The tug of war between the constitutional head of the state i.e., the Governor, and the elected government in several states of the country regarding the legislative powers of the Governor is deep-rooted and has been perennial for decades. The Constitution of India has vested the Governor with several legislative powers among which one such power is the power of assent.  Article 200 has been a source of tension between the State Legislature and the Governor’s office in recent times. This article has been used on several occasions to block bills.

AIM: In recent times the State governments of several states in India and the Governors are in a strife for authority. Therefore, it is essential at this point to study the circumstances that are paving way for such tussle and to analyse the actual powers that are vested to the constitutional authorities by the supreme law of the land under Article 200 and explore the Governor’s role in the legislative process and how it affects the functioning of the Indian democracy.


Article 200 is a crucial component in the large and intricate fabric of the Indian Constitution. By making certain no bill passes becomes law without appropriate assessment, this clause ensures the welfare and protects the rights and liberties of the citizens. The Governor though a nominated representative is deemed to be the constitutional head of the state and is consequently vested with several constitutional powers and responsibilities.

 Federalism and cooperative governance are the fundamentals of the Indian Constitution. Therefore, while he has the power to act in his own discretion under article 163, it is vital to take into account that the governor does not possess an unfettered authority and a vast majority of such functions are to be exercised by him with the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers. While the State legislatures pass bills for the benefit of the general public at large, the governors at times, sit on the bills indefinitely without taking any action. This article is an analysis of whether the governors’ action of withholding the bills indefinitely is constitutional and reasonable. 


One of the key powers vested in the governor is the power of assent. The governor’s authority to assent is only one aspect of his or her part in the legislative process. In addition, the governor has the power to address and send message to the house, as well as prorogue and dissolve the state legislature. These abilities provide the governor great influence over the legislative body’s operation and proceedings. 

It also outlines provisions for the Governor to return a bill for reconsideration if there are valid reasons to do so which further emphasizes the Governor’s role in scrutinizing legislation and exercise independent judgement.  By exercising this power, the Governor acts as a custodian of the Constitution and

However, it is pertinent to highlight that the Governor’s power of assent is not absolute.  Governor does not enjoy the power to veto a bill passed by the legislature, but may withhold assent and return the same to legislature for reconsideration.

  • In the State of Tamil Nadu, the clash between the state government and the Governor Mr. R.N. Ravi has intensified to such an extent that the State government has moved the SC of India exercising article 32 of the Indian Constitution. Documents provided in response to a petition initiated by The Hindu through the Right to Information Act revealed that the Governor is still  to give assent to the Tamil Nadu Fisheries University (Amendment) Bill, 2020, and the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
  • In another similar instance in the State of Kerala, CM Pinarayi Vijayan led government has decided to approach the Apex Court challenging Governor Arif Mohammed Khan for withholding assent indefinitely to 8 bills passed by the State Government.
  • Likewise, in an yet another similar case the State Government of Punjab has moved the Supreme Court against Governor Banwarilal Purohit for sitting indefinitely on several important bills which includes the state’s fiscal responsibility bill.
  • West Bengal- West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Bill 2022 to replace Governor with CM as Chancellor of state universities was passed earlier during the period of former Governor Jagdeep Dhankar, to which he withheld his assent. The contentions of the state Government were supported by the Punchhi Committee report which stated that “… to be able to discharge the Constitutional obligations fairly and impartially, the Governor should not be overburdened with positions and powers which are not envisaged under the constitution and which may expose the office to controversies and public criticism.” Now the controversial bill has been once again passed in 2023.
  • While the State of Telangana approached the Supreme Court in a similar issue, the court stated that “the expression as soon as possible contains significant constitutional content and must be borne in mind by constitutional authorities.”
  • Another significant case that illustrates the complexities surrounding around Article 200 is the Uttarakhand political crisis in 2016. In this case, the State Assembly had passed a Finance Bill, which was subsequently sent to the Governor for his assent. However, the Governor refused to give his assent and instead sent the bill for reconsideration by the assembly. This led to a political standoff and ultimately resulted in imposition of President’s rule in the state.

In any democratic system, tensions between the executive and legislative branches are inevitable which arise due to the inherent nature of the separation of powers and the need to maintain a balance of power between the executive and legislative branches which represents the executive authority and the will of the people respectively. Ministers are the democratically elected representatives of the people, while the Governor is just a nominated official of the state. He is not entitled to the same reverence and authority as that of the ministers.

The governor does not carry out executive duties on a personal or individual basis. Executive action is taken by the State Government at different levels under the Governor’s name in compliance with the business standards established by Article 166(3). Therefore, the State Government, not the Governor, is the one who may sue and may be sued in respect of any action taken in the exercise and performance of the powers and duties of his office.”

This notion, that states that the Council of Ministers exercises genuine and highly efficient powers, is the bedrock of the parliamentary system of government because authority should be exerted by effective responsibility as well.


Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramayya, once a Governor of MP remarked that “the duties of the Governor lay more in entertaining visitors and providing them the lunches and dinners than anything else. He pointed out that he was supposed to send a fortnightly report to the President of India but apart from entertainment he did not know what to report.”

Sri Prakasa as the Governor of Madras also once remarked his experience as a Governor when he said that “ordinarily he was supposed to sign on dotted lines.”

Sarojini Naidu, the one-time Governor of UP had said that she considered herself “a bird in a golden cage”

“He is a nominal executive head. He surrenders all his legal powers to his ministers. In theory, the Governor is to act and the ministers are to advice but in practice the case is otherwise.”

When a bill has been passed without any amendments by the assembly after reconsideration, further, the Governor has no other option other than to assent to the bill. Hence, when the Governor finds the bill to be derogative of the provisions of the Constitution or the principles of natural justice, he becomes toothless to act against it once passed after reconsideration, this has eventually led them to exercise the power to withhold the bills, but for an indefinite period. Governor R. N. Ravi once remarked that “the bills once withheld are dead.”.

It is unacceptable to limit the office of the Governors merely to be a sanctuary for politicians as they are constitutionally vested with several powers, may it be, executive, legislative or judiciary.


The power of assent under Article 200 acts as a check and balance mechanism, allowing the governor to ensure that the laws being enacted are in accordance with the principles and provisions of the Constitution and serves as a means to maintain the harmony between state legislature and the executive, preventing any potential misuse or abuse of this power.

By granting or withholding the assent, the Governor acts as a neutral arbiter, responsible for evaluating the proposed legislation in light of constitutional principles and the interests of the state. This process helps maintain the delicate balance between the powers of the legislature and the executive, preventing any arbitrary or unconstitutional actions. In essence, the Governor’s assent plays a vital role in upholding the principles of parliamentary democracy and rule of law.

  • The Constitution bench of the Supreme Court interpreted the expression “as soon as possible” observed that “The substantive part of Article 200 empowers the Governor to withhold assent to the Bill. In such an event, the Governor must mandatorily follow the course of action which is indicated in the first proviso of communicating to the State Legislature “as soon as possible” a message warranting the reconsideration of the Bill. The expression “as soon as possible” is significant. It conveys a constitutional imperative of expedition. Actions that are incompatible with that statement include not taking calls on the bills and holding onto lawfully passed legislation for extended periods of time. Constitutional language is not surplusage.”
  • In an yet another landmark judgement by the apex court it was observed that, “The expression “as soon as possible” has significant constitutional content and must be borne in mind by constitutional authorities.”
  • In State (NCT of Delhi) v. Union of India, Justice Dr. D Y Chandrachud observed that “These cases involve vital questions about democratic governance and the role of institutions in fulfilling Constitutional values. How good a system works in practice must depend upon the statesmanship of those who are in decision-making positions within them. Hence, these cases are as much about interpreting the Constitution as they are about the role of institutions in the structure of democratic governance and the frailties of those who must answer the concerns of citizens.”
  • Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud while hearing a petition filed by the State of Tamilnadu commented that “after a bill has been repassed, the ‘Bill is placed on the same footing as the money bill,’ meaning that it cannot further be sent back for reconsideration”
  • THE RAJAMANNAR COMMITTEE- The committee emphasized that the Governor of the state should not consider himself as an agent of the Union but play his role as the constitutional head of the State.
  • NCRWC REPORT- The NCRWC made the following recommendations relating to the Governor’s assent to bill:
    • To fix a time limit within which the Governor should take a decision.
    • Delete the words “or that he withholds assent therefrom.” In other words, the power to withhold the assent, conferred upon the Governor, by Article 200 should be done away with.

In conclusion, the Indian Constitution strikes a delicate balance between executive power and democratic principles through the provisions of Article 200 and the Governor’s assent. While Article 200 empowers the Governor to reserve certain bills for the consideration of the President, ensuring a check on legislative actions, the Governor’s assent acts as a safeguard for democratic principles. 

Furthermore, it is important for the executive and legislative branches to engage in constructive dialogue and cooperation. This can help resolve any potential tensions arising  from the exercise of executive and legislative branches can be fostered, ensuring both effective governance and the preservation of democratic principles. 

Ultimately, the successful navigation of these tensions requires a constant commitment to democratic values, a robust understanding of constitutional provisions, and a responsible exercise of power by all branches of government.  


One proposed reform is to redefine the scope and powers of Article 200, which deals with the Governor’s power to withhold assent to bills passed by the State legislature but reforming could upset this delicate balance and potentially undermine the principles of federalism.

Another suggested reform is to introduce a time limit within which the Governor must give assent of withhold it. This would prevent the undue delay in the enactment of important legislation and provide certainty to the legislative process. 

Additionally, Governor should be required to provides detailed reason for withholding assent, thereby increasing transparency and accountability.

There should be balancing of the powers of the Governor and the State legislature while upholding democratic principles and constitutional values is crucial for maintaining the integrity and effectiveness of the Indian Constitutional system.

  4. The Indian Journal of Political Science 53(4), 505-523, 1992
  7. S. L. Kaeley- Indian Constitution: Full view at a glance

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