Daily News Analysis

Governor

11th January, 2022 Polity

Figure 2: no copyright infringement intended

Context:

  • Recent reports on the dispute between the governors of maharashtra and kerala and the government re-emphasize the fragile relationship between the constitutional head of state and the elected government.

 

Recent examples:

  • In maharashtra, the governor recently refused to accept the election day recommended by the state government for the speaker. As a result, the assembly was unable to elect a speaker.
  • In kerala, the governor has reappointed the vice-president of kannur university in accordance with the law and pressured the kerala government to re-appoint the vice-president.
  • The tamil nadu chief minister recently announced that his government has appointed a vice chancellor of the university and is considering an option to remove the governor's authority.
  • Such conflicts between the governor and the state government are also frequent in states such as rajasthan and west bengal.

Meaning of agent of centre: 

  • Governors are always seeking an opportunity to run down the state government when it is in the hands of a party opposed to the party ruling at the centre.
  • He is always trying to bring about a government of the same party as at the centre.

Different methods to act as agent of centre:

  • Issues of selecting the chief minister
  • Determining the timing for proving legislative majority
  • Demanding information about day-to-day administration
  • Taking apparently long time in giving assent to bills or reserving bills for the president
  • Commenting adversely on specific policies of the state government

Philosophy of discretionary powers of governor:

  • Discretionary power, beyond the specific situations mentioned in the constitution, does not enable a governor to override the state government.
  • It is not a general clause giving the governor power to disregard the advice of his ministers in any matter in which he finds he ought to disregard.
  • Governor discretionary powers are for good and pure administration, and not for promoting the interests of the party ruling at the centre.

Different role of discretionary powers:

  • Role of seeking information from ministries is to advise the ministry, to warn the ministry, to suggest to the ministry an alternative for any action which would be constitutional and in public interest and ask for reconsideration.
  • Reserving a bill for president consideration: it is necessary for the governor to make sure that state’s laws fall within the framework of the constitution.
  • Appointment of chief minister: according to the sarkaria commission, this power’s role  is to see that a government is formed and not to try to form a government.

Why governors act as agent of centre:

  • Appointment: since, he is appointed by the centre, hence, on the interest of centre.
  • Lack of tenure: governor doesn't have security of tenure which makes them dependent upon the centre wishes.
  • Discretionary powers: discretionary constitutional powers like reserving the bills for president consideration provides for the centre’s interference with state legislative process.
  • Credibility of person: governor post has become a parking lot for the retired bureaucrats and politicians rather than for people of high integrity.

Important recommendations:

 Sarkaria commission

  • The governor must be an important figure.
  • He must be a distant person who has no strong political ties or has not recently participated in politics.
  • He must not be a member of the ruling party.
  • If possible, the governor's term should be five years.
  • He should only be dismissed prior to his term for reasons stated in the constitution, or for reasons such as his morality, dignity, or constitutional order.

Punch committee

  • The governor was given a fixed period of five years and was required to allow the governor to be dismissed through a procedure similar to that of the president by the legislature.
  • The governor should have the right to sanction the minister's accusations against the advise of council of ministers.

Conclusion

  • The constitution does not allow the governor to run a parallel government and does not hold him personally responsible for his actions as governor.
  • "The governor is the man above the party and will see the minister and the government from a distant perspective," said pandit thakur dass bargava, a member of the assembly.
  • The governor must be a high constitutional authority, function within the terms of the constitution, and be a friend, philosopher, and leader of his government.