Updated on 21 April, 2019
Role of Governor in Governance
- Governor invited BJP to form government in state despite opposition alliance having greater support. SC has to intervene and cut short the duration given to prove majority to 2 days.
Why the abuse of power?
- Under this constitutional scheme, the Governor’s mandate is substantial. From being tasked with overseeing government formation, to reporting on the breakdown of constitutional machinery in a State, to maintaining the chain of command between the Centre and also the State, he can also reserve his assent to Bills passed by the State Legislature and also the promulgate ordinances if the need arises.
- Furthermore, under the Article 355, the Governor, being the Central authority in a State, acts as an overseer in this regard.
- Undoubtedly, the most crucial issue relates to the exercise of gubernatorial (relating to or connected with the post of governor) discretion. Moreover, the Governor has all the task of inviting the leader of the largest party/alliance, post-election, to form the government and also overseeing the dismissal of the government in case of the breakdown of the Constitution in this State; and, through his report, recommending the imposition of rules of presidents.
- Moreover, in India, the balance in power is tilted towards the Union. However, the importance of the position of governance arises not from the exceptional circumstances that necessitate the use of his discretions, but as a crucial link within this federal structure in maintaining effective communication between the Centre and also the State.
- Often, as a figurehead who ensures the continuance of governance in the State, even in the times of constitutional crises, his role is often that of a neutral arbiter in the disputes settled informally within the various strata of government, and also as the conscience keeper of the community
Governor is the most debated and abused post of Indian constitution mainly because on one hand he act as head of state on the other as an agent of centre at state level so there is a continuous demand to reform it.
- There are many examples of the Governor’s position being abused, usually at the behest of the ruling party at the Centre.
- In fact, the root lies in the process of appointment itself. The post has been reduced to becoming a retirement package for politicians for being politically faithful to the today’s government.
- Moreover, the candidate who wedded to the political ideology could find it difficult to adjust to the requirements of a constitutionally mandated neutral seat. Moreover, this can be result in bias, as appears to have happened in the Karnataka.
- In past, centre has used it to bring President rule (A-356) and abolish state governments for political reasons using governors
- With the change of government at centre there is major reshuffling of Governors which dilutes the authority of that post.
- Hence it is needed to make Governors post more stable both at entry and exit levels;
- At entry level there is a need to consult respective CM's while appointing Governor as mentioned in Sarakaria and Punchhi commissions.
- At exit levels it is need to bring impeachment procedure which needs ratification of both center and respective state to bring some authority to governors.
Various committees over time have also given some recommendations on the issue:
- Though many cases like B. P. Singhal (2010) has empowered the post of governor but before defining law for post of Governor we need to define the post of governor, its need and its authority which will give us clarity while making any law with regard to this post.
What are SC's view on Governor’s powers? (Arunachal Pradesh President Rule judgement)
- Sarkaria Commission: Governors should not be removed before completion of five year term. The governors should get an opportunity to explain their conduct in a particular situation, which has made them liable for removal.
- Venkatchalliah Commission: Governors to have security of tenure. CM should also be consulted before removal.
- Punchhi Commission: Many radical recommendations like:
- The term “Pleasure of president” to be removed and the state legislature should be the removal authority (i.e. impeachment by state legislature).
- Fixed tenure
- Governor has no power to unilaterally summon an Assembly session unless the government has, in his view, lost its majority.
- Governor cannot take steps relating to disqualification of the Speaker.
- Governor is barred from unilaterally sending messages to the Assembly on any matter.
- Governor is bound by the “aid and advice” of the elected Council of Ministers as the default rule.
- The matters in which governor has discretionary powers must be specified “by or under the Constitution”.
- Governor merely possessed the formal authority of state and could act as a safety valve in case there was a breakdown of constitutional machinery.
Read Also: Gorkhaland Issue
- The possible solution would be not to nominate career politicians and also choose “eminent persons” from other walks of life. And, both the Sarkaria and M.M. Punchhi Commissions seem to hint at this. But, this can also lead to the creation of some sycophants within the intelligentsia, an equally worrisome prospect.
- However, one has to consider the verdict of the Supreme Court in B.P. Singhal v. Union of India, on interpreting Article 156 of the Constitution and also the arbitrary removal of Governors before the expiration of their tenure. But, this judgment is crucial since a fixed tenure for Governors could go quite far in encouraging neutrality and also fairness in the discharge of their duties, unmindful of the dispensation at the Centre.
- Since the Bommai verdict allows the Supreme Court to investigate all the claims of mala fide in thereport of governer, a similar extension to cover mala fide in the invitation process could be a potential solution.