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Is Governor Bound To Follow The Directions of State Government?

Relevance: GS paper 2, Governor

  • Article 154 of the Constitution says “the executive power of the State shall be vested in the Governor and shall be exercised by him either directly or through officers subordinate to him in accordance with this Constitution”.
  • Article 163 states that the Governor shall exercise his functions with the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers except for functions which require his discretion.
  • The 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976, had made ministerial advice binding on the President but no such provision has been made for the Governor.
  • The Supreme Court of India has defined limits of the discretionary powers in several landmark judgements.
  • In the 2016 Nabam Rebia judgement, a five-judge Bench led by then Chief Justice of India, J. S. Khehar, said that Article 163 of the Constitution does not give the Governor a “general discretionary power to act against or without the advice of his council of ministers”.

Read Also: The TN Governor Issue

Are Non-BJP-Ruled States On A Collision Course With The Governor’s Office?

  • In most non-BJP States, the elected governments and the Governor’s office have been on a constant collision course.
  • Examples include:
  • Governor Arif Mohammad Khan in Kerala asking 11 Vice-Chancellors to resign, which was met with resistance from the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left Democratic Front government.
  • Governor Tamilisai Soundarajan and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao in Telangana engaging in public sparring.
  • Governor B. S. Koshiyari and the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra clashing over the choice of the Assembly Speaker.

What Is The Way Out?

  • Several experts panels have been set up to suggest improvements to Centre-State relations.
  • Most of these reports have advocated for appointing non-political Governors through independent mechanisms after consultations with the concerned Chief Ministers.
  • The Sarkaria Commission had pointed out that the role of the Governor “is to see that a government is formed and not to try to form a government”.
  • However, the recommendations of these reports have not been taken up by any government so far.

Read Also: Raj Bhavan’s Extra-Constitutional Delusions

Sarkaria Commission Recommendations on Appointment of Governor

  • Should be an eminent person;
  • Must be a person from outside the State;
  • Not have participated in active politics at least for some time before his appointment;
  • He should be a detached person and not too intimately connected with the local politics of the State;
  • He should be appointed in consultation with the Chief Minister of the State, Vice-President of India and the Speaker of the Lok Sabha;
  • His tenure of office must be guaranteed and should not be disturbed except for extremely compelling reasons and if any action is to be taken against him he must be given a reasonable opportunity for showing cause against the grounds on which he is sought to be removed. In case of such termination or resignation of the Governor, the Government should lay before both the Houses of Parliament a statement explaining the circumstances leading to such removal or resignation, as the case may be;
  • After demitting his office, the person appointed as Governor should not be eligible for any other appointment or office of profit under the Union or a State Government except for a second term as Governor or election as Vice-President or President of India, as the case may be; and
  • At the end of his tenure, reasonable post-retirement benefits should be provided.

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April 2024