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Daily Current Affairs 09.02.2022 (Haryana Cabinet nod for anti-conversion Bill,T.N. Assembly re-adopts NEET Bill,Posts on Kashmir unacceptable: Centre,Hijab-saffron row turns violent in Karnataka,‘NEET is discriminatory, against social justice’,Step up agri-spending, boost farm incomes,Sri Lanka to launch its own ‘Aadhaar’,13 million face severe hunger in Africa: UN,The Governor’s role in approving a Bill)

Daily Current Affairs 09.02.2022 (Haryana Cabinet nod for anti-conversion Bill,T.N. Assembly re-adopts NEET Bill,Posts on Kashmir unacceptable: Centre,Hijab-saffron row turns violent in Karnataka,‘NEET is discriminatory, against social justice’,Step up agri-spending, boost farm incomes,Sri Lanka to launch its own ‘Aadhaar’,13 million face severe hunger in Africa: UN,The Governor’s role in approving a Bill)

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1. Haryana Cabinet nod for anti-conversion Bill

‘Umpteen cases of religious conversions recorded’

The Haryana Cabinet on Tuesday approved the draft of the Haryana Prevention of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Bill, 2022, which seeks to prohibit religious conversion effected through misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage or for marriage, by making it an offence.

According to the draft Bill, the burden of proof “lies on the accused”. The draft Bill will now be tabled before the Assembly, an official statement said.

Higher punishment

The Bill, on the lines of recent anti-conversion laws passed in other States, proposes to make conversion by marriage an offence.

It also prescribes higher punishment for conversion of minors, women, and members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.

The draft Bill’s statements of objectives and reasons read, “The Constitution confers on each individual the fundamental right to profess, practise and propagate his religion. However, the individual right to freedom of conscience and religion cannot be extended to construe a collective right to proselytize; for the right to religious freedom belongs equally to the person converting and the individual sought to be converted.”

‘Hidden agenda’

It added that there have been umpteen cases of religious conversions, both mass and individual.

“Obviously, such incidents have been hotly debated, more so in a multi-religious society, such as ours. The presence of pseudo-social organisations with a hidden agenda to convert the vulnerable sections of other religions. There have been instances when gullible people have been converted by offering allurement or under undue influence. Some have been forced to convert to other religions.”

It pointed out that in the recent past, there have been instances where to increase the strength of their own religion by getting people from other religions converted, people marry persons of other religion by either misrepresentation or concealment of their own religion and after getting married they force such other person to convert to their own religion.

2. T.N. Assembly re-adopts NEET Bill

Move marks a historic first; the Bill was earlier returned by Governor R.N. Ravi

A special session of the Tamil Nadu Assembly on Tuesday ‘unanimously’ re-adopted a Bill that seeks to dispense with NEET for admission to undergraduate medical courses in the State. The Bill, previously adopted last September, was recently returned by Governor R.N. Ravi.

Moving the Bill in the House, Chief Minister M.K. Stalin said, “We have not gathered here only for discussing NEET. We have gathered here to protect the integrity and the rights of the Tamil Nadu legislature. The philosophy of cooperative federalism is to protect the many communities, languages and cultures. We have gathered here to protect cooperative federalism.”

Except the four members of the BJP, who staged a walkout from the House, opposing the Tamil Nadu government’s decision, all political parties, including the principal Opposition party, the AIADMK, supported the Bill moved by Mr. Stalin.

Since all legislators present during the voice vote supported the Bill, Speaker M. Appavu declared that it had been adopted unanimously.

This is the first time that the House has re-adopted a Bill returned by the Governor.

3. Posts on Kashmir unacceptable: Centre

Jaishankar speaks to South Korean counterpart

Terming as “unacceptable” social media posts calling for Kashmiri “freedom” by various multinational companies (MNCs) based in Pakistan, the government on Tuesday went on a diplomatic overdrive.

While External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar spoke to his South Korean counterpart Chung Eui-yong to protest against the posts put out by Hyundai Motor Company, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) conveyed to a number of other countries that it found the posts “offensive”, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal told Parliament.

Apart from South Korean companies Hyundai and Kia, the Pakistani branches of American MNCs KFC and Pizza Hut, Japanese companies Osaka batteries, Atlas Honda Ltd. and Isuzu as well as German pharmaceutical company Schwabe had carried posts expressing “solidarity” with “Kashmiri brothers and sisters”, and “praying for the liberation” on February 5, which is marked as “Kashmir solidarity day” in Pakistan.

South Korean Ambassador Chang Jae Bok was summoned to South Block by the MEA, while Indian Ambassador to Seoul Sripriya Ranganathan sought an explanation from Hyundai and Kia for the posts. “The strong displeasure of the government on the unacceptable social media post by Hyundai Pakistan was conveyed to [the Korean Ambassador],” MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said in a statement.

4. Hijab-saffron row turns violent in Karnataka

Prohibitory orders in Shivamogga; tension in colleges across the State

Tension over the issue of dress code not only spread to more colleges but also took a violent turn on many campuses on Tuesday across Karnataka.

Protests and counter protests over wearing hijab or saffron shawl in classrooms continued, with instances of stone pelting, lathicharge, and detention as preventive measure reported.

At Shivamogga, the protests turned violent, forcing the district administration to clamp prohibitory orders until Wednesday evening in the city. Hundreds of students took part in the protests against hijab on college campuses, while those in support of hijab took out a march.

The protest turned violent as both the groups came face-to-face on B.H. Road near the Science Field.

A few protesters threw stones, leaving a couple of students injured. There was police force deployed on all college campuses in the district.

At Sagar town in the same district, as many as seven people suffered injuries during stone-pelting.

The protest and counter-protests took a violent turn in Banahatti town of Bagalkot district too, where few among the protesters allegedly pelted stones on the government college premises, forcing the police to use canes to disperse them. Trouble started after saffron shawl-clad students gained forceful entry on the college premises and staged protest while hijab-clad girl students accompanied by their parents sat on dharna on the Jamakhandi-Kudachi Road. One student was injured in the incident.

In another incident reported from Sindhanur in Raichur district, 12 students were taken into preventive custody after tension mounted outside government degree college as two groups entered into arguments. They were released later.

At Government PU College, Mannur in Afzalpur taluk, Kalaburagi district, the principal managed to convince students to attend classes after taking out shawls and hijabs. Of the seven hijab-clad girls, five attended classes after taking off hijabs, while two returned saying they required their parents’ permission to do so.

Meanwhile, at Udupi district, where the row had its genesis, yet another college campus saw tension.

The Mahatma Gandhi Memorial PU College declared a holiday after some students turned up wearing saffron shawls with saffron peta and another lot turned up wearing hijab.

5. ‘NEET is discriminatory, against social justice’

The NEET Exemption Bill not only defends the right to education and social rights but also upholds Tamil Nadu’s rights

Hon’ble Speaker of the House. Elections were held in the Province of Madras when the electoral system was first established in India to elect people’s representatives by the people. The Justice Party, pioneer of the Dravidian movement, formed the government in the first general election in 1920, when the country was under British rule.

All those who travelled to India from England to observe the working of the Madras Provincial Assembly remarked that the Madras Province is the only province in India governed by the rule of law and administrative protocols.

This is a significant day in the history of this House, which established such democratic values. We have assembled here to defend democracy, to preserve democracy’s dignity, to uphold the principle of federalism, and to secure the right to education.

To defend federal philosophy

We are not only getting together to talk about the NEET Exam [the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test]. We have gathered to preserve the Tamil Nadu Legislature’s sovereignty and rights. Federalism is a fundamental idea that truly safeguards the ethnic, linguistic, and cultural diversity of the Indian subcontinent! We have come together to ensure that the great federal philosophy remains intact.

I stand in this Assembly that has laid the foundation for success in upholding social justice, legal justice, oppressed people’s rights, the greatness of Tamil ethnic community and its language. And I speak with the confidence that this Assembly can and will definitely eliminate the social injustice of NEET. Today, we are here in this Special Assembly to propose a policy of social justice in education for the entire country, having been trained in the footsteps of our leader Anna. To quench students’ passion for medical education, we have all come together to work in solidarity and promote social justice.

NEET is not a system established by the Constitution. It was not made a part of the Constitution. The Medical Council of India mandated the creation of NEET. When such an examination was proposed in 2010, Muthamizharinar Kalaignar, the then-Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, vehemently opposed it.

Much opposed

It was also opposed by a number of Indian States. This examination has been challenged in 115 cases across India. Tamil Nadu is the State that is leading the charge in this direction. All of these cases were heard by the Supreme Court.

NEET was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court itself on July 18, 2013. The Chief Justice of India delivered the judgment. The exam was subsequently abolished across the Indian subcontinent.

However, after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the election and formed the government, a private training institute reopened the issue. The Supreme Court heard the case of NEET. “Judgment is recalled” and “Hear this case afresh,” the Supreme Court said on May 24, 2016 after hearing the case. On this basis, the BJP-led Union government issued an ordinance on April 11, 2016, which quickly implemented NEET across the country.

Private training institutes benefit from NEET. The NEET Exemption Bill is being introduced for the benefit of those who cannot afford to pay so much for training. NEET is an impediment to the entitlement of poor and needy children to education. In their dream of becoming doctors, a barrier wall has been placed in the name of NEET. “You can’t be a doctor,” says NEET. “You don’t deserve it,” it says, halting one’s progress. That is why the NEET Exemption Bill has been introduced. I do not think I need to go into great detail about the abnormalities in that exam at this assembly.

So, to summarise, NEET is not a holy cow. It attempts to marginalise students from low-income families in the guise of merit. As a result, we oppose the examination and demand an exemption.

The question I would want to address in this forum is whether NEET, which has sent some students to the graveyard and others to jail, is really required. This is a question that has been raised by the entire student community as well as parents.

A detailed review

On June 19, 2021, a committee led by retired High Court judge A.K. Rajan was formed to investigate the issues and submit a report on the effects of NEET on poor and backward students. The public was consulted. On July 14, 2021, the Committee submitted a 193-page report to the Government based on those comments. They claimed that Government school students were unable to follow their dreams of pursuing a medical education.

I have formed a committee under the leadership of the Chief Secretary to provide detailed recommendations on this report. After careful consideration, the Bill exempting Tamil Nadu from NEET was enacted by this Assembly. We did a lot of study and were able to pass this Bill, supported with factual information.

The NEET Exemption Bill was passed with the support of all members of this House, with the exception of four BJP members. The Bill reflected not only the sentiments of Tamil Nadu as a whole, but also the Assembly’s notion of its sovereignty.

It had to be approved by the Hon’ble Governor, and he should have sent it to the Hon’ble President for his approval. Instead, he kept it pending for 142 days before reaching a decision — despite our numerous requests — and then returned it to us. In this Assembly, I must state unequivocally that the reasons he cited for rejecting the Bill were incorrect.

On June 10, 2021, the Justice A.K. Rajan Committee was set up under G.O. No.283, Department of Health and Family Welfare. The committee was made up of academics and government officials. The study’s terms of reference were also made public by this high-level group.

The public was asked to provide feedback to the committee. Hundreds of thousands of people had expressed their opinions to the Commission by email, mail, and petition boxes put in various locations.

According to the recommendation, NEET has limited the diversity of community representation in MBBS and higher medical courses by impeding the desire of those underprivileged of receiving medical education and favouring the socio-economically rich sections. The statistics for this can be found in the report as well. According to the survey, government schoolchildren, those whose parents’ annual income is less than ₹2.5 lakh, the backward (BC), the most backward (MBC), Scheduled Castes (SC), and Scheduled Tribes (ST) are the most affected.

The Governor criticised the study for claiming that NEET is “against merit”. It is worth noting that the report of the Justice A.K. Rajan committee includes proven facts rejecting this. Among those chosen so far, rural poor students have been affected. According to the research, those who studied in the Tamil medium in government schools are also harmed. At this point, I strongly advise that no one mistakenly counts those who benefit from the Government of Tamil Nadu’s 7.5% reservation as having profited from NEET.

The power to legislate

A five-judge Supreme Court Bench heard the matter of Modern Dental College vs Madhya Pradesh government. The Supreme Court verdict was clear: The State government has the power to legislate on student admissions to higher education institutions.

In a separate judgment delivered by Justice Banumathi in the same case, she also ruled that the law regulating student admission was within the jurisdiction of the State government. We passed the Bill against NEET solely using the legislative power of the State legislature.

The Governor has urged that NEET be made mandatory by the Constitution. According to the Constitution, any legal provision can be made, but only for the rights of the socially and economically disadvantaged. We are bringing this NEET Exemption Bill back on that basis. The Constitution is anti-discriminatory. However, NEET is inherently discriminatory. Social justice is emphasised in constitutional law. NEET, on the other hand, is opposed to social justice. The term “justice of the law” is used in constitutional law. But NEET favours the rich. The Indian Constitution is built on the principle of equality. NEET, on the other hand, is the polar opposite of equality. NEET is opposed to all of the Constitution’s fundamental rights. That is why we are requesting NEET exemption.

My pain stems from having to debate for so long about a dreadful exam that disproportionately impacts poor and rural students.

The return of this Bill has also put into doubt the right of our State of Tamil Nadu. This legislature’s sovereignty has been brought into question. The autonomy of States has been questioned. That is what concerns me. What will happen to the constitutionally mandated relationship between the Union and State governments? What are the rights and responsibilities of people of various races, languages, and cultures?

We passed a Bill on September 13, 2021 to exempt students from NEET based on the power we have. The Governor is required by law to reserve it to the President for approval. I expect the Governor to carry out his responsibilities correctly. That is the Governor’s responsibility, which is limited by the legislative power of the legislature, which is elected by the people.

I hope that the Governor will respect the sentiments of the people of Tamil Nadu and act in the best interests of the students of Tamil Nadu by sending the NEET Exemption Bill to the President without delay, which will be reconsidered and passed under the power conferred on the people elected by the Legislature by the Constitution. I urge everyone to support this Bill in order to defend the right to education, which has been denied for a long time, as well as the State rights of Tamil Nadu and the social rights of Scheduled Castes, tribals, backward/most backward/the oppressed/the poor/the marginalised/and rural peoples.

Hail Tamil Nadu!

6. Step up agri-spending, boost farm incomes

India’s poor AOI is a stark reminder of the need to attain a key sustainable development goal of higher agri-growth

While the overall budgetary allocation towards the agricultural sector has marginally increased by 4.4% in the Union Budget 2022-23, the rate of increase is lower than the current inflation rate of 5.5%-6%. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) report for 2001 to 2019 shows that, globally, India is among the top 10 countries in terms of government spending in agriculture, constituting a share of around 7.3% of its total government expenditure. However, India lags behind several low-income countries such as Malawi (18%), Mali (12.4%), Bhutan (12%), Nepal (8%), as well as upper middle-income countries such as Guyana (10.3%) and China (9.6%).

India is ranked low

The picture changes and rather looks disappointing when we look at the Agriculture Orientation Index (AOI) — an index which was developed as part of the Goal 2 (Zero Hunger) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015. The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 emphasises an increase in investment in rural infrastructure, agricultural research and extension services, development of technology to enhance agricultural productivity and eradication of poverty in middle- and lower-income countries. The AOI is calculated by dividing the agriculture share of government expenditure by the agriculture value added share of GDP. In other words, it measures the ratio between government spending towards the agricultural sector and the sector’s contribution to GDP. India’s index is one of the lowest, reflecting that the spending towards the agricultural sector is not commensurate with the sector’s contribution towards GDP.

A comparison with Asia

Although the AOI has shown an improvement since the mid-2000s, as part of the general revival that took place in several middle-income countries, India’s AOI (https://bit.ly/3rBSorH) is one of the lowest in Asia and among several other middle-income and upper-income countries. Asia as a whole performs much better, with a relatively higher performance by Eastern Asian countries. China has been doing remarkably well with an index steadily improving and crossing one.

Similarly, in countries such as the Republic of Korea, the value of AOI has been greater than one and greater than two since 2005-06 respectively. Even lower income African countries such as Zambia, have commendable spending in the agricultural sector despite being a landlocked country. India holds only the 38th rank in the world, despite being an agrarian economy wherein a huge population is dependent on the agricultural sector for its livelihood, and despite being among the largest producers of several crops produced and consumed in the world.

The enormous spending on the agricultural sector by East Asian countries is also reflected in their higher crop yield. For example, the total cereal yield in India is only around 3,282 kilograms per hectare compared to 4,225 kg per hectare in Asia. Within the Asian region, Eastern Asia has the highest cereal yield of 6,237 kg per hectare. In China, even with an average land holding size of 0.6 hectares, which is much lower than India’s average land holding size, the performance of the sector in terms of crop yield is much higher than India. For example, the cereal yield is 6,296 kg per hectare, pulses yield is 1,815 kg per hectare and vegetable crops yield is 25,546 kg per hectare in China; the corresponding figures for India are 3,282 kg, 704 kg, and 15,451 kg, respectively. Both India and China are among the world’s largest producers of wheat, rice, cotton and maize.

A closer look at the budgetary allocation towards the agricultural sector shows that there has been a drastic slashing of funds toward important schemes such as crop insurance and minimum support price (MSP). Even with an overall increase in budgetary outlays, the allocation towards Market Intervention Scheme and Price Support Scheme (MIS-PSS) was only ₹1,500 crore. This is 62% less than the previous allocation of ₹3,959.61 crore in revised estimates (RE) of FY 2021-22.

Other significant reductions

Similarly, the Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay SanraksHan Abhiyan (PM-AASHA) experienced a significant reduction to only one crore as against the allocation of ₹400 crore in 2021-22. It was allocated just ₹1 crore for the year as against an expenditure of ₹400 crore in 2021-22. Both schemes are pertinent to ensure MSP-based procurement operations in the country, especially for pulses and oil seeds. Furthermore, the distribution of pulses to States for welfare schemes has also been reduced to ₹9 crore as compared to the ₹50 crore of FY 2021-22 (revised estimates) and the allocated amount of ₹300 crore in the year 2021-22. Additionally, there is an overall reduction in ₹718.8 crore in total central schemes/projects, which may have serious implications for the performance of the sector.

While one can still argue that the capital investment in the agricultural sector is more crucial than price support programmes, there has not been any considerable and commensurate increase in the allocation towards capital investment, especially for promotion of rural infrastructure and marketing facilities. Allocation for rural development was 5.59% in the previous Budget and it has been reduced to 5.23%. The allocation of funds towards schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM KISAN), Pradhan Mantri Kisan Maandhan Yojana, though desirable, will not result in long run asset generation.

Measures to implement

The intensification in government spending towards the agricultural sector is the key to attain the sustainable development goals of higher agricultural growth and farm income. The focus on development of irrigation facilities, urban infrastructure and development of national highways must be complemented with an emphasis on the development of rural infrastructure and rural transportation facilities, along with an increase in the number of markets, as suggested by the National Commission on Farmers. These measures will play a crucial role in enhancing farmers’ access to markets and integrating small and marginal farmers into the agricultural supply chain to a greater extent.

7. Sri Lanka to launch its own ‘Aadhaar’

India agrees to provide a grant to implement the ‘digital identity framework’

India has agreed to provide a grant to Sri Lanka to implement a ‘Unitary Digital Identity framework’, apparently modelled on the Aadhaar card. The Rajapaksa government will “prioritise” the implementation of the Framework as a national level programme, Sri Lanka’s Cabinet decided on Monday.

“Under the proposed Unitary Digital Identity Framework, it is expected to introduce a personal identity verification device based on biometric data, a digital tool that can represent the identities of individuals in cyberspace, and the identification of individual identities that can be accurately verified in digital and physical environments by combining the two devices,” according to a statement released by the Department of Government Information on Tuesday.

The initiative follows bilateral talks between President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in December 2019.

Sri Lanka’s Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal made by Mr. Rajapaksa, in his capacity as the Minister of Technology, to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with India, in order to obtain the grant and take the project forward.

It also comes amid substantive economic assistance from India — totalling $ 1.4 billion since the beginning of this year — to Sri Lanka, to help the island nation cope with its dollar crunch, and import food, medicines and fuel amid frequent shortages.

While India has confirmed support for Sri Lanka’s effort to transition to a digital identity system, there is no official information yet on the value of the grant, and whether it would include technological support or training. Queried on the specifics of the agreement, Colombo-based official sources said the terms of the agreement are “being worked out”.

This is not the first time that Sri Lanka is attempting to digitise its citizens’ identities. Just a few years ago, the predecessor Maithripala Sirisena-Ranil Wickremesinghe administration, in power from 2015 to 2019, mooted a similar Electronic-National Identity Card — or E-NIC —that privacy advocates opposed on grounds that the state would have full access to citizens’ personal data in a central database.

The former Mahinda Rajapaksa government tried initiating the project as early as 2011. Neither project was implemented.

8. 13 million face severe hunger in Africa: UN

Drought conditions have left an estimated 13 million people facing severe hunger in the Horn of Africa, according to the United Nations World Food Program.

People in a region including Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya face the driest conditions recorded since 1981, the agency reported on Tuesday, calling for immediate assistance to forestall a major humanitarian crisis.

Drought conditions are affecting pastoral and farming communities. Malnutrition rates are high in the region.

WFP said it needs $327 million to look after the urgent needs of 4.5 million people over the next six months.

9. The Governor’s role in approving a Bill

Can the Governor over-ride the decision of the Legislative Houses? Under what circumstances does the President step in?

The Tamil Nadu Assembly has once again adopted a Bill on the exemption of the NEET exams that was earlier returned by Governor R.N. Ravi. The Governor returned the bill stating that it was against the interests of rural and poor students.

The Governor will now have to grant his assent to the Bill as mandated by Article 200 of the Constitution. The first proviso of the article enables the Governor to return a Bill for reconsideration. If the Bill is passed again and presented for assent, “the Governor shall not withhold assent therefrom”.

The Governor does not have discretion on matters of the Assembly and is bound to follow the advice of the ministerial Council even on matters where he/she might be withholding assent.

The story so far: The Tamil Nadu Assembly has once again adopted a Bill that was earlier returned by Governor R.N. Ravi. The Bill seeks to grant exemption from the mandatory National Entrance-cum-Eligibility Test (NEET) for seats allotted by the Government in undergraduate medical and dental courses in Tamil Nadu. Last week, the Governor returned the Bill, contending that it was against the interests of rural and poor students.

What comes next?

There is no doubt that the Governor will now have to grant his assent to the Bill. Under Article 200 of the Constitution, which deals with grant of assent to Bills passed by the Assembly, the first proviso enables the Governor to return a Bill, that is not a Money Bill, with a message requesting the House, or Houses, if there is an upper chamber, to reconsider the Bill, or any provisions, and also consider introducing amendments he may recommend. The House will have to reconsider as suggested. If the Bill is passed again, with or without changes, and presented for assent, “the Governor shall not withhold assent therefrom”.

In the present case, the Bill will have to be sent to the President for his assent, as it is enacted under an entry in the Concurrent List on a subject that is covered by a central law. NEET is mandatory under Section 10D of the Indian Medical Council of India Act, an amendment introduced in 2016. Therefore, the State law can be in force only if the President grants his assent. This will cure the ‘repugnancy’ between the central and State laws.

What is the Governor’s function in passing a Bill?

Under Article 200, the Governor may (a) grant assent (b) withhold assent (c) return for reconsideration by the Legislature or (b) reserve for the consideration of the President any Bill passed by the State legislature and presented to him for assent.

There is no timeframe fixed in the Constitution for any of these functions. The Constitution makes it mandatory that the Governor should reserve for the President’s consideration if, in his opinion (a phrase that means he exercises his own discretion in this), a Bill that “so derogates from the powers of the High Court as to endanger the position which that Court is by this Constitution designed to fill”. In other words, any Bill that seems to clip the wings of the High Court or undermine its functioning will not become law without the President’s assent.

What happens when the President considers the Bill?

Once again, there is no timeframe. Article 201 says when a Bill is reserved by a Governor for his consideration, “the President shall declare either that he assents to the Bill, or that he withholds assent therefrom”. He may also direct the Governor to return the Bill, if it is not a Money Bill, to the Legislature along with a message. The House or Houses will have to reconsider the Bill within a period of six months from receiving it. It may pass the Bill again with or without any change. The Bill shall again be presented to the President for his consideration. The article ends with that. This means that the Bill will become law if the assent is given, but nothing can be done if the Bill is denied assent by the President or if he makes no decision.

Does the Governor have any discretion in this regard?

Section 75 of the Government of India Act, 1935, contained the words ‘in his discretion’ while referring to the Governor’s grant of assent to Bills. The phrase was consciously omitted when Article 175 in the draft Constitution (later renumbered as the present Article 200) was enacted. Commentators generally agree that the Governor, who normally functions on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers, is bound to go by the advice in the matter of granting assent. It may seem unusual to say the Governor should act on ministerial advice even when withholding assent and returning a Bill for reconsideration. However, a reading of the Constituent Assembly debates shows that this was indeed what the framers of the Constitution intended. It was explained on behalf of the drafting committee that there may be a situation when the Council of Ministers feels that a Bill has been hastily adopted or that it requires changes.

In such a situation, the Constitution must provide for the possibility that the Council may want to recall its Bill, and accordingly advise the Governor to return it.

While analysing the provision, the Sarkaria Commission on Union-State Relations points out that the Constitutional Adviser’s note said there could be occasions for even withholding assent on the advice of the Ministers.

For instance, if after a Bill is passed the Ministers resign before the Bill gets the Governor’s assent, the new Ministry may not want to go ahead with the Bill and might advise against assent being given. These examples suggest that no discretion was ever envisaged for the Governor in dealing with Bills.

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