Tussle between Elected and Appointed Representative


    In News

    • Recently, the Kerala Governor warned ministers of removal who tried to lower the dignity of his office.

    About the recent controversy 

    • The Constitution does not give the Governor “dictatorial powers” to remove the ministers.
      • There has been no occasion so far of a Governor unilaterally removing a minister from the government. 
    • Major Issues:
      • Governor’s allegedly refused to give assent to University Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2022, which was passed by the Assembly this year. 
        • The Bill had given an upper hand to the state government in the selection of vice-chancellors of the universities in Kerala. 
      • The Governor should return the Bill for reconsideration instead of withholding his approval indefinitely

    Role of Governor in the parliamentary system

    • Articles 153-161: The position, role, powers, and conditions of office of the Governor are described in Articles 153-161 of the Constitution.
    • The position of Governor is similar to that of the President at the Union.
      • He is at the head of the state’s executive power, and barring some matters, acts on the advice of the council of ministers, which is responsible to the state legislature. 
    • Acts as a link: The Governor is appointed by the President (on the advice of the central government) and, therefore, acts as the vital link between the Union and the state governments.
    • Powers: The Governor enjoys certain powers such as giving or withholding assent to a Bill passed by the state legislature or determining the time needed for a party to prove its majority or which party must be called first to do so, generally after in a hung Assembly.
    • Article 164(1): It deals with the appointment of the Chief Minister and other ministers. 
      • While the Governor does not have to seek anyone’s advice while appointing the Chief Minister, he can appoint a minister only on the recommendation of the Chief Minister. 
      • The Supreme Court had on many occasions held that a government that enjoys a majority in the House cannot be dismissed by the Governor.
        • Thus, if the government enjoys a majority in the House, the Governor cannot say that he withdraws his pleasure.
      • The pleasure of the Governor is co-terminus with the majority in the House.  

    Related cases

    • Shamsher Singh & Anr vs State Of Punjab (1974)
      • A seven-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court said: “We declare the law of this branch of our Constitution to be that the President and Governor, custodians of all executive and other powers under various Articles, shall, by virtue of these provisions, exercise their formal constitutional powers only upon and in accordance with the advice of their Ministers save in a few well known exceptional situations.” 
    • In Nabam Rebia And Etc. vs Deputy Speaker And Ors (2016)
      • 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 I think the House will do well to bear in mind this distinction.”

    What does the “pleasure” of the Governor mean?

    • This does not mean the Governor has the right to dismiss the Chief Minister or ministers at will.
      • The Governor can have his pleasure as long as the government enjoys a majority in the House. 
      • The Governor can withdraw his pleasure only when the government loses majority but refuses to quit. Then he withdraws the pleasure and dismisses it. 

    Way forward/ Suggestions 

    • The National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution appointed by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 2000 recommended significant changes in the selection of Governors.
      • The Commission suggested that the Governor of a State should be appointed by the President, after consultation with the Chief Minister of that State.
      • Normally the five year term should be adhered to and removal or transfer of the Governor should be by following a similar procedure as for appointment i.e., after consultation with the Chief Minister of the concerned State.
    • The Sarkaria Commission
      • That was set up in 1983 to look into Centre-state relations, and proposed that the Vice President of India and Speaker of Lok Sabha should be consulted by the Prime Minister in the selection of Governors.
    • The Justice Madan Mohan Punchhi Committee
      • That was constituted in 2007 and proposed in its report that a committee comprising the Prime Minister, Home Minister, Vice President, Speaker, and the concerned Chief Minister should choose the Governor.
      • It recommended deleting the Doctrine of Pleasure from the Constitution, but backed the right of the Governor to sanction the prosecution of ministers against the advice of the state government. 
      • It also argued for a provision for impeachment of the Governor by the state legislature. 

    Source: IE