Article 154 of the Constitution designates the Governor as the executive head of the state, making all executive actions in his name. Dr. B R Ambedkar referred to the Governor’s office as an “office of dignity,” and it holds a pivotal role in Indian Cooperative Federalism. Recent incidents have brought the post of Governor into controversy, highlighting tensions in the relationship between the constitutional head of state and elected government.

Reasons behind the confrontation.

  • Political appointees: Many current governors are retired politicians from a particular party, leading to loyalty towards their appointing authority. For instance, the Governor of West Bengal faced an appeal for removal due to perceived overactivity and interference.
  • Lack of answerability: While Chief Ministers are accountable to the people, Governors are answerable only to the Center, leading to instances of unchecked actions.
  • Impeachment absence: There is no provision for impeaching a Governor, limiting the state’s power vis-a-vis the Governor’s actions during their 5-year tenure, subject to the pleasure of the President.
  • Unrestricted veto power: Governors can withhold assent to a Bill for an indefinite period, causing uncertainty and disputes.
  • Controversial gubernatorial powers: The discretionary power of inviting the largest party/alliance after elections has been contentious, as seen in the Karnataka case in 2018, leading to a hung assembly and a government’s fall.
  • Discretionary appointment and dismissal of Chief Ministers: Governors have flouted conventions and inducted governments based on their discretion, as seen in Maharashtra’s case.
  • Misuse of Article 356: This article allows for President’s rule in a state based on the Governor’s report, and it has been controversially misused in the past, though it has been less frequent since the SR Bommai case judgment.
  • Reservation of Bills for President’s consideration: Article 200 allows Governors to reserve certain bills for the President’s consideration, which has been used to serve partisan interests.

Measures to clarify Governor’s role and powers:

  • Sarkaria Commission (1988): Governors should be eminent individuals not belonging to the state where they are posted, and the state Chief Minister should have a say in the appointment. Governors must remain detached figures without intense political links.
  • Rajamannar Committee: Mandatory consultation with the Chief Minister before the Governor’s appointment.
  • Punchhi Commission: Remove the phrase “during the pleasure of the President” from the Constitution, and Governors should only be removed by a resolution of the state legislature. Specify qualifications and provide security of tenure to enable impartial decisions.
  • Other recommendations: Governors should act in aid and advice of the Chief Minister, and their powers should not overpower or replace the state government. A panel comprising the PM, Home Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker, and Chief Minister should select Governors, and their tenure should be fixed for five years. Provision for impeachment by the Assembly could be considered.


The Governor’s role is crucial for the successful working of India’s constitutional democracy. Governors must maintain impartiality and avoid aligning with any political ideology. Codifying the Governor’s powers and discretion can reduce ambiguity and ensure the elected government’s primacy over unelected authority

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish July 8, 2024