Sarkaria Commission & Punchhi Commission

Sarkaria Commission

The central government set up the Justice R S Sarkaria Commission in June 1983 to examine the relationship and balance of power between state and central governments. The Commission, which dealt with the role of Governors, suggested that in choosing a Chief Minister, the Governor should be guided by the following principles:

*The party or combination of parties that command the widest support in the Legislative Assembly should be called to form the government.

* The Governor’s task is to see that a government is formed — and not to try to form a government that will pursue policies that he approves. 

* If no party has a majority, the Governor has to invite: a) a pre-poll alliance, b) the largest single party that is able to gain majority support, c) a post-election coalition that has the required members, d) a post-election coalition in which partners are willing to extend outside support.

The Commission recommended that the Chief Minister must seek a vote of confidence in the Assembly within 30 days of taking over. It also said the Governor should not risk determining the issue of majority support outside the Assembly, and that the prudent course would be to have the claims tested on the floor of the House.

Punchhi Commission

A Commission headed by former Chief Justice of India M M Punchhi was set up in April 2007 to take a fresh look at the roles and responsibilities of governments at various levels, and the relations between them. The Commission recommended that there should be clear guidelines for the appointment of Chief Ministers, so that there was some sort of regulation on the discretionary power of the Governor.

It said that a pre-poll alliance must be treated as one political party, and laid down the order of precedence that the Governor must follow in case of a hung House:

1) Group with the largest pre-poll alliance commanding the largest number;

2) Single largest party with support of others;

3) Post-electoral coalition with all parties joining the government;

4) Post-electoral alliance with some parties joining the government, and the remaining, including Independents, supporting from outside.

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