Truce in Telangana: Governor to address both Houses on 3 Feb, Budget on 6 Feb

The government-Raj Bhavan standoff ended with the High Court asking counsels of both parties to discuss the matter.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Jan 30, 2023 | 5:19 PMUpdatedJan 31, 2023 | 8:17 AM

A file picture of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao greets Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan at the oath-taking ceremony of Justice Sri Ujjal Bhuyan as Chief Justice of the High Court of Telangana (Official Facebook: KalvakuntlaChandrashekarRao)

A constitutional crisis that loomed large over Telangana blew over at the intervention of the high court on Monday, 30 January, with the state government consenting to include the Governor’s address to both Houses of the legislature.

On its part, the Raj Bhavan decided to clear the budget proposals for the financial year 2023-24 to be presented in the Assembly.

The problem began with the state government deciding to skip the Governor’s address on the first day of the budget session on 3 February, contending that it was not a new session but the continuation of the earlier session as it had not been prorogued.

Traditionally, the Governor addresses both Houses of the legislature on the first day of the first session of the year. As the session beginning on 3 February is technically a continuation of the last session, the government preferred to skip the Governor’s address.

Interestingly, when the state government sought clearance for the budget proposals on 21 January, the Governor did not respond.

On the other hand, the Raj Bhavan sought clarification from the government on whether there would be the customary Governor’s address to both Houses. The government, too, did not respond.

Related: R-Day tensions as BRS, Governor faced off in Telangana

A new schedule

After the Telangana government decided to invite Governor Tamilisai Soundarajan to address the two Houses of the legislature, a new schedule has been drawn up for the budget session of the legislature.

The budget session will commence as scheduled on 3 February, but the budget would be presented at 10.30 am on 6 February.

The Governor would address both Houses at 12.10 pm on 3 February.

Legislative Affairs Minister Vemula Prashanth Reddy and Special Chief Secretary (Finance) K Ramakrishna Rao and Assembly Secretary V Narasimha Charyulu called on the Governor late Monday and finalised the new schedule.

Earlier, Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao held a meeting with ministers and officials and discussed the schedule of the Assembly after the state had consented to invite the Governor to address both Houses of the legislature.

Earlier, in the high court

With barely a few days remaining for the Assembly session, the government moved the high court on Monday, seeking a directive to the Governor to consent to the presentation of the budget proposals.

The government opined that under Article 202 of the Indian Constitution, the Governor cannot refuse consent to budget proposals.

The article states: “The Governor shall in respect of every financial year cause to be laid before the House or Houses of the Legislature of the state, a statement of the estimated receipts and expenditure of the state for that year.”

When the government moved a lunch motion, the bench of Chief Justice asked the government counsel why the court was being dragged into the controversy and whether the court could give a direction to the Governor.

Senior Counsel Dushyant Dave, appearing for the state government, argued that a Governor cannot sit on the government’s request for consent for tabling the budget proposals in both Houses of the legislature.

Related: Telangana Governor says BRS is tapping her phone

The state’s arguments

He said that the Governor’s discretionary powers if any should be exercised within the confines of the Constitution, and not outside.

Since the Governor is bound to give her consent as she is constitutionally obliged, the court could give the Governor’s office a notice.

During the afternoon break, on the suggestion of the bench, Dave and Raj Bhavan’s counsel Ashok Anand discussed the issue.

Later, after consulting the government and the Raj Bhavan, they informed the court that the government had decided to hold the Governor’s address while the Governor will consent to the presentation of the budget proposals in both Houses of the legislature.

Also read: Governor yet to give assent to eight bills passed by state Assembly

Ongoing tussle

Last year too, the government termed the budget session a continuation of the earlier session and skipped the Governor’s address.

Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan had then said though the government omitted her address, she gave clearance for the budget, keeping in mind the larger interests of the people of Telangana.

The present see-saw battle between the Governor and KCR is the most serious of the conflicts that raged between the two.

If the Governor does not consent to present the budget claiming that she has discretionary powers, the government would not be able to draw money from the exchequer for 2023-24.

The stalemate would have led to further deterioration of the relations between the offices of the Governor and the chief minister.

The differences between the two dignitaries led to an unpleasant situation on the eve of Republic Day this year.

With the state government saying that Republic Day celebrations would be organised at Raj Bhavan itself due to the threat of Covid-19, the High Court intervened, asking the government to organise the celebrations on a grand scale and with a parade.

Since the selection of venue was left to the government’s choice, the celebrations were finally held at the Raj Bhavan with a parade. Neither the chief minister nor his cabinet colleagues attended the function.