From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : NA
Mains level : State vs . Governor Row
- In a significant ruling, the Supreme Court has asserted that a State Governor cannot obstruct crucial bills passed by a State Legislature.
- The court delivered this verdict in response to a writ petition filed by the Punjab government.
- The Punjab government approached the Supreme Court, challenging Governor Banwarilal Purohit’s decision to withhold some bills, alleging the legislative session’s illegitimacy.
SC Ruling on Governors Bill Withholding
- Court’s Warning: The court sternly warned the Governor that he was “playing with fire” and directed him to make a decision regarding these pending bills presented to him for assent.
- Power of Elected Representatives: Emphasizing the supremacy of elected representatives in a parliamentary democracy, the court highlighted that real power resides with them.
- Governor’s actual Role: The court underscored that the Governor’s role is that of a constitutional statesman guiding the government on constitutional matters.
Governor’s Grounds for Delay
- Governor’s Grounds: Governor Purohit contended that the Assembly session was “patently illegal” because the Speaker had adjourned the Budget Session sine die in March without proroguing it.
- Special Assembly Sitting: He refused to consider the proposed laws passed in a special June sitting, arguing that they were in breach of Punjab Vidhan Sabha Rules.
- Court’s Disagreement: The court disagreed with the Governor’s claims, stating that the Speaker acted within his rights in adjourning the House sine die.
- Constitutional Validity: The court upheld the Speaker’s authority and stressed that it was not constitutionally valid for the Governor to question how the Speaker conducted the House’s affairs.
Court’s Disagreement with the Governor
- House’s Autonomy: The court affirmed that each legislative house has the right to be the sole judge of the legality of its own proceedings.
- Legitimate Session: It found that the June 19-20 legislative session adhered to Rule 16 of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Rules, rejecting any doubts cast on its legitimacy.
- Democratic Peril Warning: The court cautioned that any attempts to challenge the legislative session could pose a grave peril to democracy.
Governor’s Role Defined
- No Judgment on Prorogation: The court questioned the Governor’s right to sit in judgment on whether the session was prorogued and emphasized that the Speaker’s decisions on adjournments governed the House.
- Avoiding Perpetual Session: While acknowledging the Speaker’s authority, the court cautioned against exploiting the sine die adjournment to perpetually avoid prorogation.
- The Supreme Court’s verdict reiterates the importance of upholding legislative proceedings and the authority of elected representatives.
- It underscores that Governors should respect the autonomy of legislative houses and not obstruct the passage of bills based on perceived procedural violations.
- This landmark decision ensures the preservation of democratic principles and the effective functioning of State Legislatures.