Appointment of Governors

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    In News

    • New Governors have been appointed recently in 12 states and the Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh.

    About 

    • The appointment of a former Judge of the Supreme Court has raised concerns regarding judicial accountability and independence of the Judiciary.
    • The concerns have been raised since the appointment was made soon after his retirement as SC judge.

    SC judge appointment as Governor.

    • The Law Commission in its 14th report was of the view that it is clearly undesirable that SC judges should look forward to other Government employment after their retirement.
    • The Late Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Rajya Sabha said almost everyone, bearing a few honourable men, wants a job post-retirement. If we (Parliament) don’t create it, they themselves create it.
    • The desire for a post-retirement job influences pre-retirement judgements. 
    • This is a threat to the independence of the judiciary which adversely impacts the functioning of the Judiciary. 
    • In 2012, the former CJI late J.S. Verma emphasised the need for a post-retirement code of conduct for Judges. 
    • A longer cooling-off period can help to set aside quid pro quo between the government (the biggest litigant before the SC) and the retiring Judge.

    Criticism of the Governor’s office

    • Political Tussle: When two different political parties are in power at the center and state. Instead of abridging the trust issues, the governor sometimes creates more tension. Governors are unable to shed their political inclinations, predilections, and prejudices while dealing with different political parties within the State.
    • Appointment: The Governor is appointed by the central government and therefore, actions of the Governor are often viewed as interference by the Central government in the functioning of the State government. The post has been reduced to becoming a retirement package for politicians for being politically faithful to the government of the day.
    • Tenure is under the discretion of the Union Government: Since the Governor holds office during the pleasure of the President and the President works on aid and advice of the Council of Ministers. Thus, the office is under the control of the ruling party at the center.
    • Misuse of Discretionary powers: He/she has the power to invite the leader of the largest party after the election to form the government, which has been often misused to favor a political party. Sometimes the Governor is criticised for appointing without consulting the state government. E.g. Vice Chancellors   
    • Reservation of Bills: Under Article 200, the Governor has the discretionary power to reserve bills for the President’s assent. This provision has been used by political parties to serve their partisan interests.

    Office of Governor

    • About:
      • Article 153 of the Constitution says “There shall be a Governor for each State”.
      • He/she is the Chief Executive Head of a State.
      • The governor is a nominal (titular or constitutional) head. 
      • Acts as an agent of the central government.
    • Appointment
      • Under Article 155, The Governor of a State shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal.
      • Under Article 156, the Governor shall hold office during the pleasure of the President.
    • Qualifications and Tenure
      • Under Article 157 only Indian citizens above 35 years of age are eligible for appointment to this office.
      •  The Governor of a State is appointed by the President for a term of five years.
      • The Governor has no security of tenure.
    • Functions
      • Article 163 of the Constitution says the Governor will normally be aided and advised by the Council of Ministers except in those functions which require his discretion.
      • Article 164 of the constitution says the Chief Minister shall be appointed by the Governor and the other Ministers shall be appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister, and the Ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor.
    • Powers:
      • Under Article 161 the Governor of a State shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites, or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the State extends.
      • Legislative Powers: The Governor has the power to prorogue and dissolve the state legislature.
        • Governor appoints one-sixth of the total members of the legislative council from the fields of literature, science, art, cooperative movement, and social service.
        • With respect to the bill introduced in the state legislature, he can give his assent, withhold his assent, return the bill, and reserve the bill for President’s consideration.
      • Executive Powers: All Executive actions in the state by the government are taken in his name.
        • The Chief Minister and Council of Ministers are appointed by him.
        • The Governor appoints the State Election Commissioner, Chairman and members of the State Public Service Commission, Advocate General of State, and Vice-Chancellor of Universities.
        • The President of India imposes President’s rule in any state on the recommendation of the Governor of the concerned state.

    Supreme Court’s view on the Governor’s Office

    • In the S.R. Bommai case, the SC ruled that the floor of the Assembly should be the only forum that should test the majority of the government of the day and not the subjective opinion of the Governor.
    • In the same landmark judgement, it was ruled that imposition of the President’s Rule shall be only in the event of a breakdown of constitutional machinery.
    • In the Rameshwar Prasad Case, 2006 the SC held that the Governor could not decide based on his subjective assessments regarding the proclamation of President Rule.
    • In the Nabam Rebia case of Arunachal Pradesh of 2016, the constitutional bench held that the Governor can summon, prorogue and dissolve the House only on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister as the head. And not at his own will.

    Suggestions to improve

    • Sarkaria Commission made recommendations regarding the appointment of the Governor:
      • The Governor should be an eminent person and must be from outside the state.
      • The Governor must not have been active in politics in the recent past and when there are different parties in the center and state, the governor should not be from the ruling party at the center.
      • The Governor should be appointed in consultation with the Chief Minister of the state, Vice President, and Speaker of Lok Sabha.
      • The Governor’s tenure of office must be guaranteed.
    • M.M. Punchhi Commission 
      • The appointment of the Governor should be entrusted to a committee comprising the Prime Minister, Home Minister, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, and Chief Minister of the concerned state.
      • The Commission recommended that the doctrine of pleasure should end and be deleted from the constitution.

    Source: IE