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Tussle in Kerala: Can Governor Khan dismiss a state minister?

  • Published
    19th Oct, 2022
Context

Kerela’s governor appeared to have threatened to sack the minister who “lower the dignity” of his office. It has invited many interpretations.

Governor and the parliamentary system:

  • Constitutional Position: Article 153-161 prescribes the position; role; powers, and conditions of his office. Governor’s position is somewhat similar to that of the President at the union.
  • Apolitical position: Although the constitution envisaged it to be an apolitical position the role of governors has been a contentious issue in center-state relations for decades.

Minister holding office during the pleasure of the governor:

  • Article 164 (1): Governor doesn’t have to seek advice while appointing the CM, but it can only appoint a minister only on a recommendation of the CM.
  • Shamsher Singh $ Anr vs State of Punjab (SC-1974): The Governors shall exercise their powers only in accordance with the advice of their ministers except in well-known exceptional situations.
  • Nabam Rebia And Etc. vs Deputy Speaker Ans Ors (SC-2016): Governor under the constitution has no function that it can discharge by itself.

Attempts made to address the partisan role of the Governor:

  • National Commission to review the working of the constitution (2000): Normally the appointment, removal, and transfer of the governor should be done after consultation with the state CM.
  • Sarkaria Commission (1983): It purposed that the vice-president and speaker of the Lok Sabha should be consulted by the PM in the selection of the Governors.
  • M M Punchi Committee (2007): It recommended that a committee comprising of the PM, Home Minister, Vice-President, Speaker, and concerned CM should choose the Governor. It also recommended ‘impeachment of Governor by state legislature’ for deletion of the  “Doctrine of pleasure”.
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