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Governor’s Power to decide on Bills: Veto Power

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    1st Dec, 2021

Context

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.

About

Who is a Governor?

  • The Governor is the head of a state just like the President is the head of the republic.
  • The Governor is the nominal head of a state, while the Chief Minister is the executive head.
  • All executive actions of the state are taken in the name of the Governor.
  • However, in reality he merely gives his consent to the various executive actions. He or she is devoid of taking any major decisions.
  • The real powers in the executive dealings of a state rest with the Chief Minister and the Council of Ministers.
  • Tenure: A governor of a state in India holds office for a period of five years, but it is subject to termination.
  • One Governor, more states: According to an amendment in the Constitution of India, brought about in 1956, the same person can be the Governor of two or more states.

Eligibility Criteria

  • He or she must be a citizen of India.
  • He or she must have completed 35 years of age.
  • He or she must not hold any other office of profit.
  • He or she must not be a member of the Legislature of the Union or of any other state.

What about administration of UTs?

  • Apart from the governors in the states, Lieutenant governors are appointed in Union Territories of Delhi, Andaman Nicobar Island and Pudducherry.
  • All other union-territories are governed by an Administrative Head (an IAS officer).
  • The only exception is Chandigarh. The governor of Punjab is also the lieutenant governor of Chandigarh.
  • The powers of the Lieutenant Governor of a union-territory are equivalent to the powers of a Governor of a state in India.
  • Both are appointed by the President of India for a term of 5 years.

Veto Power with regard to Ordinary Bill

Every ordinary bill, after it is passed by the legislative assembly in case of a unicameral legislature or by both the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council in case of a bicameral legislature, is presented to the governor for his assent. In this case Governor has four alternatives - 

  1. He may give his assent to the bill, the bill then becomes an act. 
  2. He may withhold his assent to the bill, the bill then ends and does not become an act(Absolute Veto). 
  3. He may return the bill for reconsideration of the House or Houses. If the bill is passed by the House or Houses again with or without amendments and presented to the governor for his assent, the governor must give his assent to the bill. Thus, the governor enjoys only a ‘suspensive veto’. 
  4. He may reserve the bill for the consideration of the President.

When the governor reserves a bill for the consideration of the President, he will not have any further role in the enactment of the bill and now the power of consideration of the Bill rests solely with the President and Governor has nothing to do with it. 

Veto Power with regard to Money Bill

Every money bill, after it is passed by the state legislature (SLA or SLA&SLC), is presented to the governor for his assent. 

In this case Governor has three options - 

  1. He may give his assent to the bill, the bill then becomes an act. 
  2. He may withhold his assent to the bill, the bill then ends and does not become an act. 
  3. He may reserve the bill for the consideration of the president.
  4. He cannot send the Bill back to the SLA for reconsideration and he normally accords his assent to the Money Bill as it is introduced with his prior consent. 

If the Governor reserves the Money Bill for the consideration of the President his role ends.

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