Thiruvananthapuram: Legal experts and political leaders have started raising the criticism that Kerala Governor is exercising extra-constitutional powers in the matter of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) debates. By dismissing the resolution passed by the Assembly jointly by the ruling LDF and Opposition UDF, the governor has only intensified his tussle with the mainstream political blocks of Kerala.
Both fronts view that the governor's public statement that the assembly's resolution demanding rescinding of CAA has no legal or constitutional validity as not befitting the office of the governor, which is generally deemed as above party politics. And legal experts affirm that there is nothing illegal in the resolution. The assembly's view reflected in it is only a political statement of the state, which demands repeal of the act as it violates the secular principle of the country.
Paradoxically enough, even the lone BJP MLA, who was present during the assembly voting, did not vote against the motion. Advocate Kaleeswaram Raj told Madhyamam that the governor's statement was inappropriate, and doubted that the governor was using powers that he did not have. As per the constitution, the governor's powers are very limited, he added.
At the same time, governor Arif Mohammad Khan's antecedental action also have come to the fore regarding his take that Kerala has an obligation to obey the law once passed by parliament. Khan is one who had resigned from the central cabinet in protest against the law passed by parliament in 1986 during Rajiv Gandhi's rule, following the Supreme Court verdict regarding Shah Bano case.
Meanwhile, parties cutting across political borders have come out against the acts of the governor who, they allege is playing a political game like the West Bengal governor of late. Minister AK Balan asserted that the resolution passed by the assembly was perfectly legal, and similar resolutions were passed even earlier.
Former chief minister Oommen Chandy demanded that if the governor overstepped his limits, the chief minister should step in. When the state assembly has privileges, like the Rajya Sabha, the move by a BJP MP invoking privilege of Rajya Sabha against the chief minister, should be seen as a breach of the assembly's privilege too.
If the issue is dragged into litigation, it is likely to become a battle between two representative houses.
Governor tries to tighten measures on Palarivattom
Mewnwhile, the Governor appears to be tightening his grip on the corruption case around Palarivattom bridge construction, involving former minister and Muslim League leader VK Ebrahimkunju. He explained that decision on this will be taken after all aspects including filing a case against him are consiered.
The governor's statement comes in the wake of allegation that he was playing hide and seek without granting approval for charging the case. The Vigilance and Anti-corruption Bureau (VACB) had sought the governor's approval in September; then he sought legal opinion from Advocate General, in line with the requirement for the same under Sec 17(a) of the relevant law. But the governor sat on it for two months.
There were compalints about this long delay; then the governor's office started intervening actively. The governor summoned VACB officials to explain the evidence against Ibrahimkunju in a one-hour session and asked for a detailed report. It was after this that he asked Advocate General for legal opinion.