From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Office of governor, appointment and associated facts.
Mains level : Issues with the office of the governor
- With the rise in instances of tension, and even standoffs, between State governments and Governors, there is once again a debate on the role of the Raj Bhavan and conduct of Governors, the relation of Governors with the Centre and State government, and whether Chief Ministers should have a say in the appointment of Governors in their respective States.
- Executive Powers:
- Nominal Head of the government: These powers are exercised by the council of ministers in the name of Governor. Hence Governor is only nominal head and council of ministers is the real executive.
- Head of the state: He is the constitutional head of the state who appoints the leader of majority party as chief minister. He can seek any information from the chief minister. He appoints the advocate general, chairman and members of the respective state public commission.
- Can recommend the emergency: He can recommend the imposition of constitutional emergency in a state to the President. During the period of President’s rule in a state, the governor enjoys extensive executive powers as an agent of the President.
- Legislative Powers:
- He is part of state legislative.
- No bill can become a law until the governor signs it.
- He can withhold a bill and send it to the President for consideration.
- He can dissolve the State Assembly before the expiry of its term on the advice of the Chief Minister or as directed by the President.
- He causes the annual Budget to be presented in the Vidhan Sabha.
- Judicial Powers:
- The governor appoints the district judges.
- He is consulted in the appointment of the judges of the High Court by the President
- He can, pardon, remit and commute the sentence of a person convicted by a state court.
- Financial Powers:
- He causes the annual budget to be laid before the Vidhan Sabha;
- No money bill can be introduced without his prior approval.
- Discretionary Powers:
- Selection of CM: If no party gets an absolute majority, the Governor can use his discretion in the selection of the Chief Minister;
- Real executive of state: During an emergency he can override the advice of the council of ministers. At such times, he acts as an agent of the President and becomes the real ruler of the state;
- Report to president: He uses his direction in submitting a report to the President regarding the affairs of the state; and
- Withhold the assent: He can withhold his assent to a bill and send it to the President for his approval.
Sarkaria commission’s recommendation on the role of governor
- Chief minister should be involved in appointment: The powers of the President in the matter of selection and appointment of Governors should not be diluted. However, the Governor of a State should be appointed by the President only after consultation with the Chief Minister of that State. Normally the five-year term should be adhered to and removal or transfer should be by following a similar procedure as for appointment i.e., after consultation with the Chief Minister of the concerned State.
- Governor should convey assent or dissent in time: There should be a time-limit say a period of six months within which the Governor should take a decision whether to grant assent or to reserve a Bill for consideration of the President. If the Bill is reserved for consideration of the President, there should be a time-limit, say of three months, within which the President should take a decision whether to accord his assent or to direct the Governor to return it to the State Legislature or to seek the opinion of the Supreme Court regarding the constitutionality of the Act under article 143.
Additional suggestions by NCRWC
- Committee to appoint the governor: National commission to review the Working of the constitution (NCRWC) recommendations were similar to that of Sarkaria commission. NCRWC has suggested that a committee consisting of the Prime Minister, Home Minister, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, and the Chief Minister of the state in question shall nominate the Governor.
Know the basics: Present constitutional arrangement
- The Governor of a State is appointed by the President for a term of five years and holds office during his pleasure.
- Only Indian citizens above 35 years of age are eligible for appointment to this office.
What is the expert’s opinion?
- Vice-president should be involved: Total composition of the committee is of the ruling party at the Centre. It should be the Vice-President, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the Leader of the Opposition, and maybe the Chief Minister of the State.
- Governor should be above the chief minister: Getting the Chief Minister involved in the process of selection is not right. The Governor cannot be made to feel that the Chief Minister was one of those responsible for his selection; the Governor has to be above the Chief Minister, be independent, be able to function in a nonpartisan manner, and not be beholden to the ruling party or to the Chief Minister.
- Minimum qualification to be the governor: we have no criteria, no minimum qualifications laid out for a Governor. These are often retirement perks or rewards for unstinting loyalty to a particular party. Governors cannot be called before a court of law. These are things which have to be kept in mind.
- A guide to chief minister: The Governor is supposed to be a friend, philosopher and guide, helping from the back, sorting out issues and resolving disputes, even between political parties. The Governor has to at times advise the Centre on what is happening and what needs to be done. That brings the Centre and the State together.
- Governors’ role is always in contestation when Centre and state have different government. Governor is a political appointee for political purpose. However, governor should respect the constitutional post he holds and perform his duties and responsibilities without any biases and affiliations.
Q. What actions of governors undermines his constitutional position? What are the recommendations of Sarkaria commissions regarding the governor’s office?