlier this year, the Supreme Court underscored the need for Governors to promptly return bills to the legislature under Article 200 of the Constitution, emphasizing the importance of timely action and cooperation between state governments and constitutional authorities to ensure the smooth functioning of the legislative process.