Governor of India

Governor of India

Governor of India

  • The Governor’s appointment, his powers, and everything related to the office of the Governor of India have been discussed under Article 153 to Article 162 of the Indian Constitution.
  • The role of the Governor is quite similar to that of the President of India. The Governor performs the same duties as of President, but for the State. The governor stands as the executive head of a State and the working remains the same as of the office of the President of India. Under the Constitution of India, the governing machinery is the same as that of the Central Government.
  • It is stated that the Governor has a dual role.
    • He is the constitutional head of the state, bound by the advice of his council of ministers.
    • He functions as a vital link between the Union Government and the State Government.

Constitutional Provisions Related to Governor

  • The appointment and powers of government can be derived from Part VI of the Indian constitution. Article 153 says that there shall be a Governor for each State. One person can be appointed as Governor for two or more States.
  • The governor acts in ‘Dual Capacity’ as the Constitutional head of the state and as the representative.
  • He is the part of federal system of Indian polity and acts as a bridge between union and state governments.
  • Article 157 and Article 158 of the Constitution of India specify eligibility requirements for the post of governor. They are as follows:
  • A governor must:
    • Be a citizen of India.
    • Be at least 35 years of age.
    • Not be a member of the either House of the Parliament or the House of the State legislature.
    • Not hold any office of profit.

The term of governor’s office is normally 5 years but it can be terminated earlier by:

  • Dismissal by the president on the advice of the council of ministers headed by the prime minister of the country.
  • Dismissal of governors without a valid reason is not permitted. However, the President must dismiss a governor whose acts are upheld by courts as unconstitutional and malafide.
  • Resignation by the governor.

Historical Background

  • The Governors under the Government of India Act 1935 were “by the Raj, of the Raj, and for the Raj”. The constituent assembly wanted elected governors as proposed by a sub-committee of B.G. Kher, K.N. Katju, and P. Subbarayan.
  • The apprehension of the clash between the powers of the Governor and Chief minister led to the system of appointing the Governor in the state.
  • The draft constitution of 1948 was ambivalent – the drafting committee left it to the constituent assembly to decide whether governors should be elected or nominated.

Issues

  • There are numerous examples of the Governor’s position being abused, usually at the behest of the ruling party at the Centre. The process of appointment has generally been the cause behind it.
  • In several cases, politicians and former bureaucrats identifying with a particular political ideology have been appointed as the Governors by the Governments. This goes against the constitutionally mandated neutral seat and has resulted in bias, as appears to have happened in Karnataka and Goa.
  • Recently, the Governor of Rajasthan has been charged with the violation of the model code of conduct. His support of the ruling party is against the spirit of non-partisanship that is expected from the person sitting on constitutional posts.
  • Due to such incidents, negative terms like agent of the Centre, Puppet, and rubber stamps are used to describe a governor of the state.
  • The Governor’s discretionary powers to invite the leader of the largest party/alliance, post-election, to form the government has often been misused to favor a particular political party.
  • The Governors Committee (1971) laid down the responsibility on the governor to see that the administration of the State does not break down due to political instability and he must send a regular report about the political situation of the State.
  • However, the imposition of the President’s rule (Article 356) in case of breakdown of constitutional machinery in a State has been frequently misused by the central government.
  • Governor’s work is bound by the aid and advice of his council of ministers, this has brought down the significance of the office to a mere rubber stamp.
  • This is reflected in TB. Pattabhi Sitaramayya (a former Governor of Madhya Pradesh) observed that he had no public function to perform except making the fortnightly report to the President.
  • The arbitrary removal of the Governor before the expiration of his tenure has also been an important issue in the recent past.
  • The Governor cannot be removed because he is out of sync with the policies and ideologies of the Union government or the party in power at the Centre. Nor can he be removed on the ground that the Union government has lost confidence in him.

Recommendations

S.R. Bommai Judgement

  • In S.R. Bommai’s case (1994), following the Sarkaria Commission’s recommendations, the Supreme Court underlined that the breakdown of constitutional machinery implied a virtual impossibility, and not a mere difficulty, in carrying out governance in a State.
  • SC said that while the subjective satisfaction of the President regarding such a breakdown was beyond judicial scrutiny, the material on which such satisfaction was based could certainly be analyzed by the judiciary, including the Governor’s report.
  • The Court reinstated the governments in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand which were suspended after the arbitrary imposition of the President’s Rule.
  • The Supreme Court classified the instances of failure of constitutional machinery into four heads:
    • Political crises.
    • Internal subversion.
    • Physical breakdown.
    • Non-compliance with constitutional directions of the Union Executive.

      Other Cases and Recommendations

      • The Supreme Court in the Nabam Rebia judgment (2016) ruled that the exercise of the Governor’s discretion Article 163 is limited and his choice of action should not be arbitrary or fanciful. It must be a choice dictated by reason, actuated by good faith, and tempered by caution.
      • The Administrative Reforms Commission (1968) recommended that the report of the governor regarding the president’s rule has to be objective and also the governor should exercise his own judgment in this regard.
      • The Rajamannar Committee (1971) recommended the deletion of Articles 356 and 357 from the constitution of India. The necessary provisions for safeguards against arbitrary action of the ruling party at the Centre under Article 356 should be incorporated into the constitution.
      • The Rajamannar Committee emphasized that the governor of the state should not consider himself an agent of the center but play his role as the constitutional head of the State.
      • The Sarkaria Commission (1988) recommended that Article 356 should be used in very rare cases when it becomes unavoidable to restore the breakdown of constitutional machinery in the State.
      • The commission recommended that before taking action under Article 356, a warning should be issued to the state government that it is not functioning according to the constitution.
      • “Justice V.Chelliah Commission” (2002) recommended that Article 356 must be used sparingly and only as a remedy of the last resort after exhausting all actions under Articles 256, 257 and 355.
      • The “Punchhi Commission” recommended that Articles 355 & 356 be amended. It sought to protect the interests of the States by trying to curb their misuse by the Centre.

      Constitutional provisions

      • Article 163: It talks about the discretionary power of the Governor.
      • Article 256: The executive power of the Union shall extend to the giving of such directions to a State as may appear to the Government of India to be necessary for that purpose.
      • Article 257: The executive power of the Union shall also extend to the giving of directions to a State as to the construction and maintenance of means of communication declared in the direction to be of national or military importance:
      • Article 355: It entrusts the duty upon the Union to protect the states against “external aggression” and “internal disturbance” to ensure that the government of every State is carried on by the provisions of the Constitution.
      • Article 356: If a state government is unable to function according to constitutional provisions, the Central government can take direct control of the state machinery. The state’s governor issues the proclamation, after obtaining the consent of the President of India.
      • Article 357: It deals with the Exercise of legislative powers under the Proclamation issued under Article 356 by the central government

      Related Links:

      S.R. Bommai vs Union of India Government of India Act 1858
      Parts of Indian ConstitutionMost Important Supreme Court Judgements
      × LAUNCHPAD IAS