Article 154 of the Constitution designates the Governor as the executive head of the state, acting in his name. Dr. B R Ambedkar hailed the Governor’s office as one of dignity and an independent constitutional entity, vital for Indian Cooperative Federalism. Recent incidents have brought the Governor’s role into the spotlight, revealing tensions between the constitutional head of state and elected government.

Reasons behind Confrontation:

Political Appointees:

  • Modern Governors often have political backgrounds, potentially leading to loyalty towards appointing authorities.
  • Example: In West Bengal, the Chief Minister sought the Governor’s removal due to perceived interference.

Answerability Disparity:

  • Governors are accountable only to the Centre, unlike Chief Ministers who are answerable to the electorate.
  • This can lead to arbitrary decisions by Governors.
  • Example: Governors sometimes make decisions without broader consultation or oversight.

Impeachment Absence:

  • Governors are appointed by the President based on the Centre’s recommendation.
  • They have a 5-year tenure but remain in office at the President’s pleasure, reducing state autonomy.
  • Example: Limited power of states in their dealings with Governors.

Unlimited Veto Power:

  •  Governors can withhold assent to bills indefinitely, affecting the legislative process.

Gubernatorial Powers and Instability:

  • Governors’ discretionary powers, such as inviting post-election alliances, can lead to controversies.
  • Example: Karnataka’s 2018 hung assembly situation, resolved by the Supreme Court.

Chief Minister Appointment and Dismissal:

  • Governors can disregard conventions and invite parties not having the majority to form government.
  • Example: Maharashtra’s instance of the Governor’s predawn government induction.

Misuse of Article 356:

  • Article 356 misuse leads to President’s rule; its proper use is necessary.
  • The Supreme Court’s Bommai case judgment curtailed its arbitrary application.

Reservation of Bills for Presidential Consideration:

  • Governors can reserve state bills for the President’s consideration, sometimes for partisan reasons.
  • Example: Delay in Tamil Nadu’s medical courses bill’s approval.

Measures for Clarity in Governor’s Role:

Sarkaria Commission (1988):

  • Governor selection should prioritize eminent individuals with no ties to the state.
  • State Chief Minister’s input in Governor selection.
  • Governors should be politically neutral.

Rajamannar Committee:

  • Mandatory consultation with the Chief Minister before appointing Governors.

Punchhi Commission:

  • Remove “during the pleasure of the President” clause.
  • Governors can only be removed via a state legislature resolution.
  • Clearly defined qualifications for Governor’s position, ensuring impartiality.

Other Recommendations:

  • Governors should adhere to Chief Minister’s advice unless constitutionally specified.
  • Governors shouldn’t overpower state governments.
  • Governor selection via a panel including PM, Home Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker, and CM.
  • Fixed tenure of five years for Governors.
  • Provision for Governor’s impeachment by the Assembly.

The Governor plays a pivotal role in India’s constitutional democracy. Political neutrality of Governors is vital to avoid undue alignment with any ideology. Codifying Governor’s powers will enhance clarity and prevent unelected influence over elected governments.

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish June 18, 2024