Answer Synopsis 24/11/2020

Question : Enumerate the discretionary powers of the Governor mentioned in the Indian Constitution. Why is it said that the post of governor has become highly politicized?

Structure of the answer

  • Enumerate the discretionary powers of the governor.
  • Examine the factors that have led to the politicization of the governor’s post.

Synopsis

Article 153 of the Constitution requires that there shall be a Governor for each State appointed by the President, holding office during his pleasure.

Governor is titular head of state executive. But, he has more discretionary powers than President of India, as unlike President he is not bound by advice of the state’s cabinet. His discretionary powers are:

Constitutional discretion

  1. Reservation of a Bill for Consideration of the President;
  2. Recommendation for imposition of President’s Rule in State;
  3. Exercising his functions as administrator of an adjoining union territory.
  4. In the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram, Governor determines the amount payable to an autonomous Tribal District Council.
  5. Seeking information from Chief Minister with regard to administrative and legislative matters of the state.

Situational discretion

  • Appointing Chief Minister when no party has acquired clear cut majority in the State Legislative Assembly or when a Chief Minister dies when in office;
  • Dismissal of the Council of Ministers when they lose confidence of State Legislative Assembly;
  • Dissolution of Legislative Assembly.

Governor was expected to be the linchpin between Centre and states, but he has become a tool of Centre to interfere in the working of state governments. Hence, governor’s post has become one of the most politicized office. Some factors that have led to such a situation are:

  1. Governor appointed by Centre without security of tenure leading to reshuffling after each election.
  2. Wide discretionary powers of governor give him ample scope to act independently of elected state’s executive. Ex. Article 356.
  3. It was expected that Governors would be elderly statesmen; however, the post has become a spoils post.
  4. Legislature both at the Centre and state can’t impeach governor, giving him absolute patronage of central executive.

It is imminent that reforms be taken vis-à-vis this office. Implementing the recommendations of Sarkaria Commission, Punchi Commission etc. regarding his tenure, powers, impeachment among other issues would be a positive step. Governors on their part should realize their constitutional role rather than playing into partisan politics. The sooner these steps are taken the better it is, else the clamor to abolish it will further strengthen.

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