TAG: GS 2: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
THE CONTEXT: Recently, a private member’s Bill has been introduced in the Rajya Sabha aiming to amend the Constitution concerning the Governor’s role.
- The primary goal of the Bill is to provide State Assemblies with the authority to recall Governors and enhance accountability and legitimacy within the Governor’s office.
Proposed Amendments and Electoral Process
- Election Process:
- The Bill suggests altering the method of Governor selection by proposing that Governors be elected by an electoral college comprising members from Legislative Assemblies, Gram Panchayats, Municipalities, and Corporations via proportional representation and secret ballot.
- Fixed Term and Removal Process:
- It proposes a fixed five-year term for Governors from the date of assuming office and outlines a process for Governors to resign by writing to the Speaker of State Assemblies.
- Additionally, it suggests a removal process through a resolution passed by a two-thirds majority of the State Legislative Assembly.
Debate Highlights and Opinions
- Support from Opposition:
- Members of the Opposition generally supported the Bill, citing the regular conflicts between Governors and State governments.
- They advocated for Parliament’s intervention to safeguard the federal rights of States and criticized instances of Governors delaying assent to Bills, violating constitutional provisions.
- Concerns and Opposition Stance:
- Some members expressed reservations about the Bill.
- Some argued that the Governor’s office carries official responsibility, not accountability.
- it was highlighted that the importance of the Governor is in maintaining the federal structure of the Constitution.
- The Governor’s role as a bridge between the Centre and the States has been emphasized.
Criticism of Governor’s Role and Central Influence
- Issues Raised:
- Members highlighted concerns about Governors allegedly functioning as political agents of the ruling party at the Centre, influencing decisions, and causing conflicts with elected State governments.
- Accusations of Central Influence:
- Some MPs criticized the Governor’s office as a mechanism of colonialism, suggesting that Governors are guided by directives from central authorities, undermining their impartiality.
CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS RELATED TO THE GOVERNOR
- Article 153 says that there shall be a Governor for each State. One person can be appointed as Governor for two or more States.
- A Governor is appointed by the President and is a nominee of the Central Government.
- It is stated that the Governor has a dual role.
- He is the constitutional head of the state, bound by the advice of his Council of Ministers (CoM).
- He functions as a vital link between the Union Government and the State Government.
- Articles 157 and 158 specify eligibility requirements for the post of governor. A governor must:
- Be a citizen of India.
- Be at least 35 years of age.
- Not be a member of the either house of the parliament or house of the state legislature.
- Not hold any office of profit.
- Governor has the power to grant pardons, reprieves, etc. (Article 161).
- There is a CoM with the CM at the head to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions, except some conditions for discretion. (Article 163).
- The Governor appoints the Chief Minister and other Ministers (Article 164).
- Governor assents, withholds assent, or reserves the bill for the consideration of the President passed by the Legislative Assembly (Article 200).
- Governors may promulgate the Ordinances under certain circumstances (Article 213).
- Governor’s role:
- The Governor holds a constitutional position and is expected to perform specific functions, including granting assent to bills passed by the state legislature and ensuring the proper functioning of state administration.
- The Governor’s actions are perceived as a hindrance to these responsibilities.
Conclusion and Divergent Views
- The debate over the private member’s Bill underscores the divergence in opinions regarding the role, selection, accountability, and influence of Governors in Indian states.
- While some advocate for enhanced accountability through State Assembly oversight, others emphasize the Governor’s role in maintaining the federal structure and bridging the gap between the Centre and States.
- The discussions in the Rajya Sabha reveal a spectrum of views on the proposed amendments and the contentious nature of Governor-State government relations within India’s federal structure.