[Answered] Analyze the constitutional provisions related to the discretionary powers of a Governor in the context of assenting to Bills passed by the State Legislature. Discuss with reference to the recommendations of the Sarkaria and Punchhi Commissions.

Introduction: Give brief context to the question

Body: Highlight provisions related to assent to Bills and suggestions of Commissions.

Conclusion: Way forward

Recently, the Tamil Nadu Governor ‘withheld’ assent for certain Bills passed by the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly’ raising concern regarding the discretionary powers of a Governor in the context of assenting to Bills passed by the State Legislature.

Constitutional provisions related to the powers of a Governor in the context of assenting to Bills

  • Article 200: According to this article, the Governor can give his assent to a bill, withhold his assent to a bill, or reserve the bill for the consideration of the President. The Governor’s discretionary powers in this regard are important for maintaining the balance between the executive and legislative branches of the state government.
  • Article 201: This article grants the Governor the power to reserve certain bills for the President’s consideration. The President may either give his assent to the bill or withhold his assent, and the Governor must act accordingly.
  • Article 202: This article gives the Governor the power to return a bill (other than a money bill) for reconsideration by the state legislature, along with a request for the reconsideration of the bill. If the legislature passes the bill again with or without modifications, the Governor is obligated to assent to it.

Recommendations of Centre-State Relations Commission

  • Sarkaria Commission: The Sarkaria Commission emphasized that the Governor’s discretionary power is primarily limited to the reservation of bills for the consideration of the President, and this authority should be invoked only in rare cases of unconstitutionality. In all other instances, the Governor is expected to exercise functions under Article 200 following the advice of the ministers. The commission recommended that the President should promptly dispose of such reserved bills within a maximum period of six months. Additionally, if the President decides to withhold assent, reasons for such a decision should be communicated to the State Government whenever feasible.
  • Punchhi Commission: It recommended that it is necessary to prescribe a time limit of six months within which the Governor should decide whether to grant assent or to reserve it for consideration of the President.

Conclusion

While the governor’s position is vital to maintaining the integrity and unity of a country, federalism must also be strengthened by making sure the governor does not infringe upon the authority of elected governments. The Punchhi Commission recommended that the State Legislature impeach governors and that the Chief Ministers be consulted before governor nomination.

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