The Tamil Nadu Assembly, in a special sitting on Saturday, readopted 10 Bills that were recently returned by Governor R N Ravi. The Bills cover various departments, including law, agriculture, and higher education among others.
The main Opposition AIADMK and the BJP separately walked out of the Assembly before the readoption of the Bills, asking why a special meeting was being held when the government has already taken the matter to the Supreme Court. The readopted Bills were later sent to the Governor for his assent.
Governor Ravi had returned the Bills on November 13, stirring yet another political row in the state. Chief Minister M K Stalin said in the Assembly that the Governor had only mentioned “I withhold assent” to the Bills, but did not give any reason for his decision. He criticised the Governor’s action as an affront to the state’s elected representatives and an undermining of democratic principles. Stalin, who moved the resolution on Saturday to reconsider the Bills, emphasised that under Article 200 of the Constitution, the Governor “shall not withhold assent” once a Bill is passed again by the Assembly.
He alleged that the Governor has been trying to block the Tamil Nadu government’s initiatives and that non-BJP-ruled states are being “targeted” by the Centre “through Governors”. Stalin said it was the duty of the Governor to give assent to Bills passed by the House that has an elected government and that the Governor “can seek legal or administrative clarification from the government if required, and the government has to provide it”.
“At no instance have such clarifications not been given. In such a situation, him (governor) not giving assent to the Bills passed by the Assembly due to his whims and fancies and returning them amounts to insulting the people of Tamil Nadu and this House,” Stalin said. “This House resolves that under Rule 143 of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly rules the following Bills may be reconsidered by this Assembly,” the Chief Minister said.
Six of the 10 Bills readopted in the Assembly were passed last year, and two were adopted by the House in 2020 and 2023, including a Bill passed by the previous AIADMK regime to change the name of Tamil Nadu Fisheries University to Tamil Nadu Dr J Jayalalithaa Fisheries University, and another one to include a government nominee in the selection panel for the appointment of vice-chancellor of the varsity.
The other Bills include those aimed at amending university laws, granting the state government the authority to appoint vice-chancellors to 12 universities under the administrative oversight of the higher education department. They seek to amend Acts governing several key universities, including Tamil Nadu Dr Ambedkar Law University, Tamil Nadu Dr MGR Medical University, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Tamil University, Tamil Nadu Fisheries University, and Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University. The overarching aim of these amendments is to enhance governmental power within these institutions.
Another Bill, taking inspiration from the university laws in Gujarat, Telangana and Karnataka,seeks to amend the Madras University Act. This amendment, sent to the Governor last April, aimed to shift the power of appointing the vice-chancellors from the Governor, who traditionally holds the Chancellor’s position, to the state government. Another Bill aims to establish a distinct Siddha medical university dedicated to the Indian system of medicine near Chennai.
The original plan was to set up an umbrella institution which will support dozens of government and private colleges in the state that specialise in traditional medical practices such as siddha, ayurveda, unani, yoga, naturopathy, and homoeopathy. Governor Ravi had returned the 10 Bills days after the Supreme Court expressed “serious concern” over Governors not acting on pending Bills. His decision prompted the DMK government, which has had several public disagreements with Ravi over the past year, to call a special Assembly session on Saturday to take up the Bills again.
Source: The Indian Express