Rajasthan crisis: Constitution on governor’s power
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Polity – Constitution, Governor, C-S Relations
Rajasthan Governor told the state government that an assembly session can be called at a short notice but with certain conditions –
- Giving a 21-day notice for the session
- Live broadcast of the floor test, if it is held
- Social distancing in the assembly
From exam perspective, we should know the following –
- Who has the powers to summon the House?
- What the law says about a governor’s power to summon, prorogue or dissolve an assembly?
- What has the Supreme Court said in the past about the Governor’s power to summon the House?
- Constituent Assembly Debate on the issue
Who has the powers to summon the House?
- It is the Governor acting on the aid and advice of the cabinet.
What the law says about a governor’s power to summon, prorogue or dissolve an assembly?
There are two provisions in the Constitution that deal with a governor’s power to summon, prorogue and dissolve an assembly.
- Under Article 174, a governor shall summon the House at a time and place, as she or he thinks fit. Article 174 (2) (a) says a governor may from “time to time” prorogue the House and 174 (2) (b) allows her or him to dissolve the Legislative Assembly.
- Article 163 says the governor shall exercise her or his functions with the aid and advice of the council of ministers. But it also adds that she or he would not need their advice if the Constitution requires her or him to carry out any function at her/his discretion.
Usually, the two Articles — 174 and 163 — are read together to outline the governor’s powers in summoning, proroguing or dissolving the House.
Article 163(1) essentially limits any discretionary power of the Governor only to cases where the Constitution expressly specifies that the Governor must act on his own and apply an independent mind.
What has the Supreme Court said in the past about the Governor’s power to summon the House?
- A 2016 verdict of the Supreme Court in the Nabam Rebia case had expressly stated that a “governor can summon, prorogue and dissolve the House, only on the aid and advice of the council of ministers”.
- But the court clarified that if the governor had reasons to believe that the chief minister and her or his council of ministers have lost the confidence of the House, a floor test could be ordered.
- Chief Minister has said that he has the “confidence of the House”. Hence, the governor is bound by their (council of ministers) advice to convene the legislative assembly.
Constituent Assembly Debate on Article 174
- The then draft had three clauses in the provision. The first two clauses were similar to the ones mentioned in Article 174 in the present form.
- The third clause allowed the governor to exercise her or his discretion to summon, prorogue and dissolve the assembly.
- During the Constituent Assembly debate, it was submitted that there was no reason why the governor, in her or his discretion, should be permitted to summon or dissolve the House, when no such discretionary power was being extended to the President (with regard to summoning and dissolution of the Parliament).
- Later B.R. Ambedkar moved to omit clause 3, as the same was inconsistent with the scheme of a “constitutional” governor.