Governor of State – Appointment, Term, Powers & Discretion

0
1708
Governor of state
Governor of State

The office of the Governor of State has been envisaged by the Constitution of India as the Chief Executive Head of a State. Despite being only a nominal head of the Executive, the Governor of a State plays a significant role in the polity of a state through his/her diverse executive, legislative, and judicial powers. This article of NEXT IAS aims to study in detail the Governor of a State, related constitutional provisions, process of appointment, conditions of office, functions, powers, and other related aspects.

  • The Governor of State is the highest office of the State under the constitutional framework of India.
  • The office of the Governor of State has been envisaged as having dual roles:
    • The Nominal Executive Head or Titular or Constitutional Head of the State Executive, as well as
    • An agent of the Central Government.
The State Executive consists of:
– The Governor of State,
– The Chief Minister of State,
– The Council of Ministers (CoM), and
– The Advocate General of State (AGS).
  • Articles 153-167 in Part VI of the Indian Constitution deal with the State Executive. They also contain some key provisions related to the Governor of State.
  • The constitutional provisions mentioned under these articles deal with matters related to the appointment, qualifications, powers, functions, and other aspects related to the office of the Governor of State.
  • The Governor of State is appointed by the President of India by warrant under his hand and seal.
    • Thus, the Governor is neither directly elected by the people nor indirectly elected by a specially constituted electoral college as is the case with the President of India.
Key Fact Regarding Appointment of Governor of State
– The process of appointment of the Governor of State by the President of India is based on the Canadian model, where the Governor of a Province or State is appointed by the Centre.
  • Being appointed by the Center, the Governor of State acts as a nominee of the Central Government.
    • However, as observed by the Supreme Court in the Hargovind Pant vs. Raghukul Tilak Case of 1979:
      • the office of the Governor of State is not an employment under the Central government.
      • the office of the Governor of State is an independent constitutional office and is not under the control of or subordinate to the Central government.
  • Usually, a Governor is appointed for each Indian State. But, as provided by the 7th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1956, the same person can be appointed as the Governor for two or more States.
Reasons for choosing appointment over election for the office of the Governor of State
– The direct election of the Governor would be incompatible with the Parliamentary System established in the States.
– The direct election would have created conflicts between the Governor and the Chief Minister of the State.
– The Governor is only a Constitutional or Nominal head. There was no point in making elaborate arrangements or spending too much time and money on his elections.
– The election of a governor would be entirely on personal issues. Hence, it would not be in the national interest to involve a large number of voters in such an election.
– An elected Governor would naturally belong to a political party and would not be a neutral person and an impartial head of the State.
– The election of a Governor would create separatist tendencies and thus affect the political stability and unity of the country.
– The system of Presidential nomination enables the Centre to maintain its control over the States.
– The direct election of the Governor would create a serious problem of leadership at the time of a general election in the State.
– The Chief Minister would like his/her nominee to contest for Governorship. Hence, a second-rate man of the ruling party would be elected as Governor.

The Indian Constitution lays down only two qualifications for the appointment of a person as the Governor of State:

  • He should be a citizen of India, and
  • He should have completed the age of 35 years.
The Sarkaria Commission on Centre-State Relations (1983-88) made the following recommendations with regard to the selection and appointment of a Governor:

– A person to be appointed as a Governor should satisfy the following criteria:
a. He should be eminent in some walk of life.
b. He should be a person from outside the State.
c. He should be a detached figure and not too intimately connected with the local politics of the State.
d. He should be a person who has not participated actively in politics in the recent past.

– It is desirable that a politician from the ruling party at the Centre is not appointed as Governor of a State which is being run by some other party or a combination of other parties.
– In order to ensure effective consultation with the State Chief Minister in the selection of a person to be appointed as Governor, the procedure of consultation should be prescribed in the constitution itself by suitably amending Article 155.
– The Vice-President of India and the Speaker of the Lok Sabha shall be consulted by the Prime Minister in selecting a Governor. This consultation should be confidential and informal and should not be a matter of constitutional obligation.
  • The oath of office of the Governor of State is administered by the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court, and in his/her absence, the senior-most judge of that court available.
  • In his oath, the Governor swears:
    • to faithfully execute the office.
    • to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and the law.
    • to devote himself to the service and well-being of the people of the State.

The Constitution lays down the following conditions for the Governor’s office:

  • He should not be a member of either the House of Parliament or the House of the State Legislature.
    • If any such person is appointed as the Governor, he is deemed to have vacated his seat in that House on the date on which he enters upon his office as the Governor.
  • He should not hold any other office of profit.

While serving in the office, the Governor of State is entitled to:

  • Use the official residence of the Governor of State, the Raj Bhawan, without payment of any rent.
  • Receive such emoluments, allowances, and privileges as may be determined by Parliament.
Note:
– The emoluments and allowances of the Governor of State cannot be diminished during his term of office.
– When the same person is appointed as the Governor of two or more States, the emoluments and allowances payable to him are shared by the States in such proportion as determined by the President of India.
– The Current Salary of the Governor of State is ₹ 3.50 lakhs per month.

The Governor is entitled to a number of privileges and immunities as described below:

  • He enjoys personal immunity from legal liability for his official acts.
  • During his term of office, he is immune from any criminal proceedings, even in respect of his personal acts.
  • Civil proceedings can be instituted against him in respect of his personal acts during his term of office after giving two months’ notice.
  • While serving in the office, he cannot be arrested or imprisoned.
  • The Governor holds office for a term of 5 years from the date on which he enters his office.
    • However, his term of 5 years is subject to the pleasure of the President of India.
  • He can hold office beyond his term of 5 years until his/her successor assumes charge of that office.
  • He/she is eligible for re-appointment in the same state or any other state.

The Governor of a State can resign at any time by addressing a resignation letter to the President of India.

  • The Governor of State holds office during the pleasure of the President of India and can be removed by the President at any time.
  • The Constitution of India does not lay down any grounds upon which a Governor can be removed by the President of India.
  • In the Surya Narain vs. Union of India Case of 1981, the Supreme Court held that the pleasure of the President (while removing the Governor) is not justifiable.
    • Thus, the Governor of State may be removed from office by the President of India at any time.
    • Therefore, the governor has no security of tenure and no fixed term of office.

The President of India can transfer a Governor appointed to one State to another state for the rest of his term.

The powers and functions of the Governor of State can be studied under the following heads:

Functions and Powers of Governor of State 
Executive Powers of Governor of State 
Legislative Powers of Governor of State
Financial Powers of Governor of State
Judicial Powers of Governor of State
Veto Power of Governor of State
Ordinance Making Power of Governor of State
Pardoning Power of Governor of State
  • The Constitutional position of the Governor of State can be gauged by the following two constitutional provisions:
    • Article 154 – The executive power of the State shall be vested in the Governor and shall be exercised by him either directly or through officers subordinate to him in accordance with this Constitution.
    • Article 163 – There shall be a Council of Ministers (CoM) with the Chief Minister as the head to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions, except in so far as he is required to exercise his functions in his discretion.
  • Thus, the constitutional position of the Governor of State differs from that of the President of India as described below.
Constitutional Position of PresidentConstitutional Position of Governor
– The Indian Constitution does not envisage the possibility for the President to act in his discretion.– The Indian Constitution envisages the possibility for the Governor to act in his discretion at times.
– The 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act of 1976 made the advice of the Union Council of Ministers binding on the President of India.No provision has been made making advice of the State Council of Ministers binding on the Governor of State.
  • Unlike the President of India, the Governor of State has been provided with some constitutional discretion. In this regard, the Constitution makes the following provisions:
    • If any question arises as to whether a matter falls within the Governor’s discretion or not, the decision of the Governor is final.
    • The validity of anything done by the Governor cannot be called into question on the ground that he ought or ought not to have acted in his discretion.
  • The constitutional discretionary powers of the Governor can be seen in the following cases:
    • To reserve a bill for the consideration of the President.
    • To recommend for the imposition of the President’s Rule in the State.
    • To exercise his functions as the administrator of an adjoining Union Territory (in case of an additional charge).
    • To determine the amount payable by the Government of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram to an autonomous Tribal District Council as royalty accruing from licenses for mineral exploration.

Along with the above constitutional discretions, the Governor of State also enjoys situational discretion in the following cases:

  • To appoint a Chief Minister when no party has a clear majority or when the Chief Minister in office dies suddenly and there is no obvious successor.
  • To dismiss the Council of Ministers when it cannot prove the confidence of the State Legislative Assembly.
  • To dissolve the State Legislative Assembly if the Council of Ministers has lost its majority.

The Governor, as the highest constitutional authority of the State, occupies a pivotal position in the democratic framework of the State. Through his dual role as constitutional head of the state as well as the representative of the Centre, he ensures the smooth functioning of and coordination among the 3 wings of the state government along with acting as a bridge between the Central and State governments.

Who was the first Governor General of India?

The first Governor General of India was William Bentinck.

Who appoints the Governor of the State?

The President of India appoints the Governor of the State.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here