27th October, 2022 Polity and Governance
Copyright infringement not intended
- The Governor of Kerala said that the Finance Minister of the state has ceased to enjoy the Governor’s pleasure in continuing in office as he had “stoked regionalism and challenged national unity”.
- Last week the Governor’s decision to ask the Vice-Chancellors of 11 universities to resign over the process of appointments led to a controversy.
- Recent decisions and statements made by the state Governors have started a debate related to the power and limitations of the State Governor.
- Part VI of the Indian constitution deals with the state executive under Articles 153 to 167.
- The Governor, the chief minister, the council of ministers, and the state's attorney general comprise the state executive.
- Article 153 of the Indian constitution requires that there shall be a Governor for each State.
- Normally, each state has its governor, but the 7th the constitutional Amendment Act of 1956 made it easier to appoint the same individual to serve as governor of two or more states.
- Article 154 vests the executive power of the State in the Governor.
- Article 155 says that the Governor of a State shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal.
- Article 156 provides that ―The Governor shall hold office at the pleasure of the President.
- Article 157 lay down two qualifications for the office of the Governor:
- He should be a citizen of India.
- Must have completed the age of 35 years.
- The term of the Governor is prescribed as 5 years.
- He can quit at any time by writing the President a letter of resignation.
- Article 158; Conditions of the Governor’s office as the following:
- Shall not be a member of either House of Parliament or State Legislature, and if such a member is appointed Governor, he shall be deemed to have vacated his seat in that House on the date on which he enters upon his office as Governor.
- Shall not hold any other office of profit.
- The Governor has to take oath/affirmation before entering upon his office, in the presence of the Chief Justice of the High Court exercising jurisdiction to the State, or, in his absence, the senior-most Judge of that Court available to faithfully discharge the functions.
Executive Powers of Governors
● The Governor is the chief executive of the state; all executive actions must be conducted in his or her name.
● The executive power of the state is vested in the Governor.
● He exercises it either directly or through officers subordinate to him.
● It has been held that ministers are officers subordinate to them.
● The executive power of the state extends to all matters concerning which the State Legislature has the power to make laws.
● All executive is expressed to be taken in the name of the Governor.
● All orders, instruments, etc are authenticated in the manner specified in the rules made by the Governor.
● Appoints the Chief Minister and other ministers are appointed by him on the advice of the Chief Minister.
● Appoints the Council of Ministers, Advocate General, Chairman and the members of the State Public Service Commission.
● He has the power to nominate 1/12th of the members of the Legislative Council of State.
● The persons to be nominated are required to have special knowledge and practical experience in respect of Literature, Science and Arts etc.
Legislative Powers of Governors
● The Governor is a part of the state legislature (Art. 168). He undertakes the following legislative tasks in this capacity:
○ The legislative Assembly is summoned, prorogued, and then dissolved.
○ Right to speak to and send messages to the legislature.
● No Bill can become law unless it receives the Governor's approval.
● He has the option of giving his consent, withholding his assent, or exercising his pocket veto over a state bill.
● He has the power of causing to be laid the legislature, the Annual Financial Statement (Budget) and reports of the State Finance Commission.
● Without his recommendation, no demand for a grant can be made by the legislature.
● May reserve Bills for the assent of the President made by the Legislature.
Financial Power of Governors
● The annual financial statement is put before the legislature (Art-202).
● Without the Governor's permission, a money bill cannot be introduced in the State Legislative Assembly.
● In the name of the Governor, the annual and supplemental budgets are introduced in the Assembly.
● No grant request can be made unless he recommends it.
● The State Contingency Fund is under the jurisdiction of the Governor, and it cannot be used without his approval.
- When the president appoints judges to the State High Court, he consults him.
- According to Article 161, the Governor has the authority to suspend, remit, or commute the sentence of anyone guilty of violating the law that the state's executive power extends.
- Pardon: the accused is fully free of any consequences.
- Reprieves are temporary halts in the execution of the punishment.
- Respite is a reduction of the severity of a penalty for a specific reason.
- Remission: a reduction in the length of a sentence without changing its nature.
- Commutation is the process of substituting one form of punishment for a less severe one.
- Misuse of discretionary powers: States allege that the Governor acts on behalf of the Union government for political gains.
- Appointment by Centre: The post has become a retirement package for politicians.
- Arbitrary removal before the expiration of their tenure: Even after the Supreme Court Judgement in B.P. Singhal v/s Union of India, a fixed tenure for Governors to encourage neutrality and fairness in the discharge of their duties, is not being implemented on the ground.
- Punchhi Commission elaborated that the governor should follow “Constitutional Conventions” in a case of a hung Assembly.
- Bommai Case mentioned that the discretion of the Governor does not apply to hung assembly but it emphasized floor tests in the house within 48 hours.
- Sarkaria Commission recommended that;
- The governor must be an important figure.
- He must be a distant person who has no strong political ties or has not recently participated in politics.
- He must not be a member of the ruling party.
- If possible, the governor's term should be five years.
- He should only be dismissed prior to his term for reasons stated in the constitution, or for reasons such as his morality, dignity, or constitutional order.
- The constitution does not allow the governor to run a parallel government and does not hold him personally responsible for his actions as governor.
- The governor must be a high constitutional authority, function within the terms of the constitution, and be a friend, philosopher, and leader of his government.