Observing that a little bit of soul-searching by governors is needed, the Supreme Court on Monday directed Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to place an updated status report on the action taken by Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit on the bills passed by the Assembly.
A bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud said governors must act on bills even before the matters come before the apex court
Solicitor General Mehta, appearing for the Punjab Governor, informed the bench that the governor has taken action on bills placed before him and the plea filed by the Punjab government is an unnecessary litigation.
“Governors must act even before the matter comes to the Supreme Court. This has to come to an end when governors act only when matters reach the Supreme Court…A little bit of soul searching is needed by governors and they must know that they are not elected representatives of people.
“The SG says the Punjab governor has taken action and an updated status report will be placed in a few days. Let the plea be listed on Friday and let the court be apprised of the action taken by the governor,” the bench also comprising Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said.
The apex court has posted the matter for hearing on November 10.
The Punjab governor is involved in a running feud with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government led by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann.
On November 1, Purohit gave his approval to two of the three bills sent to him, days after he wrote to Mann, saying he would examine all the proposed laws on merit before allowing those to be tabled in the Assembly.
The governor’s approval is needed to table money bills in the House.
Purohit has approved the Punjab Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2023 and the Indian Stamp (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2023.
However, in his earlier letter to the chief minister on October 19, the governor had withheld his approval to three money bills.
Purohit has withheld his approval to the Punjab Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (Amendment) Bill, 2023, the Punjab Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2023 and the Indian Stamp (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2023, which were to be tabled in the Assembly during the October 20-21 session.
The governor had said the October 20-21 session, which was projected as an extension of the budget session, was “bound to be illegal” and any business conducted during it “unlawful”. On October 20, the Punjab government had cut short its two-day session.