With the Cabinet on Wednesday deciding to recommend to the Governor to convene the seventh session of the Kerala Legislative Assembly, the ordinance that sought to strip the Governor of his chancellorship has lost its relevance.
The seventh session, the fourth this year, will be from December 5 to 15. An amendment to the Kerala Universities Act to remove the Governor from the Chancellor's post is expected to be tabled this session. The session will also be held in the backdrop of the controversy surrounding the alleged backdoor appointments of the CPM.
The decision to convene the Assembly session comes just four days after the draft ordinance reached the Governor, calling into question the very need to ask the Governor to promulgate an ordinance.
If the Assembly was about to be convened, why bother with promulgating an Ordinance, a practice that is inherently undemocratic as it bypasses the legislature.
An ordinance is usually promulgated when the Assembly is not in session and there is an urgency to bring a certain law into operation.
Governor Arif Mohammad Khan had right at the outset made it clear that he would not sit in judgment over an Ordinance that has the Governor's role as the focus. If the government fails to convince him of the necessity of the Ordinance, Khan had said that he would send it for the consideration of the President of India.
Even if the amendment that takes away the chancellorship from the Governor is passed during the seventh session, it still would require the Governor's assent to pass into law. A similar Bill passed by the West Bengal Assembly early in June has still not got the assent of the Governor.
In fact, Governor Arif Mohammad Khan has not yet given his assent to Kerala Lok Ayukta Amendment Bill and Kerala Universities (Amendment) Bill that were passed by the Assembly during the last August-September session. Both these bills had provisions that considerably weakened the powers of the Governor. The Lok Ayukta amendment had removed the Governor as the competent authority in the case of the Chief Minister. The Universities amendment had reduced the Chancellor's influence in the search-cum-selection committees formed to pick vice chancellors.
Top sources said there were also plans to continue the session after Christmas holidays in such a way that it spills over into January, 2023. The government is looking for ways to avoid the Governor's customary policy address before the start of the next Budget Session.