Introduction

  • The Governor’s appointment, his powers and everything related to the office of Governor have been discussed under Article 153 to Article 162 of the Indian Constitution.
  • The role of the Governor is quite similar to that of the President of India. The Governor performs the same duties as of President, but for the State. Governor stands as executive head of a State and the working remains the same as of the office of President of India. Under the Constitution of India, the governing machinery is the same as that of the Central Government.
  • It is stated that the Governor has a dual role.
    • He is the constitutional head of the state, bound by the advice of his council of ministers.
    • He functions as a vital link between the Union Government and the State Government.

Constitutional Provisions related to Governor

  • The appointment and powers of government can be derived from Part VI of the Indian constitution. Article 153 says that there shall be a Governor for each State. One person can be appointed as Governor for two or more States.
  • The governor acts in ‘Dual Capacity’ as the Constitutional head of the state and as the representative.
  • He is the part of federal system of Indian polity and acts as a bridge between union and state governments.
  • Article 157 and Article 158 of the Constitution of India specify eligibility requirements for the post of governor. They are as follows:
  • A governor must:
    1. Be a citizen of India.
    2. Be at least 35 years of age.
    3. Not be a member of the either house of the parliament or house of the state legislature.
    4. Not hold any office of profit.
  • The term of governor’s office is normally 5 years but it can be terminated earlier by:
    1. Dismissal by the president on the advice of the council of minister headed by the prime minister of the country.
    2. Dismissal of governors without a valid reason is not permitted. However, it is the duty of the President to dismiss a governor whose acts are upheld by courts as unconstitutional and malafide.
    3. Resignation by the governor.

Constitutional provisions

  • Article 163: It talks about the discretionary power of governor.
  • Article 256: The executive power of the Union shall extend to the giving of such directions to a State as may appear to the Government of India to be necessary for that purpose.
  • Article 257: The executive power of the Union shall also extend to the giving of directions to a State as to the construction and maintenance of means of communication declared in the direction to be of national or military importance:
  • Article 355: It entrusts the duty upon Union to protect the states against “external aggression” and “internal disturbance” to ensure that the government of every State is carried on in accordance with the provisions of Constitution.
  • Article 356: In the event that a state government is unable to function according to constitutional provisions, the Central government can take direct control of the state machinery. The state’s governor issues the proclamation, after obtaining the consent of the President of India.
  • Article 357: It deals with Exercise of legislative powers under Proclamation issued under Article 356 by the central government.

Key Commission’s & their Recommendations

S.R. Bommai Judgment

  • In S.R. Bommai case (1994), following the Sarkaria Commission’s recommendations, the Supreme Court underlined that the breakdown of constitutional machinery implied a virtual impossibility, and not a mere difficulty, in carrying out governance in a State.
    • SC said that while the subjective satisfaction of the President regarding such a breakdown was beyond judicial scrutiny, the material on which such satisfaction was based could certainly be analysed by the judiciary, including the Governor’s report.
    • The Court reinstated the governments in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand which were suspended after the arbitrary imposition of the President’s Rule.
  • The Supreme Court classified the instances of failure of constitutional machinery into four heads:
    1. Political crises.
    2. Internal subversion.
    3. Physical breakdown.
    4. Non-compliance with constitutional directions of the Union Executive.
  • The Supreme Court in the Nabam Rebia judgment (2016) ruled that the exercise of Governor’s discretion Article 163 is limited and his choice of action should not be arbitrary or fanciful. It must be a choice dictated by reason, actuated by good faith and tempered by caution.
  • 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.
  • The Rajamannar Committee (1971) recommended the deletion of Articles 356 and 357 from the constitution of India. The necessary provisions for safeguards against arbitrary action of the ruling party at the Centre under Article 356 should be incorporated in the constitution.
  • The Rajamannar Committee 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.
  • 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.
  • “Justice V.Chelliah Commission” (2002) recommended that Article 356 must be used sparingly and only as a remedy of the last resort after exhausting all actions under Articles 256, 257 and 355.
  • The “Punchhi commission” recommended that these Articles 355 & 356 be amended. It sought to protect the interests of the States by trying to curb their misuse by the Centre.