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Indian Polity

Governor’s Power to decide on Bills: Veto Power

  • 20 Nov 2021
  • 5 min read

Why in News

Recently, the speaker of Tamil Nadu assembly called for setting a binding timeframe within which Bills should be assented to or returned or reserved for the consideration of the President of India by the governors.

Key Points

  • Issues Highlighted by the Speaker:
    • Related to Governor:
      • The governors sometimes sat over the Bills without giving assent or returning the Bills for an indefinite period, even though the Constitution required it to be done as soon as possible.
      • The governors were also taking months together to reserve the Bills for the assent of the President even though it was to be done immediately.
      • This erodes the authority of the legislatures and the governors, though heads of the state executive, are appointed by the Union government.
    • Related to President:
      • The President of India should also give reasons for withholding the assent and returning the Bill.
      • This would help the House to enact another bill by correcting shortfalls that caused the bill to be rejected.
  • Related Examples:
    • The Speaker’s comments assume significance in the backdrop of a Bill passed by the Tamil Nadu Assembly in September, 2021 seeking exemption for students from the state from the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) required for undergraduate medical college admissions.
    • The Tamil Nadu assembly passed a resolution in 2018 regarding the release of the seven prisoners convicted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
      • The resolution was sent to the then Governor but he did not take any action for more than two years.
      • In January 2021, the Supreme Court, while hearing a plea, expressed that they were unhappy with the delay.
      • In February, the Governor, without taking a call, passed the buck and said that the President was the competent authority to decide on the resolution.

Veto Power of the President and the Governor

  • About:
    • Veto Power of the President of India is guided by Article 111 of the Indian Constitution.
    • Article 200 of the Indian Constitution deals with the powers of the Governor with regard to assent given to bills passed by the State legislature and other powers of the Governor such as reserving the bill for the President's consideration.
    • Article 201 pertains to ‘Bills Reserved for Consideration’.
    • The Governor of India enjoys absolute veto, suspensive veto (except on money bills) but not the pocket veto.
  • Three Types of Veto Power: Absolute veto, Suspensive veto and Pocket veto.
    • Exception: The President has no veto power when it comes to the constitutional amendment bills.
      • Constitutional amendment bills cannot be introduced in the state legislature.
  • Absolute Veto: It refers to the power of the President to withhold his assent to a bill passed by the Parliament. The bill then ends and does not become an act.
  • Suspensive Veto: The President uses a suspensive veto when he returns the bill to the Indian Parliament for its reconsideration.
    • If the Parliament resends the bill with or without amendment to the President, he has to approve the bill without using any of his veto powers.
    • Exception: The President cannot exercise his suspensive veto in relation to the Money Bill.
  • Pocket Veto: The bill is kept pending by the President for an indefinite period when he exercises his pocket veto.
    • He neither rejects the bill nor returns the bill for reconsideration.
    • Unlike the American President who has to resend the bill within 10 days, the Indian President has no such time-rule.
  • Veto over State Bills:
    • The governor is empowered to reserve certain types of bills passed by the state legislature for the consideration of the President.
      • Then, the Governor will not have any further role in the enactment of the bill.
    • The President can withhold his assent to such bills not only in the first instance but also in the second instance.
      • Thus, the President enjoys absolute veto (and not suspensive veto) over state bills.
    • Further, the President can exercise pocket veto in respect of state legislation also.

Source: TH

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