Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Tuesday signed one bill passed by the state Assembly into law and sent seven others pending assent for up to three years to President Droupadi Murmu for consideration, reported Onmanorama.

Khan’s action came after the Supreme Court on November 24 asked him to go through its November 10 verdict stating that governors cannot veto the functioning of the Legislature or keep bills placed before them for assent pending indefinitely.

Bills passed by legislatures become law only after the governor signs off on them. Article 200 of the Constitution gives governors the power to either grant their approval to a bill, reject it or in some cases, reserve it for the president’s consideration “as soon as possible”.

Telangana, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have approached the Supreme Court alleging that governors in these states were stymying legislative and executive work.

In its judgement, a bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud said that the expression “as soon as possible” in Article 200 conveys a “constitutional imperative of expedition”.

On Tuesday, Khan approved the Kerala Public Health Bill, 2022. The law proposes that public health protection should be beyond mere diagnosis and curative services.

Two University Amendment Bills, the Kerala Lokayukta Bill, two University Laws (Amendment) Bills, a bill regarding the expansion of the University Search Committee and the Kerala Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Bill have been sent for presidential assent.

In its plea, the Kerala government told the court on November 2 that Khan’s delay in considering eight bills threatens to subvert the foundations of the Constitution and defeat the rights of the people of the state. Three of the eight bills have been pending with the governor for more than two years. Three other bills have been pending for over a year, the state government said.

“Many of the bills involve immense public interest, and provide for welfare measures which would stand deprived and denied to the people of the State to the extent of the delay,” the petition said. “Grave injustice is being done to the people of the State, as also to its representative democratic institutions.”

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court recorded that Khan had referred bills to the president and ordered the Kerala government to file an amendment application to broaden its current petition.

Senior Advocate KK Venugopal, representing the Kerala government, contended that some of the bills were originally ordinances promulgated by the governor and Khan had no reason to refer them to the president.

The court permitted the state government to include this point in the amended application.

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