The Governor of a State is a significant constitutional position established by Article 153 of the Constitution, with the possibility of the same individual being appointed for multiple states as per a constitutional amendment in 1956.
Appointed by the President of India, the Governor’s term typically spans five years, but they hold office at the pleasure of the President.
The Governor’s role in the State-Government relationship is vital, and they are expected to act as an apolitical head, following the advice of the council of ministers.
The Governor possesses various powers granted by the Constitution, including the authority to give assent to bills passed by the state legislature, decide the time given for a party to prove its majority, and handle situations of hung verdicts in elections.
The executive power of the State is vested in the Governor, and they can exercise this authority either directly or through subordinate officers as per the provisions of the Constitution.
Pardoning powers are also bestowed upon the Governor, allowing them to grant pardons, reprieves, respites, remissions, or suspend, remit, or commute sentences for individuals convicted of offenses under state law.
The Governor is aided and advised by a Council of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister, who is appointed by the Governor, along with other Ministers on the Chief Minister’s advice.
The Governor has the responsibility of appointing an Advocate-General for the State, who must qualify to be a High Court Judge.
All executive actions of the State Government are taken in the name of the Governor, and they also have the authority to summon the Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council at their discretion.
Throughout history, Governors have faced criticism, with some perceiving them as acting at the behest of the central government, leading to accusations of being “agents of the Centre.” Such instances have often strained relations between state governments and the Governors, particularly those in opposition to the ruling party at the center.
In 2016, the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh, Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa, advanced the assembly session without the Chief Minister’s consent, leading to political turmoil and the imposition of President’s Rule in the state. This incident raised concerns about the impartiality of Governors and their alleged political interference.
During periods of political instability, Governors in some states have been accused of delaying the floor test to ascertain the majority support of the government, giving rise to suspicions of their inclination towards the ruling party at the center.
In 2019, the Maharashtra Governor invited the single-largest party to form the government despite not having a clear majority, bypassing the claims of a post-poll alliance with a majority, which resulted in significant controversy.
Governors’ discretionary powers have sometimes been criticized for being exercised in a manner that aligns with the interests of the central government, leading to accusations of Governors acting as representatives of the ruling party at the national level.