A creative interpretation of Article 200
In a pivotal judgment, Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud provided a groundbreaking interpretation of Article 200 of the Indian Constitution, specifically addressing the options available to a Governor when presented with a Bill for assent.
GS – 2 (Indian Constitution, Judiciary)
Governor’s Power over State Bills, Supreme Court, Legislative Assemblies, Article 200, Article 201, Gubernatorial Procrastination, Article 355.
How does the recent judicial interpretation of Article 200 impact the powers of Governors in withholding assent to Bills and what potential challenges emerge regarding the reservation of Bills for the President’s consideration? (250 words)
Dimensions of the Article:
- How Does Article 200 Shape the Governor’s Authority over State Bills?
- Constitutional References
How Does Article 200 Shape the Governor’s Authority over State Bills?
- Article 200 of the Indian Constitution delineates the governor’s role in the legislative process concerning state bills.
- The article specifies the procedures when a bill is passed by the Legislative Assembly of a State and is presented to the governor for approval.
- The governor holds the authority to either grant assent, withhold assent, or reserve the bill for the President’s consideration.
- Article 201 outlines the subsequent steps when a bill is reserved for the President’s consideration in which it states that the President can either give assent or withhold it, and may also direct the governor to return the bill to the State Legislature for reconsideration.
- The governor’s options include providing assent, returning the bill to the Assembly for reconsideration, or reserving it for the President’s consideration.
- The reservation is mandatory in cases where the bill poses a threat to the state high court’s position or goes against constitutional provisions, the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP), national interest, or deals with compulsory property acquisition under Article 31A.
- While the power to withhold assent exists, it is rarely exercised due to its potential unpopularity.
- Historical Confusion: Historically, there has been confusion surrounding Article 200 and its provisos, with differing interpretations regarding the Governor’s power to withhold assent. Chief Justice Chandrachud’s judgment redefines the relationship between withholding assent and sending a Bill back for reconsideration, offering a fresh perspective that safeguards legislative rights.
- Some Governors have been known to delay decisions on Bills, impeding the legislative process. The Supreme Court, in the Punjab case, asserts that such delays are impermissible, reinforcing the need for timely decisions.
- Governor’s Discretion: The Constitution does not explicitly specify the categories of Bills that can be sent to the President, giving Governors discretionary power.
Example: Instances from Kerala and Tamil Nadu highlight Governors’ actions, raising concerns about the arbitrary reservation of Bills for the President’s consideration.
- Article 213 and Ordinance-making Power: Article 213 indirectly refers to the President’s role in cases where the Governor deems it necessary to reserve a Bill. However, this discretion is subject to the constitutional scheme.
- Article 254 and Concurrent List: Article 254 clarifies the circumstances under which a State law on a concurrent subject must be sent for the President’s consideration, primarily when it clashes with existing central laws.
The recent judicial interpretation clarifies the dynamics between Governors, assent withholding, and the reservation of Bills for the President’s consideration, yet challenges persist in defining the scope of such reservations. The constitutional framework demands a careful balance to ensure the integrity of the legislative process and the democratic principles it upholds.