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Governor’s Role in India

Governor Role in India

  • Multiple State Governments have routinely expressed discontent over Governor Role in India interfering with day-to-day administration: for instance, the prolonged discord between current Vice-President and former West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and Mamata Banerjee’s ruling TMC.
  • Partisanship Behaviour: Governor Role in India started being called upon to exercise their discretion, thus inviting allegations of partisanship.
  • Politicisation of the office of the Governor: Repeated imposition of President’s Rule in States over a 100 times prior to 1994.

Constitutional Scheme of Governor

Article

Provisions

Article 153
  • There shall be a Governor for each State. One person can be appointed as Governor for two or more States.
  • He/she acts as a bridge between union and state governments.
Article 155
  • The Governor of a State shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his/her hand and seal.
Article 157 and Article 158
  • It specifies eligibility requirements for the post of governor.
  • Article 163: It talks about the discretionary power of governor.
Article 164
  • Governor appoints the Chief Minister after an election and the Council of Ministers on the advice of the CM.
Article 167
  • It empowers the Governor to ask the Chief Minister to furnish any information regarding the “administration of the affairs of the State and proposals for legislation”.
  • It also empowers the Governor to ask the Chief Minister to submit for consideration to the Council of Ministers, a decision that was taken without the Council’s consideration.
Article 174
  • Governor can also summon, prorogue, and dissolve the Legislative Assembly.
  • By convention, he/she has to do this on the advice of the Council of Ministers while they enjoy the confidence of the Assembly.
Article 200
  • Every Bill passed in an Assembly has to be sent to the Governor, after which he/she has four options:
    • to assent to the Bill,
    • withhold assent,
    • reserve the Bill for the consideration of the President,
    • return the Bill to the legislature, asking it to reconsider the Bill or an aspect of it.
    • The Governor can also suggest an amendment to the Bill.
Article 239
  • It states that each Union Territory will be administered by the President through an administrator appointed by him/her and given a designation he/she specifies.
  • Lieutenant Governor was introduced through an amendment in 1956.
  • The administrators in some UTs are designated as Lieutenant Governors, with a special provision (Article 239AA) for the National Capital Territory of Delhi, which was inserted in 1991.
  • Lt. Governor of Delhi also acts on the advice of the Council of Ministers except on the subjects of police, public order, and land.
  • The Lt. Governor can exercise his discretion when required by any law. In case of a difference of opinion with the Ministers, he would have to consult the President.
list of governors of india
list of governors of india

Governor Role in India: Changing

  • India Under British Administration
    • Since 1858, provincial Governors were agents of the Crown, functioning under the supervision of the Governor-General.
    • Government of India Act, 1935: Governor to act in accordance with the advice of Ministers of a province’s legislature, but retained special responsibilities and discretionary power.

 

Governor Role in India: Post-Independence

  • Constituent Assembly: Post of the Governors Role in India was extensively debated in Assembly, and was retained.
    • Governor was envisaged to be the Constitutional Head of a State under the parliamentary and cabinet systems of governance adopted by India.

 

Governor Role in India: Judiciary on the Governor

  • Shamsher Singh vs State of Punjab (1974): Supreme Court said that President and Governor shall “exercise their formal constitutional powers only upon and in accordance with the advice of their Ministers, except in a few exceptional situations.
    • 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/her own will.
  • R. Bommai case (1994): To check repeated imposition of president rule, Supreme Court ruled that imposition of President’s Rule shall be only in the event of a breakdown of constitutional machinery.
  • Supreme Court in the Nabam Rebia judgment (2016) ruled that the exercise of Governor’s discretion Article 163 is limited and his choice of action should not be arbitrary or fanciful.
    • It ruled that the floor of the Assembly should be the only forum that should test the majority of the government of the day, and not the subjective opinion of the Governor.
  • Supreme Court in the B. P. Singhal Case (2010) declared that a change in power at the Centre cannot be grounds to recall governor and hence such actions are judicially reviewable.

 

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