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Focus: GS-III Environment and Ecology, Prelims

Why in news?

A Constitution Bench judgment of the Supreme Court has held that a Governor is bound to convene a meeting of the Assembly for a floor test on the recommendation of the Cabinet.


  • The five-judge Constitution Bench judgment of the Supreme Court in Nabam Rebia versus Deputy Speaker held that a Governor cannot employ his ‘discretion’, and should strictly abide by the “aid and advice” of the Cabinet to summon the House.
  • The Governor can summon, prorogue and dissolve the House only on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister as the head, and not at his own.
  • It is an accepted principle that in a parliamentary democracy with a responsible form of government, the powers of the Governor as Constitutional or formal head of the State should not be enlarged at the cost of the real executive, viz. the Council of Ministers.
  • The Supreme Court highlighted how 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”.

Does the Governor have any discretionary powers at all?

The court said the Governor’s discretionary powers are limited to specified areas like giving assent or withholding/referring a Bill to the President or appointment of a Chief Minister or dismissal of a government which has lost of confidence but refuses to quit, etc.

Article 163

  • There shall be a council of Ministers with the chief Minister at the head to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions, except in so far as he is by or under this constitution required to exercise his functions or any of them in his discretion.
  • Advice tendered by Ministers to the Governor shall not be inquired into in any court.
  • The decision of the Governor in his discretion shall be final and cannot be questioned.

When can the Governor call for the trust vote?

  • The court clarified that the Governor’s requirement to have a trust vote does not “short-circuit” any disqualification proceedings pending before the Speaker.
  • It said a Governor need not wait for the Speaker’s decision on the resignation of rebel MLAs before calling for a trust vote in the House.
  • But Governors cannot misuse their wide powers to call for a floor test to displace elected governments for political reasons

Click Here to read more about the No-Confidence Motion

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023