President withholds three bills on varsity reforms from Kerala

The three Bills' denial of presidential assent strikes a serious blow to the state's LDF government
President withholds three bills on varsity reforms from Kerala

The President of India has denied assent to three bills that the state governor, Arif Mohammed Khan, had brought to Rashtrapati Bhavan for review. This decision is a serious setback for the Kerala LDF government.

On Thursday, Kerala Raj Bhavan stated on the social networking site X (previously Twitter) that Governor Khan has forwarded seven bills to the President for review, with Rashtrapati Bhavan only endorsing the Lok Ayukta (Amendment) Bill.

The state government's plan to remove the Governor from the state's university system has suffered a serious setback due to the President's decision. The CPI-M's student branch, the Students Federation of India (SFI), was furiously attacking Governor Khan, charging that he was trying to fill university syndicates with Sangh Parivar appointees.

The Bill to Amend the Kerala Lokayukta was already approved by the President. The Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, which aims to give the executive appellate authority over the recommendations and findings of the anti-corruption body, was passed by the Kerala Assembly on August 30, 2022.

Governor Khan had set aside seven bills for presidential assent in November of last year, including the contentious University Amendment Bills and the Kerala Lok Ayukta Bill.

The controversial Kerala Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill receiving the president's assent is a significant political win for the state's LDF Government, which is run by the CPI-M. However, the significance of that political win has been lessened by the rejection of the three University amendment bills.

According to the Lokayukta amendment, the Assembly, not the Governor, would have the right to make a decision if the Lokayukta rules against the chief minister in a corruption case. The Speaker would be the appellate authority for Assembly members, and the Chief Minister would be the authority for ministers.

The Lokayukta Bill's ratification by the President, according to the Congress-led UDF Opposition, shows a fraternal relationship between the state and federal administrations as well as a compromise between the CPI-M and the Sangh Parivar. The president's acceptance of the bill, according to state assembly leader of opposition V D Satheesan, has completely thrown the state's anti-corruption mechanism into disarray.