Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Governor’s Address: Insights from R. Venkataraman’s Perspective


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: President's/Governor's Address

Mains level: Significance of the address


  • The recent episode in the Tamil Nadu Assembly, where Governor R.N. Ravi declined to deliver the customary address, has reignited debates surrounding the significance of the Governor’s Address.
  • He actually walked out in response to an insult of National Anthem in TN Assembly.

President’s/Governor’s Address

  • Constitutional mandate: Articles 87 and 176 of the Constitution confer authority upon the President and Governor, respectively, to address the legislature.
  • Occasions for Address: The addresses are reserved for two specific occasions: the commencement of a new legislative session post-election and the inauguration of the annual legislative session.
  • Significance: Termed the President’s or Governor’s Address, these speeches are pivotal for initiating legislative proceedings.

Governor’s Address to the State Legislature: A Constitutional Obligation

  • Prescribed Duties: Article 176 delineates the Governor’s obligation to address the Legislative Assembly at the onset of each legislative year and post-general elections, with both Houses convened if a Legislative Council exists.
  • Procedural Norms: Established rules govern the time allocated for deliberating the address’s contents, ensuring parliamentary discourse.

Global Parallels: Similar Practices across Democracies

  • Cross-National Comparison: Analogous provisions are observed in democratic nations worldwide.
  • State of the Union: In the United States, it manifests as the “State of the Union” address (1790), while in the United Kingdom, it is the Queen’s Speech (1536), heralding the parliamentary year’s commencement.
  • Indian Context: India’s Presidential Address mirrors the British model, reflecting the ceremonial role of the President, a sentiment echoed during the Constitution’s framing by Dr. B R Ambedkar.

Features of the Address Content

[A] Address Content: Proposals and Achievements

  • Legislative Agenda: The President’s or Governor’s speech encapsulates legislative proposals and government policy initiatives, coupled with a retrospective glance at previous accomplishments.
  • Government Input: Inputs for this address are curated from various government ministries, embodying the administration’s agenda.

[B] Authorship and Agency: Government Responsibility

  • Constitutional Mandate: Governed by constitutional mandate, both the President and Governor are obligated to adhere to the Cabinet’s advice (1950) in their functions, including address preparation.
  • Policy Reflection: Hence, the address is meticulously crafted by the government, serving as a reflection of its policy stance.

[C] Flexibility vs. Normative Adherence: Presidential/Governor Discretion

  • Adherence to Protocol: While refusal to deliver the address is impermissible, deviations from the prepared script are permissible.
  • Instances of Departure: Instances of Governors veering off the scripted path have transpired, although such actions remain rare for Presidents.

Judicial Pronouncement: Upholding Constitutional Framework

  • Legal Precedent: The Supreme Court, in Shamsher Singh v. State of Punjab (1975), underscored the President’s (or Governor’s) adherence to Cabinet advice across functions.
  • Contested Discretion: While discretion to modify the speech is contested, any departure from parliamentary norms may invoke debate.

R. Venkataraman’s Perspective

  • Venkataraman’s Critique: R. Venkataraman, who served as President from 1987 to 1992, vehemently opposed the practice of Presidential and Governor’s addresses, deeming it a “British anachronism” and a “meaningless formality.”
  • Calls for Constitutional Amendment: Venkataraman repeatedly urged PM Rajiv Gandhi and Chandra Shekher to abolish this tradition through a Constitutional amendment, emphasizing its lack of relevance and inherent biases.

Perceptions of the Address

  • Government’s Voice: Venkataraman viewed the address as a mere reflection of the ruling regime’s perspectives, rendering Presidents and Governors mere “mouthpieces” devoid of independent expression.
  • Controversies and Criticism: He expressed dismay over controversies surrounding Governors’ addresses in states like Maharashtra and West Bengal, condemning the opposition’s heckling of figures like Governor Nurul Hasan.
  • Symbolic Adjustments: Venkataraman, in presenting his maiden Presidential address in 1988, advocated for subtle changes like replacing “My government” with “The government,” aligning with India’s constitutional ethos framed by the people.
  • Legacy of British Colonialism: He underscored the incongruity of retaining British-era conventions in India’s democratic framework, emphasizing the need for symbolic adjustments to reflect the nation’s sovereignty.


  • Symbol of Governance: The tradition of Presidential and Governor’s addresses, rooted in constitutional mandate, and symbolizes the fusion of ceremonial protocol with legislative functionality.
  • Executive-Legislative Nexus: As integral components of democratic governance, these addresses underscore the synergy between executive authority and parliamentary accountability, while navigating the delicate balance between tradition and evolving norms.

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