The Role of the Governor (Discretionary Power and Appointment Issues), Reservation of Bills for Consideration of President

Role of the Governor

The Governor is appointed by the President of India for five years. But he remains in the office till the pleasure of the President. It means, he can be recalled any time and his continuation in the office depends at the will of the Centre.

The Supreme Court has held that the Governor’s office is an independent office and neither it is under control nor subordinate to the Government of India.

However, a study of Governors in the States clearly exposes that most of them have been active politicians before becoming Governor and the rest were bureaucrats. They are appointed on political basis and therefore hardly expected to play a non-partisan role

It is the Governor’s biased role that has been the center point in Union-State skirmishes. The Governors have advanced the political interests of the ruling party of the Centre in the States.

This has been done most remarkably in the appointment of Chief Ministers, summoning, proroguing and dissolving the State Assemblies and in recommending President’s rule.

Besides the normal functions which Governor exercises as a constitutional head, he exercises certain discretionary powers. Some of them have been particularly conferred on him while some others flow by necessary implication.

These are significant particularly in the following cases:

  • One is with regard to the appointment of Chief Minister when neither a single party nor a combination of parties emerges from the election with a clear majority. In this situation, there is a question of dismissal of Chief Minister on the loss of majority support or otherwise.
  • The second is with regard to making a report to President under Article 356 about this satisfaction that a situation has risen in which the Government of the State cannot be carried according to the provisions of the Constitution. Thereby recommending the imposition of President’s rule, the issue of declaration of President’s rule itself has become a matter of serious tension between union and state governments.

Reservation of Bills for Consideration of President

According to the Article 200 of the Constitution, certain types of bills passed by the State legislature may be reserved by the Governor for the consideration of the President.

The President may either give his acceptance or may direct the Governor to send it back for reconsideration by the State legislature along with his comments.

But even after the bill has been passed by the State legislature for the second time, the President is not bound to give his assent. The main purpose of this provision is that the Centre can observe the legislation in the national interest.

But Governors, and through them the Central Government have used this provision to serve the partisan interests.

The opposition reigned States have from time to time raised a tone and shout against the misuse of these provisions. This has specially been the case where the Governor has reserved a bill against the advice of the State Ministry, presumably under the direction of the Central Government.

In its memorandum to Sarkaria Commission, the Bharatiya Janata Party alleged that the bills have been reserved for consideration of the President in order to create difficulties for the State governments.

The West Bengal government in its reply to the Sarkaria Commission’s questionnaire felt that Articles 200 and 201 either should be deleted or Constitution should clarify that the Governor would not act in his discretion but only on the advice of the State Council Ministers.

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By B2B

Revisiting the Basics

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