Anti Defection Law

Governor’s Discretionary Powers in Assembly Deadlock

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Discretionary powers of Governor

Mains level : Speaker vs Governor Tussle

A Constitution Bench judgment of the Supreme Court has held that a Governor is bound to convene a meeting of the Assembly for a floor test on the recommendation of the Cabinet.

Try this question for mains:

Q. “Time and again, the courts have spoken out against the Governor acting in the capacity of an all-pervading super-constitutional authority.” Analyse.

Resolving the deadlock

  • The judgment is significant in the present deadlock between the CM and the Governor over the summoning of an Assembly session for a floor test.
  • The Governor can summon, prorogue and dissolve the House only on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister as the head.

The Nabam Rebia Case

  • The five-judge Constitution Bench judgment of the Supreme Court cited the Nabam Rebia versus Deputy Speaker on July 13, 2016.
  • It held that a Governor cannot employ his ‘discretion’, and should strictly abide by the “aid and advice” of the Cabinet to summon the House.
  • It held that the discretionary power of the Governor is extremely limited and entirely liable to judicial review.
  • The judgment was a consequence of then Arunachal Pradesh Governor J.P. Rajkhowa’s decision to advance the Assembly session, a move which led to unrest in the State and resulted in the President’s rule.
  • The Constitution Bench held Mr. Rajkhowa’s decision to be a violation of the Constitution.

Governor’s discretion: Limited to specified areas

  • The Supreme Court highlighted that Article 163 of the Constitution does not give the Governor a “general discretionary power to act against or without the advice of his Council of Ministers.
  • The court said the Governor’s discretionary powers are limited to specified areas like giving assent or withholding/referring a Bill to the President or appointment of a CM or dismissal of a government which has lost of confidence but refuses to quit, etc.

Back2Basics: Governor’s Discretionary Powers

The governor can use his/her discretionary powers:

  • When no party gets a clear majority, the governor has the discretion to choose a candidate for the chief minister who will put together a majority coalition as soon as possible.
  • He can impose president’s rule.
  • He submits reports on his own to the president or on the direction of the president regarding the affairs of the state.
  • He can withhold his assent to a bill and send it to the president for his approval.
  • During emergency rule per Article 353, he can override the advice of the council of ministers if specifically permitted by the president.
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