July 13, 2024

Lukmaan IAS

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PRESIDENT SHOULD BE ABOVE PARTISAN POLITICS

THE CONTEXT: The Kerala government has filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the President’s withholding of assent to four bills passed by the state legislature. This action is part of an ongoing legal battle over the Governor’s refusal to approve bills passed by the assembly. The bills in question relate to state universities and cooperative societies, falling within the state’s jurisdiction.

ISSUES:

  • Unconstitutional Action: The Kerala government has challenged the President’s withholding of assent to four bills passed by the Kerala Assembly, arguing that this action is unconstitutional and lacks good faith.
  • Violation of Constitution: The state government contends that the actions of the Governor and President violate Articles 14, 200, and 201 of the Constitution, as they pertain to state universities and cooperative societies falling within the state’s domain of law-making.
  • Delay and Avoidance: The Governor kept the decision on the bills pending for an extended period, referring them to the President after two years to avoid a Supreme Court direction, which is seen as an unreasonable delay without valid reasons.
  • Federal Structure Violation: The state argues that withholding assent by the President based on Union cabinet advice is an encroachment into the state’s domain, violating the federal spirit and structure of governance in India.
  • Role of President: The President, as the constitutional head of the country, is expected to act above political considerations. However, her refusal to give assent has raised concerns about partisan and unconstitutional actions.
  • Governors’ Role: Governors in opposition-ruled states have been accused of obstructionist behavior, overstepping their powers, and acting like politicians, leading to frequent interventions by the Supreme Court to resolve conflicts between Governors and state governments.

THE WAY FORWARD:

  • Judicial Intervention: The Kerala government has already approached the Supreme Court under Article 131 to challenge the President’s actions as unconstitutional. The Supreme Court can provide a ruling that clarifies the constitutional boundaries and powers of the Governor and President in the legislative process.
  • Constitutional Amendments: The Sarkaria Commission recommended amending the Constitution to specify time limits and clearer criteria for the Governor and President’s decision-making on state bills. This could prevent indefinite delays and ensure accountability in the legislative process.
  • Dialogue and Negotiation: Engaging in dialogue with the central government and the President’s office to find common ground and resolve the issues out of court. This cooperative approach could foster better centre-state relations.
  • Sarkaria Commission Recommendations: Appoint experienced individuals to key positions, empower states, promote cooperative federalism, ensure sufficient financial resources for states, and establish a permanent Inter-State Council to resolve disputes.
  • Punchhi Commission Recommendations: Establishing a National Integration Council, Amending Articles 355 and 356 to safeguard states’ interests, Consulting states on concurrent list subjects through the Inter-State Council, involving state Chief Ministers in Governor appointments and removals, Regulating the union’s law-making power to ensure state representation.

THE CONCLUSION:

The state government argues that the actions of both the Governor and the President violate key constitutional articles, including Articles 14, 200, and 201. The delay in decision-making by the Governor, followed by a sudden referral to the President, raises concerns about political motives rather than constitutional duties. This situation highlights a growing trend of Governors overstepping their roles, leading to constitutional conflicts that require judicial intervention.

UPSC PAST YEAR QUESTION:

Q.1 Discuss the essential conditions for the exercise of the legislative powers by the Governor. Discuss the legality of the re-promulgation of ordinances by the Governor without placing them before the Legislature. (2022)

MAINS PRACTICE QUESTION:

Q.1 Analyze the role of the Supreme Court of India in addressing disputes between the central and state governments, concerning its jurisdiction and powers. Discuss how this role impacts the federal structure of the country.

THE SOURCE:

https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/editorial/president-should-be-above-partisan-politics-2951949

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