Governor's office and related disputes Gubernatorial Restructuring

Reference

Addressing a conference in the past, President Ram Nath Kovind had said that "the governor acts as the protector and guide of the state and plays an important role in the federal structure of the country." However, the action taken by the Governor of Maharashtra in the last few days has brought the post of Governor under scrutiny in the country. In Maharashtra, the Raj Bhavan (Governor's residence) remained the center of controversy throughout the series of oath taking by the Chief Minister and his resignation before proving his majority. Significantly, the action taken by the Karnataka Governor soon after the Karnataka Assembly elections earlier this year was also brought under judicial scrutiny on aspects of discretionary powers. In such a situation, it becomes necessary to consider the office of the Governor and its relevance within the country.

governor in india

  • Just as the head of the nation at the center is the President, similarly the head of the state in the states is the governor.
  • It is noteworthy that the Governor is the formal head of the state and all the proceedings of the state are done in his name.
  • The Governor of each state is appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Union Cabinet of the country and acts on the advice of the Chief Minister of the State.
  • Normally the term of the Governor is 5 years, but he can retire before this period by resigning to the President.
  • Significantly, the office of the governor has been one of the most controversial for the last five decades. The dispute started with the dismissal of the Kerala government by the then Governor of Kerala in 1959 due to political differences between the state and the central government.
    • The dispute took its worst form in 1967 with the emergence of several non-Congress governments in the northern states.

related constitutional provisions

  • Part VI of the Indian Constitution deals with the states which are an important part of the federal structure of the country. Articles 152 to 237 of the Constitution mention various provisions relating to the states.
  • According to Article 153, every state in the country shall have a governor. Also a person can be appointed as the governor of two or more states.
    • According to Article 155, the Governor is appointed by the President.
  • According to the constitution, the governor acts as the constitutional head and representative of the state. It is part of the federal system of Indian politics and acts as a bridge between the union and state governments.
  • Article 157 and Article 158 of the Constitution lay down the essential eligibility for the post of Governor, which are as follows:
    • He should be an Indian citizen.
    • He must be at least 35 years of age.
    • He should neither be a member of either House of the Parliament nor of the State Legislature.
    • He should not hold any office of profit.
  • It is to be noted that Article 163 of the Constitution gives discretionary power to the Governor, that is, he is not bound to follow the advice of the Council of Ministers in his discretionary work. The Governor enjoys the following discretionary powers:
    • If no party gets an absolute majority, the Governor can use his discretion in selecting the Chief Minister.
    • How much time should be given to a party to prove its majority also depends on the discretion of the Governor.
    • During emergency, he is not bound to follow the advice of the Council of Ministers. At such times he acts as the representative of the President and becomes the de facto ruler of the state.

appointment of governer

  • It may be noted that the Governor is neither directly elected by the common people nor elected by a specially constituted electoral college.
  • In contrast, the Governor of the states is directly appointed by the President, due to which he is also called the representative of the Central Government.
  • At the time of constitution making, the Drafting Committee had left the decision to the Constituent Assembly whether elections should be held for the Governors in the country or they should be evaluated.
  • On this subject, the Constituent Assembly believed that elections should be held for the selection of governors, but the fear of conflict between the powers of the governor and the chief minister gave rise to the system of nomination of the governor in the state.

role of governor

  • The governor of each state plays an important role in the operation of the democratically elected government there. It is noteworthy that the role of the Governor has been described in Articles 153 to 162 of the Indian Constitution.
  • The role of the Governor of a state is more or less similar to that of the President of the country. The Governor generally performs the role of the President for the states.
  • The functions of the Governor are mainly divided into 4 parts (1) Executive (2) Legislative (3) Financial (4) Judicial.

executive

  • Being the constitutional head of the state, the governor has to perform many important functions, including appointing the leader of the majority party as the chief minister of the state and assisting the chief minister in the formation of the state cabinet. Along with this, the work of appointing the Advocate General of the State and the Chairman and members of the State Public Commission is also done by the Governor.

legislative

  • The Governor has the power to call the meeting of the State Legislative Assembly in case of any emergency and to adjourn it at any time. Along with this, he also has the right to call joint sitting of both the houses. He has the power to cancel any bill that is passed in the state assembly, send it back for review and send it to the President. This means that no bill can be passed in the state assembly without the permission of the governor. It is also the responsibility of the Governor to issue any kind of ordinance during an emergency in the state.

financial

  • The function of the governor is also to ensure that the annual financial statement (state-budget) is placed before the state legislature. Also, any money bill can be introduced in the assembly only after its approval. The Governor also constitutes a State Finance Commission to review the financial position of Panchayats and Municipalities after every five years.

judicial

  • The judicial functions of the Governor include taking decisions regarding appointment, transfer and promotion of District Judges in consultation with the High Court of the State. He also appoints people associated with the State Judicial Commission.

Important Decisions That Shaped the Discretionary Powers of the Governor

  • SR Bommai vs Government of India
    • There are many such decisions of the Supreme Court, which have had a direct impact on society and politics. One of these is the historic judgment given on March 11, 1994, which curtails the power of the central government to dissolve governments in the states.
    • Significantly, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, S.R. Bommai's government was dismissed by the then Governor after he was implicated in the phone tapping case, after which the matter reached the Supreme Court.
    • This decision of the Supreme Court put an end to the widespread misuse of Article 356 by the Central Government.
    • In this decision, the court had said that "the decision of the majority of any state government should be in the legislature instead of the Raj Bhavan. Before imposing President's rule, the state government will have to give a floor test.
  • Rameshwar Prasad Vs. Government of India
    • In this judgment given in the year 2006, a five-member bench had made it clear that if no party gets a clear majority in the assembly elections and some parties together stake claim to form the government, then there is no problem in it, even if they do not vote before the election. There may or may not be an alliance between the parties.
  • Nabam Rebia vs Vice President
    • In the year 2016, the Supreme Court had ruled that Article 163 related to the exercise of discretion of the Governor is limited and the action taken by him should not be arbitrary or imaginary. The Governor should have reason for his action and it should be done in good faith.

Recommendations given by various commissions and committees

  • In the year 1966, the first Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) was constituted by the Central Government under the chairmanship of Morarji Desai, the commission recommended in its report that a person who belongs to a particular party should be appointed to the post of Governor. Don't be connected
  • In the year 1970, the Rajamannar Committee was constituted by the Government of Tamil Nadu to consider Central and State relations. Significantly, this committee had recommended the deletion of Articles 356 and 357 from the Indian Constitution. According to Article 356 of the Constitution, if the State Government is unable to function under the constitutional provisions, the Center can exercise direct control over the State. According to the Constitution, it is announced by the Governor after obtaining the assent from the President. At the same time, the committee had also recommended that the states should also be included in the appointment process of the governor.
  • The Sarkaria Commission, set up in 1980, submitted its final 1600-page report to the government in 1988, which made 247 point-wise recommendations on Centre-State relations. The recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission regarding Centre-State relations, Part-I and Chapter-IV, make it clear that the office of the Governor is an independent constitutional post, the Governor is neither subordinate to the Central Government nor his office. It is a central government office.

Importance of the office of governor

  • Many experts believe that the post of Governor is an important link between the Center and the states, which helps in running the federal structure of the country in an orderly manner.
  • Significantly, its important role in the smooth functioning of democracy cannot be denied.
  • Since our country is divided into states, many experts advocate central supervision for the national interest, integrity and internal security of the country, which requires a governor.

Governor's post controversy

  • There have been many instances of misuse of the office of the Governor in the country, it is generally believed that since the Governor is appointed by the Central Government, he acts on the directions of the Center in the State and if the same is done in the Center and the State. If there is no party government, then a lot of problems can arise in the functioning of the state.
  • In many cases, well-known politicians and former bureaucrats with a particular political ideology have been appointed as governors by the government. Significantly, as a result of this many times the governors have also been seen to be biased.
  • In the same year, the Governor of Rajasthan was accused of violating the model code of conduct. Providing support to the ruling party is not expected from a person holding any constitutional post, but still such incidents do come to the fore from time to time.
  • The discretionary powers of the governor have often been misused in favor of a particular political party to invite the single largest party or coalition to form the government after the elections in the state.
  • Removal of the Governor from office before the end of his term has also been an important issue in recent times.
    • The Governor cannot be removed on the ground that he is not in sync with the policies and ideologies of the party in power at the Centre.

way ahead

  • There is no doubt that there is a need for major reforms in the provisions relating to the appointment and tenure of Governors.
  • The recommendations of the Rajamannar Committee constituted in the year 1970 should be implemented and the states should also be included in the process of appointment of governors. It is noteworthy that such reforms can be initiated to address the imbalance in the Centre-State equations.
  • Decisions taken by governors should be brought under judicial scrutiny, including the sources used to reach that decision.
  • The powers and privileges attached to the office of the Governor must be coupled with accountability and transparency.
  • An 'agreed code of conduct' approved by the State Governments, Central Government, Parliament and State Legislatures should be developed to enable the Governor to discharge his duties successfully.
  • The discretionary powers of the Governor should be curtailed and there should be proper guidelines regarding the appointment of the Chief Minister.

Conclusion

The issue of Governor's post has once again come in the center of debate amidst allegations and support for no party getting majority in the Maharashtra Assembly elections and forming the government. It can be said that the office of the Governor is useless and there is a financial burden on the State Governments, but we should not ignore the important role played by the Governor. It acts as a bridge between the Central Government and the State Government. He helps in the formation of the state government and also monitors the legitimacy of the bills that are passed in the state assembly. Therefore, the need of a Governor in the healthy functioning of a democracy should not be overlooked. However, it is also true that due to political interference, questions have been raised about this post in the recent past. These controversies and challenges related to the post of Governor should be addressed and efforts should be made to improve it by talking to all the stakeholders.

Question: The framers of the constitution believed that the post of governor would play a coordinating role between the center and the state, but it does not seem to be happening at the present time. Discussing the discretionary powers of the Governor, critically evaluate the controversies regarding his office.