Powers and future of Governors

Kewal Krishan Sethi

In the Maharashtra case, the Supreme Court has said it was wrong of governor to ask for vote of confidence when the Shiv Sena broke.

In Telegana case, Supreme Court says the Governor cannot sit indefinitely on bills approved by the Legislature. He can either give assent or send it back to the Government.

In Delhi, supreme court says Lt. Governor has no powers over officers.

Taken all this into consideration, it appears that the Governors need not be there. They can be and should be replaced by rubber stamps. If a human being is appointed, he has just to read the lecture prepared by the Chief Minister and the Cabinet. No deviation is allowed. He must not have anything to do with universities or the legislation or the officers. So on and so forth.

The Maharashtra decision means that the Governor must be a mute spectator even when it is clear that Chief Minister does not have majority of members in the Vidhan Sabha with him. It follows that if a party breaks up, it is not incumbent upon Governor to question whether the majority is still with Chief Minister or not. It is not clear who is to decide. Is it a matter between the Speaker and the Chief Minister who both belong to same party? But can the Speaker call for confidence vote or should he proceed to disqualify members opposed to the Chief Minister in instalments, 16 one day, 12 next day, 8 day after and 4 further on till all dissidents are counted out and the Chief Minister has majority of members with him and then let the Chief Minister seek vote of confidence. all this while the Governor and the public just watch the circus from the ringside.

One recalls the vote of confidence sought even though no one had asked for it nor was there any occasion for it. But the Chief Minister of india (that is what he considers himself even though officially he is chief minister of half State Delhi) did.

It may be recalled that governor of Andhra Pradesh had sacked NT Ramarao Government. There was no defection, only anticipation of defection. It is different matter that the ground support swell forced the Central Government to sack the Governor and restore the Ramarao Government. No one had at that time questioned the powers of the Governor. But gradually the executive lost its powers and now the supreme court is calling the shots and taking decisions which defy logic. According to them, Constitution provides that whatever they say in their wisdom, or lack of it, must prevail. It is just a matter of time before they will determine the sex of every citizen.

It will also be recalled that in Jagdambika Pal vs Union Of India And Ors, 1998, the Supreme Court had ordered a composite floor test, in Uttar Pradesh when when Governor Romesh Bhandari had dismissed Kalyan Singh as chief minister and appointed Jagdambika Pal of Congress in his place. The conclusion Supreme Court can but the Governor cannot. The Central Government can sack a Chief aminister under Article 356 but cannot call for vote of confidence. The Chief Minister can do it even when there is no case for it as it happened in Delhi Legislature.

It is also a matter of time before Supreme Court appoints a committee for selection of Governor, presided over by Chief Justice (Just as Election Commissioner) with Opposition Leader and Chief Minister of concerned State as members. you can vouchsafe what his chief qualification will be – fierce Independence.

Kewal Krishan Sethi

KK Sethi, a 1963 batch IAS officer. He was borne on the Madhya Pradesh cadre and has had an illustrious career. He was Chairman Board of Revenue Madhya Pradesh, Chief Secretary Manipur, and head of the National Commission for Linguistic Minorities (NCLM).


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