Chennai: Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker M Appavu on Wednesday called for working towards setting a binding time frame within which the President or Governors must decide on a Bill sent to them by the Legislature for assent. He also insisted that if a Bill is rejected, the reasons for the same must be stated by the Constitutional heads.
In his address at the Presiding Officers’ Meet in New Delhi, Appavu pointed out that when a Bill is passed by majority and sent for the assent of the Governor, the Governors sometimes sit over the Bill without giving assent or returning the Bill for an indefinite period, even though the Constitution requires it to be done “as soon as possible”.
“Another problem we see is that where a Bill requires to be reserved for the consideration of the President, the Governors are taking months together to reserve the Bills for the assent of the President, even though they are bound to do so immediately. This erodes the authority of the Legislatures,” he said.
Appavu’s remarks come against the backdrop of a couple of key Bills including for doing away with NEET that were stuck in the Raj Bhavan or Rashtrapati Bhavan.
The Speaker pointed out that Governors, though heads the State Executive, are appointed by the Union Government. “Therefore, when they stall the assent to a Bill, they are virtually overruling the will of the People of the State,” he said, adding, “We have to work together to set a binding time frame within which Bills have to be assented to, returned or reserved for the consideration of the President of India by the Governors.”
Raising another Constitutional issue, he asked, when a Bill passed by the State is reserved for the consideration of the President, and if the President withholds the assent and returns the Bill, “should not the President give reasons for such return?”
“How else will the House that enacted the Bill know what is the real impediment in withholding the assent? Since the House reflects the will of the people, withholding of assent to a Bill amounts to rejection of the will of the people of that State. Therefore, are not the people entitled to know at least the reason for which the Bill was not assented to,” he asked.
Appavu contended, “If the House knows the reasons, may be they can enact another Bill, correcting the shortfalls that caused the President to withhold the assent.