The Supreme Court has reprimanded Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit for his delay in granting assent to bills passed by the state assembly. The Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, who headed the bench, criticized the governor, stating that he was "playing with fire" by obstructing the legislative process. The court stressed the significance of respecting the bills passed by duly elected members of the assembly and urged the governor not to deviate from the course of action.
The Punjab government took the matter to the Supreme Court, expressing concern over the governor's alleged delay in granting assent to crucial bills, including those related to fiscal management and gurudwara administration. During the October 20-21 assembly session, the governor initially withheld approval for three money bills, leading to a premature end to the session since the governor's assent is vital for the tabling of money bills.
Purohit had claimed that the October session was illegal and any business conducted during it would be unlawful. However, he eventually gave his approval to two of the three bills. Meanwhile, the Sikh Gurdwaras (Amendment) Bill, 2023, the Punjab Universities Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2023, the Punjab Police (Amendment) Bill, 2023, and the Punjab Affiliated Colleges (Security of Service) Amendment Bill, 2023 still await the governor's assent, as they were previously passed during the June session, which the governor had deemed "patently illegal."
During the hearing of the plea filed by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Punjab, the Chief Justice questioned the governor's authority to declare the session called by the Speaker as invalid. The court sought details of the action taken by the governor on the bills cleared by the assembly.
This incident has heightened the Supreme Court's concerns regarding Raj Bhavans not promptly acting on bills passed by state legislatures. The court directed Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to provide information regarding the actions taken by the Punjab governor on the bills passed by the assembly.
The Supreme Court's reproach serves as a reminder of the importance of upholding the legislative process and enforcing timely actions on bills passed by the elected assembly members.