President’s Rule

The Tussle Between Chief Ministers and Governors: Preserving the Sanctity of Legislative Processes


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: provisions related to Governors and power to assent bills

Mains level: Issues between Chief Ministers and Governors


Central Idea

  • Issues have recently surfaced in several states regarding the delay in the passage of Bills, leading to conflicts between Chief Ministers and Governors. This situation poses a challenge for parliamentary democracies, where governments are elected to enact laws that reflect the will of the people. Inability to legislate effectively can potentially result in a breakdown of the democratic system.

Who is Governor?

  • Parallel to President: The Governors of the states of India have similar powers and functions at the state level as those of the President of India at the Central level.
  • Nominal head: The governor acts as the nominal head whereas the real power lies with the Chief Ministers of the states and her/his councils of ministers.
  • Similar offices: Governors exist in the states while Lieutenant Governors or Administrators exist in union territories including the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
  • Non-local appointees: Few or no governors are local to the state that they are appointed to govern.

The Role of the Governor in the state

  • Constitutional Head: The Governor serves as the constitutional head of the state and represents the President at the state level.
  • Executive Functions: The Governor appoints the Chief Minister, who is usually the leader of the majority party in the Legislative Assembly. The Governor also appoints other members of the Council of Ministers on the advice of the Chief Minister.
  • Legislative Functions: The Governor summons and prorogues sessions of the Legislative Assembly, and can also dissolve the Legislative Assembly if necessary. The Governor addresses the Legislative Assembly at the beginning of each session, highlighting the government’s policies and priorities.
  • Assenting to Bills: The Governor plays a crucial role in the legislative process by giving or withholding assent to bills passed by the Legislative Assembly. The Governor can also return a bill with recommendations for reconsideration by the Legislative Assembly.
  • Discretionary Powers: The Governor can exercise certain discretionary powers, such as referring a bill to the President if it affects the powers of the High Court or if it involves a matter of public interest. The Governor may also exercise discretion in situations where the Constitution expressly permits independent action.
  • Judicial Functions: The Governor appoints the Chief Justice and other judges of the High Court in consultation with the Chief Justice of India and the state’s Chief minister. The Governor also has the power to grant pardons, reprieves, and remissions of punishment.
  • Diplomatic Functions: The Governor represents the state in its relations with other states in India and performs ceremonial duties as the representative of the state.
  • Emergency Powers: In times of emergency or breakdown of constitutional machinery in the state, the Governor can assume additional powers to maintain law and order and ensure the smooth functioning of the government.
  • Interaction with the Central Government: The Governor acts as a link between the state government and the central government. They communicate state-related matters to the President and seek the President’s advice on various issues

Constitutional Provision Regarding Governor

  • Article 153: Provides a Governor for each State, and by virtue of Article 154, the executive power of the State shall be vested in the Governor “Shall be exercised by him directly or through officers subordinate to him in accordance with this Constitution”.
  • Article 154(2)(a): Prohibits the Governor from exercising any function “conferred by existing law on any other Authority.
  • Article 163: Categorically provides that “there shall be a council of ministers with the Chief Minister at the head to aid and advise the Governor. except in so far as he is by or under this Constitution required to exercise his function or any of them in his discretion”


Governor’s Power to Assent the Bill

According to Article 200:

  • Assenting to Bills: When a bill is presented to the Governor, they have three options: to give their assent, to withhold their assent, or to return the bill with recommendations for reconsideration.
  • Returning the Bill: If the Governor decides to return the bill, they can do so with a message to the Legislative Assembly, requesting them to reconsider the bill wholly or partially. However, this provision applies only to bills that are not Money Bills.
  • Timeframe for Reconsideration: The Legislative Assembly has a period of six months to decide whether or not to accept the Governor’s recommendations. If the bill is returned to the Governor and the Legislative Assembly accepts the recommendations, the Governor is obliged to give their assent to the bill.
  • Discretionary Referral to the President: The Governor also has the discretion to refer a bill to the President if they believe that the bill, if enacted, would encroach upon the powers of the High Court. In such cases, the procedure for obtaining the President’s assent is outlined in Article 201 of the Constitution

Judicial Review over the Governor’s Autonomy

  • Constitutionality of Actions: The judiciary has the authority to review the actions of the Governor and determine whether they are consistent with the provisions of the Constitution. If the Governor acts in a manner that exceeds their constitutional powers or violates constitutional provisions, the judiciary can intervene and declare such actions as unconstitutional.
  • Exercise of Discretionary Powers: The Governor’s discretionary powers, as granted by the Constitution, are subject to judicial review. If the Governor’s exercise of discretion is found to be arbitrary, unreasonable, or against constitutional principles, the judiciary can intervene and provide necessary remedies.
  • Violation of Fundamental Rights: If the actions or decisions of the Governor infringe upon the fundamental rights of individuals or groups, the judiciary can review such violations and ensure that constitutional rights are protected. The courts can examine whether the Governor’s actions are in accordance with the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution and take appropriate measures to safeguard these rights.
  • Compliance with Constitutional Procedures: The judiciary can review whether the Governor has followed the prescribed constitutional procedures in exercising their powers. This includes assessing whether the Governor has properly considered the advice of the Council of Ministers, followed the constitutional provisions regarding assenting to bills, or adhered to procedural requirements in making appointments or taking other actions.
  • Limits on Discretion: Judicial review ensures that the Governor’s discretion is not absolute and subject to constitutional limitations. If the Governor’s actions are found to be beyond their constitutional powers, the judiciary can nullify such actions and provide appropriate remedies.
  • Review of Delayed Actions: If the Governor unduly delays taking action on a bill or any other matter, the judiciary can review such delays to ensure that they are not in violation of constitutional principles. If the delay is deemed unreasonable or unjustified, the courts can intervene and direct the Governor to fulfill their constitutional obligations within a reasonable time frame



  • The issues between Chief Ministers and Governors regarding the passing of Bills highlight the need to preserve the integrity of parliamentary democracy. The Governor’s role is to act on the advice of the Council of Ministers, and their discretion is limited. Judicial review ensures constitutional adherence and protects democratic principles.

Interesting to read

Constituent Assembly Debate and Ideal Conduct of Governor


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