THE HINDU EDITORIAL

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Constitutional tyranny: On Raj Bhavan’s use of the veto

Governors rejecting Bills without cause undermines parliamentary democracy

The statute position is that these Bills have failed to become law. There is no remedy in the Constitution for a House aggrieved by the rejection of its Bills. The proviso to Article 200, which makes the Governor’s assent mandatory for Bills passed a second time, does not apply to Bills for which assent has been ‘withheld’, a term that essentially means ‘rejected’. If the government was aware of this position and still ventured to adopt them again, it is possibly meant as a political message that it will not yield in the matter of pursuing its legislative measures. The effect of their fresh passage is that the Governor may treat them as fresh Bills. This means he is free to withhold assent yet again. In a sense, the Governor’s action has helped highlight an undemocratic and anti-federal feature in the Constitution that creates an unguided power to reject pieces of legislation passed by elected representatives. In its observations in ongoing proceedings concerning the Governor’s powers, the Court has drawn attention to the fact that Governors are not elected. The Court must examine whether vesting that office with a veto over legislation violates parliamentary democracy, a basic feature of the Constitution. An authoritative pronouncement is needed to end the scope for partisan mischief.