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Focus: GS-II Governance, Polity


The Rajasthan Governor repeatedly turned down the advice of the Council of Ministers to convene a session of the Rajasthan Assembly.

What are the related powers of a Governor?

  • The Supreme Court reiterated that “the functions, duties and powers of the Governor by or under the Constitution are ‘cabined, cribbed, confined’.” The Bench explored the Governor’s powers vis-à-vis the executive and the legislature.
  • It’s in his power to prorogue the state legislature and dissolve the state legislative assemblies
  • He addresses the state legislature at the first session of every year
  • If any bill is pending in the state legislature, Governor may/may not send a bill to the state legislature concerning the same
  • If the speaker of the legislative assembly is absent and same is Deputy Speaker, then Governor appoints a person to preside over the session.

Who summons an Assembly session?

  • The Supreme Court held that the Governor’s power under Article 174 to summon, prorogue and dissolve the house(s) must be exercised in consonance with the aid and advice of the chief minister and his council of ministers.
  • In the above situation, the governor is precluded from taking an individual call on the issue at his/her own will, or in his/her own discretion.
  • The discretion given to the Governor in respect of his relations with the Legislative Assembly is not only limited and circumscribed by the Constitution but also by the Rules framed by the Legislative Assembly under Article 208 of the Constitution.

Can the Governor direct the agenda or procedure of the legislature?

The proceedings of the legislature are guided by rules made by it, and the Governor cannot have any say in it.

When can the Governor act without the advice of the Council of Ministers?

In some States, the Governor has special powers to advance tribal welfare – it becomes his responsibility to appoint Tribal Welfare Minister in the states of Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha.

With respect to the bill introduced in the state legislature, he can:

  1. Give his assent
  2. Withhold his assent
  3. Return the bill
  4. Reserve the bill for the President’s consideration (In instances where the bill introduced in the state legislature endangers the position of state High Court.)

If the Chief Minister and his Council of Ministers lose their majority, or they refuse to recommend a session in six months, or there is a reasonable doubt about their majority, the Governor could demand a session.

  • The Governor invites a person who he thinks has the legislative majority to form a government, but the use of this power cannot be arbitrary.
  • If there is a Council of Ministers with a majority, the Governor has to go by its recommendation to dissolve the legislature.
  • In the event of a Chief Minister and his Council of Ministers losing the majority, the Governor can use his or her discretion to either explore the formation of a new government or dissolve the House.

Is the Governor bound by people’s representatives?

  • The Constituent Assembly very consciously limited the Governor’s discretionary powers.
  • The misuse of the Governor’s office by parties in power at the Centre to disturb State governments in control of the Opposition has remained a scourge.
  • A 2016 Supreme Court judgment that a Governor “cannot have an overriding authority, over the representatives of the people, who constitute the state legislature and/or even the executive government functioning under the council of ministers with the Chief Minister as the head”.

-Source: The Hindu

November 2023