SC to hear today Punjab Govt’s plea against governor’s delay in nod to bills


The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Monday a plea moved by the Punjab government on the issue of alleged delay in granting assent by Governor Banwarilal Purohit on bills passed by the Assembly.

A bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra is scheduled to hear the plea, which has also sought directions to the governor to clear all pending bills, which have been passed by the Assembly and are awaiting his assent.
The plea has said such “unconstitutional inaction” has brought the entire administration to a “grinding halt”.

It has said the governor cannot indefinitely sit over the bills as he has restricted powers under Article 200 of the Constitution, which deals with the governor’s power to give or withhold assent or reserve a bill for the president’s consideration.
The Punjab governor is involved in a running feud with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government led by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann.

On November 1, Purohit gave his approval to two of the three bills sent to him, days after he wrote to Mann, saying he would examine all the proposed laws on merit before allowing those to be tabled in the Assembly.

The governor’s approval is needed to table money bills in the House. Purohit has approved the Punjab Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2023 and the Indian Stamp (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2023. But in his letter to the chief minister on October 19, the governor withheld his approval to three money bills.

Purohit has withheld his approval to the Punjab Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (Amendment) Bill, 2023, the Punjab Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2023 and the Indian Stamp (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2023, which were to be tabled in the Assembly during the October 20-21 session.

The governor had said the October 20-21 session, which was projected as an extension of the budget session, was “bound to be illegal” and any business conducted during it “unlawful”. On October 20, the Punjab government had cut short its two-day session.
Mann had then announced that his government would move the top court against the governor for withholding his approval to the three bills.

It is the second time in a year that the AAP government has approached the apex court.
Earlier, the Punjab government had moved the Supreme Court after accusing the governor of not “reverting” to the cabinet’s decision of summoning the budget session in March.

Four other bills — the Sikh Gurdwaras (Amendment) Bill, 2023, the Punjab Universities Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2023, the Punjab Police (Amendment) Bill, 2023 and the Punjab Affiliated Colleges (Security of Service) Amendment Bill, 2023 — are awaiting the governor’s assent.

These bills were passed during the June 19-20 session of the Punjab Assembly, which the governor had termed “patently illegal”.