Appointment of Governor of State

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What’s in today’s article?

  • Why in News?
  • Office of Governor
  • Constitutional Provisions Related to the Office of Governor
  • Functioning of the Governor’s Office over the Years
  • Reforming the Office of the Governor
  • News Summary Regarding Resignation by Punjab Governor

Why in News?

  • A day after he met the Union Home Minister in Delhi, Punjab Governor and Chandigarh Administrator Banwarilal Purohit resigned citing “personal reasons”.

Office of Governor

  • Everything related to the office of Governor (appointment, powers, etc) have been discussed under Part VI (Article 153 to Article 162) of the Indian Constitution.
  • It is stated that the Governor has a dual role - s/he is the constitutional head of state (bound by the advice of his council of ministers) and s/he functions as a vital link between the Union and the State govt.

Constitutional Provisions Related to the Office of Governor

  • Article 153: There shall be a Governor for each State and the same person can be the Governor for two/more States.
    • The second part was added by the 7th Constitutional Amendment Act 1956.
  • Article 155: Governor of a State shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal.
  • Article 156:
    • The Governor shall hold office during the pleasure of the President, but his normal term of office will be five years.
    • The Governor may, by writing under his hand addressed to the President, resign his office.

Functioning of the Governor’s Office over the Years

  • Because the President acts with the aid and assistance of the Prime Minister and the Union Council of Ministers, the Governor is appointed and removed by the central government.
  • The Governor enjoys certain discretionary powers under the Constitution (Article 163), such as giving or withholding assent to a Bill passed by the state legislature, etc.
    • These discretionary powers have resulted in friction with the state government.
  • As a result, Governors have been seen as acting on the behest of the central government/ as an agent of the Centre, especially by those in opposition.

Reforming the Office of the Governor

  • The Supreme Court has time and again (in Shamsher Singh, SR Bommai, Nabam Rebia cases) reiterated that the office of the Governor should be independent on account of its high constitutional importance.
    • Recently, the courts have also held that constitutional morality requires high functionaries to sort out their differences and behave responsibly to better serve the citizens.
    • This would require clearly laying down the norms.
  • The perception of bias in the appointment of the Governor could be addressed by appointing the Governor from a body comprising representatives of both the states and the Centre and also from the judiciary to ensure fair play.
    • This would ensure that cooperative federalism is at play which has worked quite well for India in terms of GST reform which functions through the GST Council with representatives of both the Centre and the states.
  • Impartiality and independence of the office could be ensured by providing security of tenure.
    • This has worked quite well in India where the judges of the HCs and the SC and some other constitutional functionaries are given this status.
    • This would mean that Governors make their decision in the public interest rather than in the political interest.
  • The removal of the Governor could be done by the appointing committee. This again would ensure that both the Centre and the state have a say in the removal of the Governor.
  • These reforms would also ensure that -
    • The faith of the citizens in India’s democratic institutions increases,
    • The scope for allegations of foul play is reduced, and
    • Energy is devoted towards better governance than to tussles over the functioning of the Governor.

News Summary Regarding Resignation by Punjab Governor

  • His resignation comes days after the Chandigarh mayoral polls, in which the AAP raised allegations of rigging and moved the Supreme Court.
  • Earlier, the Ministry of Home Affairs had posted Rajeev Verma, an AGMUT cadre officer, as the Union Territory Adviser.
  • A three-time MP (twice from the Congress, once from the BJP) from Nagpur, Banwarilal Purohiy was earlier the Governor of Tamil Nadu and Assam.
  • In Punjab, his tenure was marked by frequent run-ins with the AAP government led by the Chief Minister.
    • Shortly after the AAP came to power in Punjab, he shot off a series of letters to Mann seeking clarifications on several issues.
    • On the other hand, the Punjab CM accused the Governor of delaying assent to crucial Bills passed by the Assembly, and his government even approached the Supreme Court.
    • In November last year, the Supreme Court pulled up the Governor on the matter.

Q.1. What is the 2016 Nabam Rebia Judgment?

In the Nabam Rebia case, the SC stopped a speaker facing removal notice from deciding disqualification pleas against members of legislatures under anti-defection law.

Q.2. What is Article 161 of the Indian Constitution?

Under Article 161, the Governor of a State shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the State extends.

Source: Banwarilal Purohit resigns as Punjab Governor citing ‘personal reasons’ | DH