President’s Rule

Does India really need State Governors?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Office of the Governor

Mains level: Read the attached story

Central Idea

  • The recent termination of a state minister’s appointment by Tamil Nadu Governor R N Ravi has sparked renewed debates on the role and necessity of Governors in Indian states.
  • While conflicts between state governments and the Governor’s office are not new, it is important to examine the position of the Governor and its constitutional implications.

Who is a State Governor?

  • In India, the position of State Governors is established by the Constitution of India.
  • The constitutional provisions regarding State Governors can be found primarily in Articles 153 to 162 of the Indian Constitution.

Here are the key aspects of the constitutional position of State Governors in India:

  • Appointment: The Governor of a state is appointed by the President of India. The President acts on the advice of the Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister.
  • Executive Power: The Governor is the head of the state executive and exercises executive powers on behalf of the President. The Governor is the representative of the President at the state level.
  • Constitutional Head: The Governor acts as the constitutional head of the state and performs ceremonial functions such as the opening and closing of the state legislature, giving assent to bills, and issuing ordinances.
  • Administrative Role: The Governor plays a crucial role in the administration of the state. The Governor appoints the CM and other members of the Council of Ministers, as well as certain high-ranking state officials.

Powers and Functions

  • Legislative Functions: The Governor has a role in the legislative process. The Governor summons and prorogues the state legislature, addresses the legislature at the beginning of its first session after each general election, and gives assent to bills passed by the state legislature.
  • Discretionary Powers: The Governor has certain discretionary powers. For example, the Governor can reserve certain bills passed by the state legislature for the consideration of the President. The Governor can also withhold assent to bills under certain circumstances.
  • Emergency Powers: In cases of breakdown of constitutional machinery in a state, the Governor can recommend the imposition of President’s Rule, where the state government is temporarily suspended, and the Governor acts as the executive head of the state.
  • Link with Central Government: The Governor serves as a vital link between the state government and the central government. The Governor communicates with the President and the central government on various matters related to the state.

Arguments for the Existence of the Governor’s Post

  • Preservation of Provincial Autonomy: The Constituent Assembly aimed to maintain the Governor as the constitutional representative of states in post-independence India.
  • Need for Centralization and Impartiality: Supporters argue that a certain level of centralized power is essential for a developing nation like India, and the Governor ensures impartiality in governance.
  • Continuity and Stability: The Governor’s presence provides stability and continuity in governance, and they play a significant role in administering oaths and delivering inaugural addresses.

Arguments against the Governor’s Post

  • Interference and Politicization: Critics claim that Governors often interfere in the functioning of state governments, especially those led by opposing political parties, leading to politicization of the office.
  • Lack of Impartiality: Concerns arise about the impartiality of Governors appointed from political backgrounds, potentially influencing their decisions and actions.
  • Redundancy and Inefficiency: Some argue that the role of the Governor can be carried out by alternative mechanisms, and the office incurs unnecessary expenditure.

Supreme Court’s Stand and Judicial Review

  • Limited Powers and Aid-Advice: The Supreme Court has established that Governors are required to exercise their powers upon the aid and advice of their ministers, except in exceptional circumstances.
  • Judicial Oversight: Through landmark cases, the Supreme Court has set limits on gubernatorial powers, ensuring their actions adhere to the Constitution and the law.

Recommendations by Commissions and Committees

  • Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC): The ARC, in its report in 1969, emphasized harmonious relations between Governors and state governments, suggesting enhanced cooperation and limited interference.
  • Sarkaria Commission (1983): The commission proposed modifications to augment the responsibilities and influence of Governors while emphasizing impartiality and fixed tenures.
  • Punchhi Commission (2010): Recommendations included consultation with the Chief Minister during the appointment of Governors and expanding their responsibilities in specific areas.
  • Other Proposals: Various recommendations have been made, such as appointing Governors through a collegium, limiting their role to ceremonial duties, or abolishing the post in smaller states or union territories.


  • The debate surrounding the role of Governors in Indian states continues to evolve.
  • While arguments for the existence of the Governor’s post revolve around preserving provincial autonomy, centralization, and stability, critics highlight concerns of interference, politicization, and redundancy.
  • Judicial oversight and recommendations from commissions and committees have aimed to strike a balance between the Governor’s constitutional responsibilities and the need for impartiality.

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