"What was he doing for the last three years?", Supreme Court on Tamil Nadu Governor's delay in granting assent on bills

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"The governor by not giving assent to bills is sending a message...like this a Governor will not let a government work for five years", Court was told today

The Supreme Court today questioned the Tamil Nadu Governor over his conduct in the past three years for not giving assent on bills pending before him.

"What was the governor doing for the last three years..why was he waiting for a writ to be filed..", asked a bench of CJI DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra.

When the Attorney General responded saying that the present Governor was only appointed in November 2021, the CJI said, "We are not blaming one particular person, we are talking about the office of the governor..".

Senior Advocate AM SInghvi submitted that the TN Governor had violated every word of Article 200 and its proviso.

"In his note Governor says 49 proposals were received for remission in August..it was three months back..he thinks it is recent..", Singhvi added.

On the AG's request court decided to wait for the Governor's decision as the state assembly had passed the bills again.

"Bills have been pending with governor from 13th Jan 2020 till 28 April 2023. We adjourn these proceedings to Dec 1, 2023. The matters relating to other issues are also deferred to next date of listing.", the bench has ordered.

The Supreme Court on November 10, 2023 had issued notice in a plea by the Tamil Nadu Government over the inaction, omission, delay and failure to comply with the constitutional mandate by the Governor of Tamil Nadu to give his assent to the Bills passed and forwarded by the Tamil Nadu State Legislature to him.

Court has been told that the non-consideration of files, Government orders and policies forwarded by the State Government for his signature is unconstitutional, illegal, arbitrary, unreasonable besides malafide exercise of power.

"The Governor by not “signing remission orders, day to day files, appointment orders, approving recruitment orders, granting approval to prosecute Ministers, MLAs involved in corruption including transfer of investigation to CBI by Supreme Court, Bills passed by Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly” is bringing the entire administration to a grinding halt and creating adversarial attitude by not cooperating with the State administration", the petition states.

Filed through AOR Sabarish Subramanian, the petition further submits that the State Governor has positioned himself as a political rival to the legitimately elected Government by hindering and obstructing the Legislative Assembly's ability to carry out its legislative duties by unjustly and excessively delaying the consideration of bills that the Assembly has passed.

"Furthermore, the Governor has failed to accord sanction for prosecution and investigation qua various crimes of corruption involving moral turpitude of public servants and issues pertaining to the premature release of Prisoners..", Court has been told.

Accordingly, the government has sought a writ in the nature of Mandamus to the Governor to dispose of all the Bills, files, Government orders forwarded by the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly and Government which are pending with his office within a specified timeframe.

Notably, Tamil Nadu has also approached the Supreme Court against the Governor's decision to constitute selection committees for appointing the Vice-Chancellors of three Universities in the state.

The Writ Petition is challenging the 3 impugned notifications issued by Governor Chancellor allegedly in exercise of his eo-nominee functions under State Statutes as Chancellor of 3 State Universities.