President’s Rule

Administration of Oath in State Legislature


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Administration of Oath in State Legislature

  • Former Maharashtra CM has alleged that the oath-taking ceremony of the new government had violated the Constitution.
  • He was referring to the invocation of names of various personalities at the start of the oath, before reading out the text, which he alleged had altered the oath itself.

Administration of Oath

  • Article 164(3) says: “Before a Minister enters upon his office, the Governor shall administer to him the oaths of office and of secrecy according to the forms set out for the purpose in the Third Schedule.
  • The Third Schedule requires the taker of the oath to either “swear in the name of God” or to “solemnly affirm” to “bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution…”.
  • According to constitutional experts and those familiar with procedures and rules of swearing-in ceremonies, Art 164 makes it clear that the text of the oath is sacrosanct, and the person taking the oath has to read it out exactly as it is, in the given format.
  • If a person wanders from the text, it is the responsibility of the person administering the oath — in this instance the Governor — to interrupt and ask the person being sworn in to read it out correctly.

Role of the Governor

  • The Governor’s approval is key. If the person administering the oath approves the oath, the matter is closed.
  • Immediately on taking the oath, the person who has been sworn in, must sign a register.
  • The register is attested by the Secretary to the Governor, which means it has been approved by the Governor.
  • Ultimately it is the responsibility of the Chair, the functionary administering the oath, in this case the Governor.
  • Once Governor takes it as read, and the Secretary to the Governor has attested that the oath has been administered, and the gazette notification has come out, then it is no longer an issue.
  • It cannot be legally challenged a/c to a former Rajya Sabha Secretary General.

Instances of deviation

  • The most famous case of a political leader changing the oath was in 1989, when Devi Lal inserted the words “Deputy Prime Minister” as he was being sworn in to Prime Minister V P Singh’s cabinet.
  • He was immediately corrected by President R Venkataraman.
  • The practice of invoking gods, national leaders, reformers, while administering the oath of office can be termed as immature, as it detracts from the importance of the oath.
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