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Governor’s powers, friction with states, and why this happens often

  • Published
    10th Feb, 2022
Context

Governor’s power and friction with states.

About

Governor and his/her Appointment:

  • The governor is head of the state.
  • The governor is neither directly elected by the people nor elected a specially constituted electoral college.
  • The governor is directly appointed by the President. Thus, he is considered to be a nominee of the Central government.
  • The post of the governor is a constitutional post and not an employment under the Central government.
  • The term of the Governor is prescribed as five years. However, the governor is allowed to hold office at the will of the President.
  • The only qualifications for appointment as Governor are that he should be a citizen of India and must have completed the age of thirty-five years.

Recent points of friction between state and Governor:

  1. In November 2018, then J&K Governor Satyapal Malik dissolved the assembly amid indications that various parties were coming together to form the government. This paved the way for the centre to later bifurcate the state.
  2. In West Bengal, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar has often comented on law and order and political violence.
  3. In December 2020, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan turned down a request to summon a special sitting of the assembly to debate the three central farm laws.

Recommendations of SC Judgements and Committees

Many committees focused on Articles 356 and 357 like:

  • Deletion of articles: The Rajamannar Committee (1971) recommended the deletion of Articles 356 and 357 from the constitution of India and also emphasised that the governor of the state should not consider himself as an agent of the centre but play his role as the constitutional head of the State.
  • Rare use of articles: The Sarkaria Commission (1988) recommended that Article 356 should be used in very rare cases when it becomes unavoidable to restore the breakdown of constitutional machinery in the State.

The commission recommended that before taking action under Article 356, a warning should be issued to the state government that it is not functioning according to the constitution.

  • Amendment in the articles: The Punchhi commission recommended that Articles 355 & 356 be amended. It sought to protect the interests of the States by trying to curb their misuse by the Centre.
  • Judgement on the President's Rule: The Administrative Reforms Commission (1968) recommended that the report of the governor regarding the president's rule has to be objective and also the governor should exercise his own judgment in this regard.

Concerns due to abuse of power by Governor

  • The union government is able to control the affairs of the states with the Governor who is appointed by them and reports directly to the President.
  • Abusing the discretionary powers while selecting the parties to form government will break the democratic set up as government is formed by parties who did not have majority support of people.
  • Either way, to stay true to the spirit of the Constitution, the Governor should desist from conferring discretionary powers to his office where there are none.
  • The people will lose faith in the office of Governor who in most cases acts like an agent of the union government and not as an independent office.
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