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Kerala: 11 Ordinances Promulgated by LDF Govt Lapse as Governor Refuses to Sign

Neelambaran A |
Several non-BJP-ruled state governments have been flagging the “inordinate delay” from the Governor’s office in granting approvals.
Govt of Kerala

File Photo.

Eleven ordinances promulgated by the Kerala government have lasped, as the Governor, Arif Mohammad Khan, has not accorded his approvat.

The state government has amended six laws based on the ordinances submitted, which have become invalid in the event of these not being approved by the office of the Governor.

The ordinances include one on curtailing the powers of the Governor in the appointment of Vice Chancellors to universities, private forests, local self-governments and cooperative societies.

Speaking to the media in New Delhi, Khan had said that he needed more time to study the ordinances. He is in Delhi to attend a meeting related to ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, while Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is also there to attend a NITI Aayog meeting.

The delay in approval and as to why the ordinances were held until the last day of their expiry has been raised by many in the government.

In fact, the chief secretary to the government of Kerala has even met the Governor to seek his approval for some pending Bills.

Not just Kerala, several Opposition-ruled state governments  have been flagging the “inordinate delay” from the office of the Governor for granting approvals. 

State governments enact ordinances depending on the need for changes in any laws when the Assembly is not in session.

Sources said this was not the first time the governor of Kerala was delaying or refusing approval to Bills and ordinances submitted, as conflict between the office of governor and the government ruled by Left Democratic Front was intensifying.

One such instance being cited is state government recently passing an ordinance to reduce the powers of the governor in appointing VCs of universities. Soon after that, the Governor appointed a search committee to identify a VC for University of Kerala, which escalated tension with the state government.

‘STATE NEEDS POWER ON GOVERNOR’S APPOINTMENT/REMOVAL’

An important ordinance that lapsed is the Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill. It required the chief minister to meet the Governor in person to seek his approval, yet he did not sign.

The Governor had, in fact, even refused to resume his duties as the Chancellor of the universities after a tussle with the state government. He has also been accusing the LDF government of “political intervention” in university appointments, which the state government termed as “false and misleading”. 

The tug-of-war between the state government and Governor is nothing news I non-BJP ruled states, such as Delhi NCR, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal among others. In Kerala, Khan even refused to approve the policy address of the government citing various reasons, thereby “infringing” upon the rights of the state government, said sources. 

Another instance is of the Governor appointing a former BJP leader as his personal secretary to which the LDF government raised objections. In an apparently retaliatory measure, he refused to sign the address, only to approve it later, as per reports.

The government of Kerala has even sought the power to remove the Governor if the constitutionally mandated responsibilities are not carried out by him/her.

QUESTIONING THE CONSTITUTIONAL NEED FOR GOVERNOR 

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)], which is leading the LDF, has been accusing the governor of “intentionally” delaying important Bills. The party had earlier also questioned the constitutional need for the Governor’s post. 

The CPI(M) has been demanding empowerment of state governments in appointing Governors in its party programme. Another LDF constituent, the Communist Party of India (CPI), has also been demanding reforms in the appointment of governors.

While there is no time limit imposed on Governors to approve  Bills and ordinances passed and promulgated by the state governments, several state governments, including Tamil Nadu, have been accusing the Governor of “inordinately delaying” the approval of Bills, hampering the activities of the government.

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