BRS govt to move HC against Gov. over Budget

Update: 2023-01-29 18:40 GMT
Telangana High Court. (PTI File Image)

HYDERABAD: The Telangana government is planning to move an urgent plea before the High Court on Monday seeking a direction to Governor Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan to approve the state Budget in the Assembly and Legislative Council on February 3.

The Chandrashekar Rao-led BRS government is preparing to seek legal recourse out of concern that Dr Soundararajan may refuse permission for the Budget presentation, given that seven Bills passed by the Assembly and Council have been languishing at Raj Bhavan since September of last year.

Sources said Chief Secretary A. Santhi Kumari and finance secretary K. Ramakrishna Rao will meet the Governor to seek permission for the Budget presentation. The Telangana government is ready for a legal course if the Governor rejects it.

On January 21, the state government had sent a file to the Governor's office requesting permission to present the Budget. As of yet, the government has not received any response.

Instead, it is learnt that the Governor's secretary wrote back to the government asking whether arrangements had been made for the Governor’s customary address in the Assembly. If so, a copy of the Governor's speech was sought for verification. With only three days remaining for the Budget session, the government felt it was left with no option except to petition the court.

The government believes that the Governor's speech and the Budget presentation were unrelated matters, and that the Governor should first give the Budget presentation her approval given the urgency involved. According to state officials, there is no clause in the Constitution that requires the Governor to address the Assembly session, and therefore has no relevance to the presentation of the state Budget.

The BRS government will likely make its case in accordance with Article 202 of the Constitution, which mandates that a Governor must give permission for presenting before the House a statement of the estimated receipts and expenditure of the state for a financial year. This statement, named in the Constitution as the "Annual Financial Statement" is commonly referred to as "Budget".

The BRS government's mulling legal action against the Governor comes at a time when friction with the Governor has become worse, as evidenced by the Chief Minister and his Cabinet colleagues' avoiding Raj Bhavan during the past two years.

The High Court had recently directed the government to organise the Republic Day celebrations and hold a police parade at Raj Bhavan. Although the government made last-minute arrangements for the police parade, the CM and his ministers skipped the function at Raj Bhavan.

Since 2022, the government has been conducting the Assembly's Budget session without the Governor's address by proroguing the House. Instead, the government has been holding Assembly sessions as continuation of earlier sessions in order to avoid the Governor's address, which is a customary practice for any new session in a new calendar year.

This time too, the Telangana government has decided to commence the Budget session without the Governor's address. However, the government has to seek the Governor's approval to introduce the Budget in the House. Last year, the Governor gave her approval to present the Budget even after the government commenced the session without her address. However, the government fears the Governor may deny permission due to the ongoing confrontation this time.

Last year, the Governor had expressed displeasure over the government commencing the session without her customary address. In a press release, she had said, "I, however, respecting the constitutional convention and going beyond political considerations and keeping up with the spirit of cooperative federalism, have conveyed my recommendation for the introduction of the Financial Bill. I had the liberty to take my time to give my recommendation. But knowing well that people’s welfare is involved, and giving primacy to people’s welfare, I gave my recommendation without any time lag," she stated.

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