Context: Recently, Dravida Munnethra Kazhagam (DMK) leader urged “all like-minded MPs” to support a proposal to remove the Tamil Nadu governor, R N Ravi.
Appointment and Removal of Governor:
- Under Article 155 and 156 of the Constitution, a Governor is appointed by the President and holds office “during the pleasure of the President”.
- If this pleasure is withdrawn before completion of the five-year term, the Governor has to step down.
- As the President works on the aid and advice of the Prime Minister and the council of ministers, in effect, the Governor can be appointed and removed by the central government.
- Thus, a Governor is a representative of the Union government in states.
- Article 163 of the Constitution says the Governor will normally be aided and advised by the Council of Ministers except in those functions which require his discretion.
- While the Governor’s duties and responsibilities lie in a particular state, there is no provision for impeaching the Governor.
Relation between Governor-Elected Govt:
- Although a governor need to be apolitical head who must act on the advice of the council of ministers, the Governor enjoys certain powers granted under the Constitution, such as
- giving or withholding assent to a Bill passed by the state legislature,
- assenting to the convening of the state legislative assembly,
- determining the time needed for a party to prove its majority, and which party must be called first do so, generally after a hung verdict in an election.
- All these powers have been flashpoints recently — to cite two instances, when the Maharashtra Governor had Devendra Fadnavis sworn in as the chief minister in 2019 amid a hung verdict, only for his government to fall in 80 hours; and when the Punjab Governor in September refused to allow a special session of the Assembly for a vote of confidence in the AAP government.
- There are no provisions laid down in the Constitution for the manner in which the Governor and the state must engage publicly when there is a difference of opinion.
- The management of differences has traditionally been guided by respect for each other’s boundaries.
Judicial rulings on the relation:
- Since the Governor holds office “on the pleasure of the President”, questions have been raised time and again on whether the Governor has any security of tenure, and if the President is obligated to show reasons for recalling a Governor.
- In Surya Narain Choudhary vs Union of India (1981), the Rajasthan High Court held that the pleasure of the President was not justiciable, the Governor had no security of tenure and can be removed at any time by the President withdrawing pleasure.
- In BP Singhal vs Union of India (2010), the Supreme Court elaborated on the pleasure doctrine. It upheld that “no limitations or restrictions are placed on the ‘at pleasure’ doctrine”, but that “does not dispense with the need for a cause for withdrawal of the pleasure”.
- the Bench, while noting that the President can remove the Governor from office “at any time without assigning any reason and without giving any opportunity to show cause”, the power to remove can’t be exercised in an “arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable manner”.
- “The power will have to be exercised in rare and exceptional circumstances for valid and compelling reasons.
- A Governor cannot be removed on the ground that he is out of sync with the policies and ideologies of the Union Government or the party in power at the Centre. Nor can he be removed on the ground that the Union Government has lost confidence in him,”
Recommendations of various commissions:
- The Sarkaria Commission had recommended that Governors are not sacked before completing their five-year tenure, except in “rare and compelling” circumstances.
- Punchi Commission (2010): Recommendations have also been made for a provision to impeach the Governor by the Assembly.
- The recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission and the Punchi Commission report need to be examined closely to make proper amendments to the functions of the post of governor.
- Governor’s office should be apolitical. There should be a panel involving the opposition, ruling party, civil society and the judiciary in the selection process of Governor.
- Governor should be appointed only after consultation with the CM of the state where he/she will work.
Source: Indian Express