After Kejriwal, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan supports MK Stalin on bill against Governors’ discretion 

Vijayan said he appreciated the views expressed in Stalin's letter, and that they were similar to the stand the Kerala government has taken.

ByVinodh Arulappan

Published Apr 18, 2023 | 11:19 PMUpdatedApr 19, 2023 | 8:19 AM

MK Stalin and Pinarayi Vijayan

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has extended his support to his Tamil Nadu counterpart MK Stalin, who recently urged non-BJP chief ministers to pass a resolution seeking a timeframe for Governors deciding on Bills.

Vijayan said that as defenders of the federal spirit of the Constitution, “we have to cooperate in every effort to prevent the curtailing of the functioning of elected state governments”.

In his response, Vijayan stated that he appreciate the views expressed in the letter (written by Stalin) and they are in consonance with the stand taken by his government in Kerala.

Related: Government should respect limits, says Kerala Governor

What Vijayan said

“As you have rightly stated, presently elected governments in many states are facing this issue,” said Vijayan in his letter.

“In Kerala, too, certain bills passed by the state Assembly after due deliberation have been kept pending by the Governor for an unduly long time, some for more than a year. This is despite the fact that the ministers and officials have personally visited and given the clarifications sought by the Governor,” he added.

“Putting a halt, that too for an inordinately long time, to the legislative measures passed by the state Assemblies which represent the will of the electorate tantamount to nothing short of negation of the democratic rights of the people,” Vijayan said.

“The time-tested convention of parliamentary democracy that the Governor has to act in accordance with the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers is being violated through the act of holding back assent to the bills passed by the legislature,” said the Kerala chief minister.

He also stated that the constitutional discretion of the Governor operated in the narrow confines of the Articles where there were explicit mentions of the word discretion and in an extreme situation of invoking Article 356, which was expected to remain a dead letter, as agreed to by the eminent Constitution-maker BR Ambedkar in Constituent Assembly Debates. Article 356, instead of remaining a dead letter had been put to oft-repeated use (many times misuse) to oust state governments enjoying majority support in the Assemblies.

Also read: Parties corner Kerala Governor Khan over his media boycott

Pointing to the dismissal of the Communist government headed by EMS Namboodiripad in Kerala in 1959 and the DMK Government headed by M Karunanidhi in Tamil Nadu in 1976 and 1991, Vijayan said: “As defenders of the federal spirit of our Constitution, we have to cooperate in every effort to prevent the curtailing of the functioning of elected State governments.”

He further said: “Even though the time period for giving assent to the bills is not specifically mentioned in the Constitution, it has to be a reasonable one. Going by the experience of many states, the Justice MN Venkatachaliah Commission to review the working of the constitution and the Justice MM Punchi Commission on Union-state relations have recommended mentioning a time limit, within which the Governor has to take a decision on giving assent to bills, in Article 200. In this matter, we are ready to extend wholehearted cooperation to you and will consider the proposal in your letter with the utmost seriousness.”

Earlier, Arvind Kejriwal also responded to Stalin’s letter stating that the interface of the state governments and their Governors or Lt Governors had effectively become “a battlefront where a silent war is being waged by the Union government”.

They were “willfully” undermining democratically elected state governments and obstructing administration as per their “whims and fancies”, he said.

He also stated that his government will also introduce a similar resolution in the Delhi Assembly in the next session.

Also read: Tamil Nadu Governor clears bill banning online gambling

Let the fire spread, says Stalin

Taking to Twitter, MK Stalin thanked Pinarayi Vijayan for the prompt response to his letter and for extending his full support.

“Tamil Nadu and Kerala have traditionally stood as a bulwark against any attempt to erode state autonomy. We will win in our crusade against gubernatorial overreach too,” he said.

Further, he hashtagged “Thee Paravattum”, which means “Let the fire spread”.

After passing a resolution in the Tamil Nadu Assembly urging the Union government and the President of India to fix a time limit for Governors to approve Bills passed by the legislature, Stalin wrote to the chief ministers of non-BJP-ruled states urging them to pass a resolution seeking a timeframe for Governors in deciding on a bill.