HC rejects PIL challenging Kerala’s governor’s refusal to sign bills

The Kerala High Court on Wednesday dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) brought by a lawyer challenging the decision of Governor Arif Mohammad Khan to withhold some bills passed by the legislative assembly.

Chief Justice M. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chaly, sitting as a division bench, stated that the court cannot impose a deadline on the governor for signing the bills and cannot impede the governor’s discretion.

In the PIL, petitioner PV Jeevesh said six bills passed by the assembly were pending with the governor. He also contended that the President or the governor do not have unbridled and unfettered discretion to keep the bills passed by legislative bodies.

Additionally, Jeevesh argued that the governor’s decision to withhold the bills without using his discretionary powers under Article 200 was arbitrary and at odds with democratic values and democratic constitutionalism. In this context, he also made considerable use of quotations from the Sarkaria Commission and Punchhi Commission reports. The court, however, dismissed his arguments and stated that it could not impose a deadline on the governor or interfere with his discretion.

On Tuesday, the Kerala High Court rejected the state government’s appeal challenging the governor’s appointment of Ciza Thomas to serve as the APJ Abdul Kalam Technical University’s (KTU) acting vice-chancellor, allowing her to carry out her new responsibilities.

Intense tensions erupted last month between Governor Khan and the Pinarayi Vijayan administration after the latter demanded the resignation of 11 vice chancellors in light of the Supreme Court decision that invalidated the appointment of KTU V-C MS Rajashree.

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