Governor’s role in approving a Bill – UPSC GS2

  • The Tamil Nadu Assembly has once again adopted a Bill, granting exemption from the mandatory National Entrance-cum-Eligibility Test (NEET) for seats allotted by the Government in undergraduate medical and dental courses in Tamil Nadu. Notably, this bill was earlier returned by the Governor.
Related Constitutional Provisions:
Article 200:
  • Article 200 deals with the Governor’s function in passing a Bill of the state legislature.
  • Under Article 200 of the Indian Constitution, the Governor may :
    • grant assent
    • withhold assent
    • return for reconsideration by the Legislature or
    • reserve for the consideration of the President any Bill passed by the State legislature and presented to him for assent.
  • There is no timeframe fixed in the Constitution for any of these functions.
  • Article 200 enables the Governor to return a Bill, that is not a Money Bill, with a message requesting the House, or Houses, if there is an upper chamber, to reconsider the Bill, or any provisions, and also consider introducing amendments he may recommend. The House will have to reconsider as suggested. If the Bill is passed again, with or without changes, and presented for assent, “the Governor shall not withhold assent therefrom”.
  • The Governor shall reserve for the consideration of the President, any Bill which in the opinion of the Governor would, if it became law, so derogate from the powers of the High Court as to endanger the position which that Court is by this Constitution designed to fill.
Interpretation of Article 200:
  • The Governor does not have discretion on matters of the Assembly and is bound to follow the advice of the ministerial Council even on matters where he/she might be withholding assent. Going by this interpretation the Governor will now have to grant his assent to the Bill under question as mandated by Article 200 of the Constitution.
  • The framers of the Constitution envisaged such a provision to accommodate any of the following situations:
    • When the Council of Ministers feels that a Bill has been hastily adopted or that it requires changes, the Council may want to recall its Bill, and accordingly advise the Governor to return it.
    • If after a Bill is passed the Ministers resign before the Bill gets the Governor’s assent, the new Ministry may not want to go ahead with the Bill and might advise against assent being given. This was also noted by the Sarkaria Commission on Union-State Relations.
Article 201:
  • Article 201 of the Indian Constitution deals with provisions related to bills reserved for the consideration of the President.
  • As per Article 201, when a Bill is reserved by a Governor for the consideration of the President, the President shall declare either that he assents to the Bill or that he withholds assent therefrom.
  • The President may also direct the Governor to return the Bill, where the Bill is not a Money Bill, with a message. When a Bill is so returned, the House or Houses shall reconsider it accordingly within a period of six months from the date of receipt of such message and, if it is again passed by the House or Houses with or without amendment, it shall be presented again to the President.
  • There is no timeframe mentioned for the above provisions.
Interpretation of Article 201:
  • Unlike Article 200 which explicitly mentions that the Governor shall not withhold assent after a suggested reconsideration of the bill, Article 201 has no such provisions mentioned. This means that the Bill will become law if the assent is given, but nothing can be done if the Bill is denied assent by the President or if he makes no decision.