Powers of the Governor with Special Reference to Article 200

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 200: Provisions

According to Article 200, when a Bill, passed by the Legislature of a State, is presented to the Governor, he has four options

  • He assents to the Bill
  • He withholds assent
  • He reserves the Bill for the consideration of the President
  • He returns the Bill to the Legislature for reconsideration.

The first proviso says that as soon as the Bill is presented to him, he may return the Bill to the Legislature (if it is not a Money Bill) together with a message requesting the Legislature to reconsider the Bill.  He can suggest desirability of introducing such amendments or changes as he thinks appropriate.  If, on such reconsideration, the Bill is passed again, with or without amendments, and is presented to the Governor for assent, he has to accord his assent. The second proviso says that if the Bill presented to him derogates, in the opinion of Governor, from the powers of the High Court so as to endanger the position which the High court is designed to fill by the Constitution, he is bound to reserve the Bill for the consideration of the President.

Questions and Answers

There are several issues with these provisions under article 200. For your examinations, we can consider the following questions in this context:

  1. There are two different and conflicting views regarding powers of Governor under article 200. What are these views? What is Supreme Court’s stand on them?
  2. Discuss the calls and implications of stripping off Governor of his power regarding reserving a bill for consideration of president.
There are two different and conflicting views regarding powers of Governor under article 200. What are these views? What is Supreme Court’s stand on them?

There are two conflicting views on this matter. The first view is that the powers of the Governor under Article 200 are discretionary powers. It is contended that when a bill is presented to a Governor, it’s his discretionary power in exercise when he decides which of the four options he is to employ for the bill in question. The other view is that the excepting in the case of Bills falling under the second proviso, the Governor has no discretion in the performance of his functions under Article 200.

The 1st view says that such a broad construction of the powers of the President would be repugnant to the parliamentary system of Government envisaged in the Constitution. This implies that discretionary powers of the Governor are restricted and come to fore only when it is required expressly or by necessary implication by the Constitution. In all cases where the bill that has been passed by the state legislature is in patent violation of any provisions of the law, the Governor can exercise his discretionary powers to reserve the bill for the consideration of the President.

The point that needs to be re-emphasized is that the Governor should act in his discretion only in rare and exceptional cases, where he is compelled good conscience and duty to uphold the Constitution. In so acting, he should bear in mind that the Constitution is founded on the fundamental principles of parliamentary democracy and division of powers. Thus, the Governor can at his best defend and uphold the Constitution by accepting as his Constitutional function what his ‘responsible’ ministers have decided.

The Supreme Court’s stand is that Governor’s power to reserve the Bill for the consideration of the President cannot be questioned in court. Therefore, the Governor may use his discretion by reserving the Bills for the consideration of the President.

Discuss the calls and implications of stripping off Governor of his power regarding reserving a bill for consideration of president.

In past there have been clamours to repeal the power of the governor to reserve a bill for president’s consideration. The Rajamannar Committee had made such recommendation.  However, in our view, this power should be usefully retained and its indiscriminate use should be checked by some machinery. Further, in the case of bills that are reserved by the Governor for the consideration by the President, there is no limit on the time that can be taken by the President for him to give his assent for the same. This is subversive to the federal principle and needs measures including fixation of time limits to minimize such delays.

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