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Bills on Concurrent List subjects trigger Raj Bhavan-state govt tiffs in WB

Bills on Concurrent List subjects trigger Raj Bhavan-state govt tiffs in WB

By Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri

Kolkata, March 12 (SocialNews.XYZ) Indications are that the Raj Bhavan- State Secretariat relations in West Bengal, at the end of the initial honeymoon period during the tenure of the current Governor CV Ananda Bose, are going back to the old days of constant tiffs between the two institutions. This was very evident during the tenure of Bose's predecessor and the current Indian Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar.


During Dhankhar's tenure the quarrels were a mix of political and administrative issues. The signs are that the possible spats between the two institutions in the coming days will be purely over administrative and constitutional issues, where the Governor's assent to certain bills passed by the state assembly will be the focal points.

Constitutional experts feel that the provisions related to the Governor's assent to bills passed by the legislative assembly has certain undefined areas which aid the process of things getting complicated.

According to constitutional expert Rajagopal Dhar Chakraborty, while some opposition parties who are also ruling in some states, might choose to take the legal route against the Governor's decision to hold back any bill passed by the legislative assembly, the reality is that the Constitution has given the Governor immunity from legal proceedings in this matter.

"According to Article 200 of the Indian Constitution, once a bill passed by a legislative assembly is sent to the Governor, the latter can either give his assent to the bill or send it back to the legislative assembly for reconsideration. However, if the legislative assembly sends the bill again without any change, in that case the Governor has no option but to give his assent," he explained.

However, he added, there are two catches in the process. "There is no specific time frame for the Governor by when he will take a decision on a particular bill i.e., whether to give assent or send it for reconsideration. In that case the bill remains pending at the Governor House for a prolonged period and in that case the only option for the state government is to persuade the Governor to take a decision on this count," Dhar Chakraborty explained.

Secondly, he added, the Governor might neither give assent nor send it back for reconsideration and instead send the bill to the office of the President for the latter's views in the matter. "The Governor can adopt this third approach if he feels that the particular bill passed by the legislative assembly is against a central Act on the same subject. In West Bengal, you will see that the majority of bills that are in question or pending because of the non-availability of the Governor's assent are related to subjects that are in the concurrent list," he said.

Explaining the legal nitty gritty on this count senior counsel Kaushik Gupta said in case of subjects in the concurrent list, which can be legislated both by the Parliament and the legislative assemblies, if any state act goes against the central Act on any subject, the central Act will prevail. So often Governors refuse to give assent to such bills passed by the assembly when he feels that if the bill turns into an act, then it might collide with the central Act in the same matter," Gupta said.

In fact, the main tussle between the Secretariat and the Governor House in West Bengal, that started during the tenure of Dhankhar and is continuing till date, is related to a provision in the state Act on the formation of search committees for appointment of vice-chancellors of state universities.

As per the central Act, such committees should have one representative from the University Grants Commission (UGC), one from the state university and the third should be a Governor- appointed representative.

This system of formation of search committees was followed in West Bengal till 2014, when the then state education minister, Partha Chatterjee brought some amendments in the legal provisions for the constitution of the search committee where the chair of the UGC-nominated representative was replaced by a state education department nominated representative.

This development first resulted in legal battles over the appointment of vice chancellors by the search committees without a UGC representative and later this point became a major issue between the state government and the state secretariat that started during the tenure of Dhankhar and is still continuing.

Similar spats between the two erupted over the bills passed by the West Bengal assembly replacing the "Governor" with "chief minister" as the chancellor of state-run universities. Again, it started during the tenure of Dhankhar and the stalemate over the issue is still continuing.

Source: IANS

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Bills on Concurrent List subjects trigger Raj Bhavan-state govt tiffs in WB

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