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Functions and Powers of Governor |

Functions and Powers of Governor

In Context

∙ Amid tussle with Tamil Nadu Govt, the Governor of the State omitted certain parts of govt-approved speech, citing disagreement on ‘moral and factual grounds’.

Office of Governor

∙ Under Article 153 there shall be a Governor for each State. 

∙ Eligibility: Only Indian citizens above 35 years of age are eligible for appointment to this office. 

∙ Appointment: The Governor of a State is appointed by the President for a term of five years.

∙ Conditions of Governor’s office: The Governor shall not be a member of either House of Parliament or of a House of the Legislature.

∙ The Governor shall not hold any other office of profit.

Functions and Powers of Governor

∙ Executive Powers: The Governor is the head of the state executive and exercises executive powers vested in them by the Constitution or by law.

∙ Appoints the Chief Minister and other members of the Council of Ministers.

∙ The Governor is responsible for the appointment and removal of various state officials.

∙ Legislative Powers: The Governor summons and prorogues sessions of the state legislature (Vidhan Sabha).

∙ He addresses the state legislature at the beginning of each legislative year and on other occasions.

∙ The Governor may also dissolve the state legislative assembly in certain situations.

∙ Administrative Powers: The Governor has control over the state administration, including the power to issue ordinances when the state legislature is not in session.

∙ Judicial Powers: The Governor appoints the Advocate General of the state.

∙ He has the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites, or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit, or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offense against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the state extends.

∙ Discretionary Powers: The Governor has certain discretionary powers, including the power to reserve certain bills passed by the state legislature for the consideration of the President.

∙ He can use discretion in various situations, such as recommending the President’s rule in the state under certain circumstances.

∙ Upholding Constitution: The Governor acts as a guardian of the Constitution and ensures that the state government functions within the constitutional framework.

∙ He is expected to act impartially and without bias, serving as a check on the state government’s actions.

Debate on the Role and Power of Governor

∙ Federal Structure vs. Unitary Tendencies: Governor acts as a vital link between the Union government and the states, ensuring uniformity and stability in governance across the nation.

∙ Critics raise concerns that the office of the Governor can sometimes tilt the balance towards a more unitary form of government, eroding the autonomy of states and centralizing power in the hands of the Union government.

∙ Discretionary Powers: The discretionary powers vested in the Governor, such as the power to recommend President’s rule, dissolve state assemblies, or reserve bills for the President’s consideration, have been contentious.

∙ While some argue that these powers are necessary to maintain constitutional balance and ensure proper governance in exceptional circumstances, others contend that they can be misused for political ends, undermining democratic principles.

∙ Conflict with State Governments: The relationship between Governors and state governments, particularly those led by opposition parties, often leads to conflicts and controversies.

∙ Role in Upholding Constitutional Values: Proponents argue that the Governor serves as a guardian of the Constitution, ensuring that state governments adhere to constitutional principles and norms.

∙ However, critics question whether Governors always uphold constitutional values or if their actions are influenced by political considerations.

∙ Need for Reforms: Many experts advocate for reforms in the appointment process and powers of Governors to enhance their impartiality and effectiveness.

∙ Suggestions include making the appointment process more transparent and bipartisan, limiting discretionary powers, and strengthening mechanisms for accountability.

How has the Supreme Court Interpreted the Role of the Governor?

∙ SR Bommai Case (1994): This landmark case established principles regarding the discretionary powers of the Governor in dismissing a state government and imposing President’s rule.

∙ The Supreme Court held that the Governor’s decision to recommend the President’s rule should be based on objective material and that it could be subject to judicial review.

∙ The court emphasized that the Governor should not act arbitrarily or on the basis of extraneous considerations.

∙ Political Crisis in Arunachal Pradesh 2016: In late 2015, multiple Congress MLAs rebelled against the Chief Minister and then Governor acted without the advice of Chief Minister.

∙ The SC held that 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 will.

∙ The Governor should act impartially and within the bounds of the Constitution, and should not interfere in the internal affairs of the state legislature.

∙ Karnataka Coalition Case (2019): In a case arising from the political crisis in Karnataka, the Supreme Court emphasized the Governor’s obligation to act fairly and transparently in the exercise of discretion.

∙ Shiv Sena vs. Union of India (2019): This case arose from the political turmoil in Maharashtra following the assembly elections.

∙ The Supreme Court emphasized the Governor’s duty to follow constitutional norms and uphold democratic principles, especially in situations where there is a possibility of government formation by political parties.

Way Ahead

∙ In essence, the debate over the power of Governors in India reflects broader discussions about the nature of federalism, the distribution of powers between the center and the states, and the role of constitutional institutions in safeguarding democratic principles.

∙ The Supreme Court has clarified and reaffirmed the role of the Governor as outlined in the Constitution, emphasizing the importance of impartiality, adherence to constitutional principles, and avoidance of arbitrary exercise of power.

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