Govt committed to protecting constitutional values, says Guv Arif Mohammed Khan

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Budget Session of Kerala Assembly | PTI

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Monday said Legislative Assemblies represent the will of the people and the spirit of legislation and the intention of the Legislature has to be protected.

"My Government is committed to the constitutional value that the intention of the legislature should take effect as law," Khan said in his policy address in the state Legislative Assembly, marking the commencement of the budget session.

The Governor said this as the state government waits for his assent to a couple of bills which aim to remove him as Chancellor of Universities in the state.

In his address, Khan said that the Constitution has provided legislative space for the Union and the States and therefore, incursions into the legislative domain of the States "do not augur well for a cooperative federal setup".

"Checks and balances in the system have to be scrupulously observed for the healthy functioning of our democratic polity. Legislative Assemblies represent the will of the people.

"The spirit of legislation and the intention of the legislature has to be protected," the Governor said.

He further said his government was committed to protecting constitutional values "which are presently facing many challenges."

"Hegemonic tendencies in religious, linguistic and other arenas hamper building of a robust democracy, which respects diversity for strengthening its unity," Khan said.

Therefore, special efforts need to be made to defend democracy, secularism, plural values and federalism, the important foundations of our national unity and part of the basic structure of the Constitution, he said.

Khan, in the policy address, also said that a strong nation has to have a strong Centre, empowered States and actively functioning local governments.

He said that recent restrictions on borrowing capacities of the state are hampering their ability to intervene in the health, education and infrastructure sectors.

"For the body politic of the nation to be strong, it needs strong limbs. States have heavy responsibilities in the social sectors and their fiscal position has to be strong.

"Recent measures to curtail the borrowing limits of the States constrain the scope of their interventions in the health, education and infrastructural sectors," the Governor said.

Khan said while fiscal discipline has to be enforced in right earnest, "there cannot be different yardsticks for state governments, which are not made applicable to the Union Government".

Freedom of the press was a "cardinal" feature of a strong democracy and free and fair media activities have to be protected, is another issue he spoke about in the policy address.

Khan said there have been instances of freedom of press being curtailed in different ways in some parts of the country and his government was always committed to protect the independence of the media.

He also emphasised that there was a remote perception that agencies empowered to investigate matters regarding compliance to laws are acting in a manner which deviates from the professionalism expected from them.

The 33-day long budget session of the Kerala Assembly commenced with the Governor's policy address and is scheduled to conclude on March 30.

The debate on the motion of thanks for the Governor's speech is scheduled on January 25, February 1 and 2.

Finance Minister K N Balagopal will present the LDF government's budget for the next financial year on February 3.

The legislature will debate the budget for three days from February 6 to 8. PTI

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