Governor-CM Tussle in Tamil Nadu

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    In Context

    • Governor walks out of Tamil Nadu state assembly amid growing rift with the government in state.

    About

    • While delivering the annual address to the state assembly, Governor R. N. Ravi left out some passages from the text prepared by the State government.
    • The step led to unprecedented scenes in the Assembly with CM moving a motion to merely record the transcript provided to lawmakers, which caused the Governor to leave the House.

    Governor

    • About: The Governor is the head of the executive branch of a state government in India and is appointed by the President of India.
    • Constitution: The Constitution of India provides for the office of Governor in Article 153, which states that there shall be a Governor for each state.
    • Tenure: Governor is appointed in general for a term of five years and is eligible for re-appointment.
    • Executive head: Governor acts as the representative of the President in the state and is responsible for ensuring that the state government functions within the framework of the Constitution.
    • Removal: The Governor may be removed by the President on the recommendation of the Council of Ministers at the Centre.

    Key responsibilities in the state assembly

    • Summoning and proroguing the state legislature: The Governor has the power to summon and prorogue the state legislative assembly as per the requirement.
    • Address the assembly: The Governor addresses the state legislative assembly at the beginning of the first session after each general election and the first session of each year.
    • Recommendation for dissolving assembly: The Governor has the power to recommend the dissolution of the state legislative assembly to the President of India in certain circumstances, such as when the government loses a vote of confidence.
    • Assent to bills: The Governor has the power to give assent to bills passed by the state legislature, or to withhold assent or reserve the bill for the President’s consideration.
    • Appointment of members of the Legislative Council: In states where the Legislative Council exists, the Governor has the power to appoint certain members of the council in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.
    • Assent to money bills: The Governor has the power to give assent to money bills passed by the state legislature, or to recommend amendments to such bills.

    Other important roles

    • Appointing the Chief Minister of a state: The Governor appoints the leader of the party or coalition that has a majority in the state legislative assembly as the Chief Minister.
    • Emergency powers: The Governor has the power to declare a state of emergency in the state, in case of a breakdown of law and order or a threat to the security of the state, on the advice of the Chief Minister or on his own.
    • Administering oaths to the Chief Minister and other Ministers: Governor administers oaths of office and secrecy to the Chief Minister and other Ministers.
    • Returning or withholding assent to bills passed by the Legislative Assembly: The Governor has the power to return a bill for reconsideration or withhold assent to it if he believes it to be unconstitutional or against the public interest.
    • Appointment of Judges: The Governor appoints judges to the High Court and other subordinate courts in the state in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court and the State Government.
    • Appointment of officials: The Governor appoints the Advocate General, Chairman and members of the State Public Service Commission, and other officials of the state.
    • Representing the state: The Governor represents the state at the Centre and participates in the meetings of the National Development Council and other forums.
    • Chancellor of Universities: The Governor is the Chancellor of state universities and is responsible for their overall administration.
    • Custodian of the Constitution: The Governor is the custodian of the Constitution in the state and is responsible for ensuring that the state government functions within the framework of the Constitution.

     

    Important Powers & Functions of Governor

    Legislative powers:

    • Article 356: Presidential rule in states

    o   It allows the President to take over the administration of a state if the President is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

    o   The President can impose President’s rule in a state on the advice of the Council of Ministers at the Centre, and appoint an Administrator to govern the state.

    o   The President’s rule can be in effect for a maximum of six months, after which it must be approved by the Parliament.

    • Article 365: Failure of constitutional machinery in states
      • If the President is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the government of a state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, the President may by Proclamation assume to himself all or any of the powers vested in or exercisable by the Governor or anybody or authority in the state.
      • The President’s rule can be in effect for a maximum of six months, after which it must be approved by the Parliament.

    Financial powers ((Article 207))

    • Advances: The Governor has the power to make advances out of the Contingency Fund of the State, to meet unforeseen expenditure.
    • Grants: The Governor is also empowered to make grants in anticipation of the Consolidated Fund of the State.
    • Emergency: The Governor may also authorize, in the case of urgent necessity, expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of the State before the grant of such expenditure has been voted by the State legislature.

    Veto powers

    • Veto on Ordinances: The Governor has the power to withhold assent to an ordinance issued by the state government or return it for reconsideration.
    • Veto on Bills: The Governor has the power to return a bill passed by the state legislature for reconsideration, or withhold assent to it if he believes it to be unconstitutional or against the public interest.
    • Veto on money bills: Governor can only make recommendations on money bills, if the recommendations are not accepted by the assembly, the bill is deemed to have been passed.
    • Veto on Resolutions: The Governor has the power to withhold assent to a resolution passed by the state legislature.
    • Veto on appointments: The Governor has the power to disapprove appointments made by the state government to certain offices such as Advocate General, Chairman, and members of the State Public Service Commission, and other officials of the state.

    Judicial powers:

    • Appointment of Judges: The Governor is responsible for the appointment of judges to the High Court and other subordinate courts in the state in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court and the State Government.
    • Pardoning powers: The Governor has 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 offense against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the state extends.
    • Granting of Parole: The Governor has the power to grant parole to any person sentenced to imprisonment by a court in the state.
    • Appointment of Acting Chief Justice: The Governor has the power to appoint an acting Chief Justice in case of a vacancy or absence of the Chief Justice of a High Court.
    • Appointment of Acting Judges: The Governor has the power to appoint acting judges in case of a vacancy or absence of regular judges in the High Court.

    NOTE:  Governor’s power in regard to judicial appointments is not absolute, and is subject to the advice of the Chief Justice of India and the President in some cases.

    Way Ahead

    • Although the governor has legislative, emergency and financial powers, it’s not meant to be used lightly and should be only in exceptional circumstances, as it can undermine the principles of federalism in India.
    • Thus, there is a need to maintain checks and balances between the state government and the governor’s office for smooth functioning of the state machinery and welfare of people at large. 

     Source: IE