Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Raj Bhavan needs radical reforms


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 155

Mains level: conduct of Governors in Opposition-ruled States

Kerala Conundrum: As Arif Khan 'Withdraws Pleasure' in FM, News18 Decodes  if Guv Can Sack a Minister - News18

Central Idea:

The conduct of Governors in Opposition-ruled States, exemplified by the recent actions of Kerala’s Governor, raises concerns about adherence to constitutional morality, necessitating a reevaluation of their roles and legal consequences.

Key Highlights:

  • Kerala’s Governor, Arif Mohammed Khan, faced criticism for instructing the removal of posters and accusing the Chief Minister of supporting activists against him.
  • Breaches of protocol, such as an unannounced tour of Kozhikode, added to the growing trend of Governors’ controversial actions.
  • While the Constitution outlines functions, powers, and duties of Governors, the concept of constitutional morality should guide their public behavior.
  • Reference to NCT of Delhi v. Union of India highlights the responsibility of individuals occupying constitutional offices.
  • Article 361 provides limited immunity for Governors, exempting them from court scrutiny for official acts.
  • Rameshwar Prasad v. Union of India establishes judicial review for cases of Governor’s motivated and whimsical conduct, suggesting accountability.
  • Kaushal Kishor v. State of Uttar Pradesh clarifies that public functionaries’ freedom of expression is subject to reasonable restrictions.
  • Ministers can be held personally liable for statements inconsistent with government views, emphasizing personal responsibility.
  • Sarkaria Commission Report (1988) criticized Governors for lacking impartiality and becoming agents of the Union, emphasizing the need for detachment.
  • Justice M.M. Punchhi Commission (2010) recommended restricting Governors from roles not envisaged by the Constitution, citing potential controversies.

Key Challenges:

  • Governors’ failure to display impartiality and sagacity, engaging in local politics and controversies.
  • Lack of adherence to recommendations for detached roles and limitations on Governors’ powers.

Key Terms and Phrases:

  • Constitutional morality
  • Limited immunity (Article 361)
  • Judicial review
  • Chancellorship of universities
  • Sarkaria Commission
  • Punchhi Commission
  • Democratic legitimacy
  • Raj Bhavans

Key Quotes:

  • “Constitutional morality places responsibilities and duties on individuals who occupy constitutional institutions and offices.” – NCT of Delhi v. Union of India (2018)
  • “Some Governors have failed to display the qualities of impartiality and sagacity expected of them.” – Sarkaria Commission Report (1988)
  • “The Governor should be a detached figure and not too intimately connected with the local politics of the State.” – Justice M.M. Punchhi Commission report (2010)

Key Statements:

  • Judicial review possible for Governor’s misbehavior unconnected with official duty.
  • Sarkaria and Punchhi Commission reports emphasize the need for Governors’ impartiality and limited involvement in local politics.
  • Kerala Assembly’s attempt to abolish Governor’s chancellorship raises concerns about democratic legitimacy.

Critical Analysis:

  • The Governor’s actions in Kerala highlight a deviation from democratic norms and raise questions about the democratic legitimacy of gubernatorial decisions.
  • Commission reports expose longstanding issues with Governor appointments and their roles, calling for systemic changes.

Way Forward:

  • Future regimes should consider amending Article 155 to ensure Chief Minister consultation in Governor appointments, addressing recommendations from the Sarkaria report.
  • Establishment of an independent body for Governor selection, with input from the Chief Justice of India, may enhance the quality of the selection process.
  • Legal prohibitions against Governors’ further rehabilitation in official capacities could contribute to improving the functioning of Raj Bhavans.

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