Misuse of The Office of The Governor

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Misuse of The Office of The Governor
06 Aug 2020

The Governor and his powers

The Governor is the chief executive of a state, whose functions resembles the functions of President in the centre. The Governor exercises his functions in accordance with the advice of Council of Ministers of that state. Let’s look at the powers of governors and other provisions:

  • Article 53, of the Constitution states that there shall be a Governor of a state, it is provided that one person can be appointed the Governor of two states also,
  • Article 154 talks about executive power of Governor, which says that- Governor shall be the executive head of the state and those powers shall be exercised directly or indirectly by the him or through his subordinate offices.
  • The Governor is appointed by the President under his seal.
  • The Governor is supposed to hold the office during the pleasure of the President, which means that he shall be appointed to the office unless president wants him to leave it.
  • The Governor can grant pardon, reprieves, respites and remissions of punishment or sentence which has been given to any convict of any offence.
  • The Governor appoints the Chief Minister and other ministers are also appointed by the Governor with the advice of Chief Minister.
  • The Governor is advised by Council of Ministers in the exercising of his functions.

Historical Background

Under the Government of India Act, 1935, Governors were “By the raj and for the raj”. The Constituent Assembly wanted elected members as proposed by a sub committee. There was a clash between people that the powers of Governor and Prime Minister will collide, so they proposed the system of an appointed Governor.

The draft Constitution of 1948 left it to the assembly that the Governors must be elected or appointed.

What is the need of a Governor?

The post of a Governor is very important as it maintains the Constitutional government in the state by its powers and functions. The Governor acts as a nexus and a link between the union and the state government. He invites the party which has the majority to form the government of the state, and he is the one who carries all the important constitutional functions. The system of elected government needs a system of checks and balances and Governor acts as one.

How can the office of Governor be misused?

In many of the cases it has been seen that the post of Governor is misused as a puppet in the hands of ruling party. The process of appointment of the Governor is main reason behind such bad mechanism. If we look carefully, we see that most of the people who are appointed on the post of Governor tend to have political connection or nexus with any party. This results in the violation of neutral seat that the constitution prescribed for the Governor. Such things have been seen in the state of Karnataka and Goa.

Many Governors tend to support political parties directly or indirectly which goes against the spirit of office of Governor. Due to such incidents, people call such Governors like- agent of the centre or the puppet in the hands of centre.

T.B. Pattabhi Sitaramayya, who has been a former Governor of Madhya Pradesh, has mentioned that during his term has Governor, he had no public function except submitting reports to the President, which brings us to the next issue, which is the Governor is left as a rubber stamp by the State Legislature. Because he is required to act on the advise of Council of Ministers, which makes him a rubber stamp.

Apart from this, the Governors are appointed by the President. And the President mostly happens to be from the ruling party, which makes this post vulnerable to the hands of the central government.

Stand of Supreme Court on this matter

In the case of S.R. Bommai v. UOI, AIR 1994 SC, the Supreme Court after following the recommendations of Sarkaria Commission underlined that the breakdown of Constitutional machinery implied a virtual impossibility.

SC has also classified some instances of failure of Constitutional machinery in a state such as- political crisis, internal subversion, physical breakdown etc.

Steps need to be taken for such issue

Governor, as considered the executive head of a state, must be given the freedom to exercise his powers freely. For this purpose following steps can be taken-

  • The provisions for the appointment of the governor and his removal are needed to be amended, so that the Union is no more able to control the governor and his actions.
  • Some system of check and balances must be introduced for the post of Governor too. This system must be free from the influence of the government. As we have seen the examples of many states we can collectively say that such system is much required.
  • The Parliament, along with the Union Government, State Governments and the State Legislatures must introduce a code of conduct for the Governors, and such provision must be made constitutional so that no one could run from it.
  • The Governors must be awarded a fixed tenure so that no one can misuse the vulnerability in its favor.

Conclusion

We cannot hide our head in the sand like an ostrich just to avoid the situation. The government and its whole mechanism is the very much essence of this democratic country. If offices like Governors will become dependent on governments, they will not be able to save the democracy and supremacy of the constitution from the malicious intentions of the government. For this purpose, it is so important that the provisions must be amended accordingly and they must be stopped from being misused.

Also Read | The House of People - Lok Sabha