Underlining that the “Governor, as an unelected Head of the State, is entrusted with certain constitutional powers” but “this power cannot be used to thwart the normal course of lawmaking” by the state legislature, the Supreme Court has ruled that a “Governor cannot be at liberty” to keep a “Bill pending indefinitely without any action whatsoever”.
Noting that the “substantive part of Article 200 empowers the Governor to withhold assent to the Bill”, the three-judge bench of Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said, “In such an event, the Governor must mandatorily follow the course of action… of communicating to the State Legislature ‘as soon as possible’ a message warranting the reconsideration of the Bill.”
“Constitutional language is not surplusage. The expression ‘as soon as possible’ is significant. It conveys a constitutional imperative of expedition. Failure to take a call and keeping a bill duly passed for indeterminate periods is a course of action inconsistent with that expression…The governor cannot be at liberty to keep the bill pending indefinitely without any action whatsoever…The governor is not at liberty to withhold his action on the bills which have been placed before him,” said the bench, also comprising justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra.