Context:

The sudden exit of Tirath Singh Rawat as Chief Minister of Uttarakhand because he was not elected as a legislator within six months, has led to thickening speculation about the fate of West Bengal’s CM Mamata Banerjee who is another unelected Chief Minister.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Constitutional Provisions, Union and State Executive)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Understanding the position of the Chief Minister
  2. What was the problem in getting elected within 6 months for the Uttarakhand CM?
  3. Constitution assumes CM as a legislator

Understanding the position of the Chief Minister

  • The position of the Chief Minister at the state level is analogous to the position of the Prime Minister at the Centre and the governor is the nominal executive authority (de jure executive) and the Chief Minister is the real executive authority (de facto executive).
  • Article 163 of the Constitution says that there shall be a Council of Ministers in the states with the Chief Minister at the head to aid and advise the Governor in exercise his functions, except those which are required to be done by the Governor on his/her discretion.
  • The council of Ministers formulates the policy of the Government and implements it practically.

Regarding Appointment of the Chief Minister

  • Article 164 only says that the Chief Minister shall be appointed by the governor. However, the Constitution does not contain any specific procedure for the selection and appointment of the Chief Minister and Article 164 does NOT imply that the governor is free to appoint anyone as the Chief Minister.
  • A Minister who for any period of six consecutive months is not a member of the Legislature of the State, at the expiration of that period ceases to be a Minister. (Article 164)
  • A person who is not a member of the state legislature can be appointed as Chief Minister for six months, within which time, he should be elected to the state legislature, failing which he ceases to be the Chief Minister.

What was the problem in getting elected within 6 months for the Uttarakhand CM?

The Representation of the People Act, 1951, mandates that a byelection for any vacancy should be held within six months of that vacancy arising, provided the remainder of the term is not less than one year or the EC and the Centre do not certify that holding the bypoll in that time frame is difficult.

Constitution assumes CM as a legislator

  • We have a parliamentary democracy, which essentially means that whoever has the confidence of the majority of the members of the Lok Sabha, in the case of the Centre, will be the Prime Minister.
  • Article 164 (2): The Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Legislative Assembly of the State.
  • It also requires that all Ministers should be a Member of Parliament (MP) or get elected within six months. Anybody who is a Minister and is not an MP for six months automatically stands to be disqualified from the administration.
  • Article 164 (4): A Minister who for any period of six consecutive months is not a member of the Legislature of the State shall at the expiration of that period cease to be a Minister.
  • Hence, the Constitution visualises the Chief Minister as being elected by the members of the House of their own free will and it assumes that the Chief Minister is a member. However, there is a party high command, especially in the case of national parties, which decides who will become the Chief Minister.

-Source: The Hindu

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