Governor’s role in Floor Test


    In News

    • Recently, Supreme Court hearing cases filed in the wake of the Shiv Sena political crisis  asked whether the Governor can call for a floor test in case of internal dissatisfaction within a party.


    • The position of governor from the time of independence has been under spotlight for issues like criteria of selection, Misuse of power, Favouritism, involvement in the affairs of the elected government etc.

    Floor Test

    • A floor test is primarily taken to know whether the executive enjoys the confidence of the legislature. 
    • This happens both in the Parliament and the State Legislative Assemblies.
    • It is a constitutional mechanism under which a Chief Minister appointed by the Governor can be asked to prove majority on the floor of the Legislative Assembly of the state. 

    Constitutional Provisions

    • Article 175(2) of the Indian Constitution: It gives the Governor the power to summon the members of the House and call for a floor test to prove whether the incumbent government has the majority in the State Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha). 
      • On the central or national level, this power lies with the President.
    • Article 163 of the Indian Constitution: However, the Governor can exercise the above only as per Article 163 of the Constitution which says that the Governor acts on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister.
    • Article 164 of the Indian constitution: It states that, “The council of ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Legislative Assembly of the State.” 
      • And so, if they do not enjoy the Legislature’s support, the Executive has to step down.

    Supreme Court Recommendations

    The Supreme court has over the years clarified powers and functions of the governor in a number of cases, some of them and their recommendations are given below.

    • Sr Bommai Judgement 
      • Stated that discretion of Governor does not apply to hung assembly,
      • Laid emphasis on floor test in the house within 48 hours (although it can be extended to 15 days) so that legislature should decide the matter and Governor’s discretion should merely be a triggering point.
    • Rameshwar Prasad Judgement
      • Opined that A Governor cannot shut out post-poll alliances altogether as one of the ways in which a popular government may be formed.
      • Unsubstantiated claims of horse-trading or corruption in efforts at government formation cannot be cited as reasons to dissolve the Assembly.
    • Shamsher Singh Judgement
      • In this case, a seven-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court said that the President and Governor, custodians of all executive and other powers under various Articles, shall exercise their formal constitutional powers only upon and in accordance with the advice of their Ministers save in a few well-known exceptional situations.
    • Nabam Rebia Judgement
      • In this case, the Supreme Court cited the observations of B R Ambedkar: “The Governor under the Constitution has no function which he can discharge by himself; no functions at all. While he has no functions, he has certain duties to perform, and the House will do well to bear in mind this distinction.”
      • SC ruled that Article 163 of the Constitution does not give the Governor a general discretionary power to act against or without the advice of his Council of Ministers.

    Various committees Recommendations

    • Apart from the Supreme court Various committees have looked into the role of Governor .some of recommendations  are:
      • Sarkaria Commission Report (1988):
        • Governor should be a detached figure without intense political links or should not have taken part in politics in recent past, 
        • Governors must not be removed before completion of their five-year tenure, except in rare and compelling circumstances
      • Venkatachaliah Commission (2002):
        • Governor’s appointment should be entrusted to a committee comprising the prime minister, the home minister, the speaker of the Lok Sabha and the chief minister of the concerned state. 
        • If the governor has  to be removed before completion of term, the central government should do so only after consultation with the Chief Minister.
      • Punchhi Commission (2010): 
        • The phrase “during the pleasure of the President” should be deleted from the Constitution; “Governor should be removed only by a resolution of the state legislature.