The Governor- Indian polity -(Article 153-162)

Introduction: The Governor is the chief executive head of the state; he acts as the nominal head whereas the real power lies with the Chief ministers of the states. The role of the Governor is similar to the president as he is the constitutional head, the governors perform the same duties as that of a President, for the state.

The Governor acts as an agent of the central government, so the office of the governor has a dual role. He functions as a link between the Union government and the State government.

Provision for governor

There is a provision for the appointment of a Governor for each state, but the 7th constitutional Amendment Act of 1956 facilitated the appointment of the same person as a Governor for two or more states.

Article 153 to Article 163 in Part VI of the Indian constitution deals with the appointment, power, position, and function of the Governor of State.

constitutional position of governor in Indian constitution

The constitutional position of the governor

Appointment of the Governor: Article 153

  • There shall be a Governor for each state (Article 153 of the Constitution of India).
  • The Governors of states are appointed by the President of India.

Qualifications for the post of Governor:

Article 157 and Article 158 of the Constitution of India specify eligibility requirements for the post of governor.

The eligibility criteria for the governor are:

  • must be at least 35 years of age.
  • should not hold any office of profit.
  • should not be a resident of the same state. (It is a tradition, not mentioned in the constitution)
  • Should not be a member of either house of the parliament or the house of the state legislature.

Term of Governor’s Office:

The Governor holds the office for a term of five years. The term of five years is subject to the pleasure of the President.

  • The Governor can resign at any time by addressing a resignation letter to the President.
  • The Governor has no security of tenure, and no fixed term of office. He may be removed by President at any time.
  • The President may transfer a Governor appointed to one state to another state for the rest of the term.
  • A Governor can be reappointed after the expiration of his term.
  • A governor can hold office beyond his term of five years until his successor assumes charge.

Power and Functions of Governor:

The primary function of the governor is to preserve, protect and defend the constitution and the law as incorporated in their oath of office under Article 159 of the Indian Constitution.

A governor possesses the following powers:

  1. Executive Power
  2. Legislative Power
  3. Financial Power
  4. Judicial Power

According to Article 154, the executive power of the state shall be vested in the Governor.

  • All executive actions of the government of the state are formally taken in his name.
  • He appoints the chief minister and other ministers (Article 164); they hold office at his pleasure.
    • There should be a tribal welfare minister in the states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Odisha appointed by the Governor. (Bihar was excluded from this provision by the 94th Amendment Act of 2006)
  • The Council of Ministers remains in power during the ‘pleasure’ of the governor, but in the real sense, it means the pleasure of obtaining a majority in the Legislative Assembly. As long as the majority in the State Legislative Assembly supports the government, the Council of Ministers cannot be dismissed
  • He appoints the advocate general of a state and determines his remuneration. The advocate general holds office during the pleasure of the governor.
  • State Election Commissioner is also appointed by the Governor (though removed by the President)
  • The President consults the governor in the appointment of judges of the High Court and the governor appoints the judges of the District Courts.
  • He appoints the Chairman and members of the State Public Service Commission.
  • He can seek any information relating to the administration of the affairs of the state and proposals for legislation from the chief minister.
  • He can recommend the imposition of a constitutional emergency in the state to the President. During the period of the President’s rule in a state, the governor enjoys extensive executive powers as an agent of the president.
  • He acts as the Chancellor of Universities in the state. He also appoints the vice-chancellors of universities in the state.

A governor has the following legislative powers and functions:

  • He can summon or prorogue the state legislature and dissolve the state legislative assembly.
  • He can address the state legislature at the commencement of the first session after each general election and the first session of each year.
  • The governor’s address on these occasions generally outlines new policies of the state government. A bill that the state legislature has passed, can become a law only after the governor gives assent.
  • The governor can return a bill to the state legislature, if it is not a money bill, for reconsideration, however, if the state legislature sends it back to the governor for the second time, the governor must assent to it.
  • The governor has the power to reserve certain bills for the president.
  • He nominates one-sixth of the members of the state legislative council from persons having special knowledge or practical experience in literature, science, art, cooperative movement, and social service.
  • Governor is empowered under Article 192 to disqualify a member of a House of the State legislature when the election commission recommends that the legislator is no longer complying with provisions of Article 191.
  • He lays the reports of the State Finance Commission, the State Public Service Commission, and the comptroller and Auditor–General relating to the accounts of the state, before the state legislature.

The financial Powers and functions of the governor are as follows:

  1. He sees the Annual Financial Statement (state budget) is laid before the state legislature.
  2. Money bills can be introduced in the state legislature only with his prior recommendation.
  3. Further, no demand for a grant shall be made except on the governor’s recommendation.
  4. They can also make advances out of the Contingency Fund of the State to meet any unforeseen expenditure. Moreover, the governor constitutes the Finance Commission of the state after every five years to review the financial position of the Panchayats and the Municipalities.

The Judicial powers and functions of governors are as follows:

  1. As per Article 161, the governor can grant pardons, reprieves, respites, and remission of punishment or suspend, remit, and commute the sentence of any person convinced of any offense against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the state extends.
  2. Appointment of a judge of the state high court by the president, the governor should be consulted.
  3. He makes appointments, postings, and promotions of district judges in consultation with the state high court.
  4. He also appoints persons to the judicial service of the state.

Three important powers of the governor are Veto Power, Ordinance making power, and pardoning power.

Legal immunity to the governor

As per Article 361 of the Indian Constitution, the governor cannot be summoned for questioning except on his voluntary willingness to testify in the court in support of his controversial deeds though the unconstitutional decisions taken by the governor would be declared invalid by the courts

  • The case would be decided by the courts based on the facts furnished by the union government for the governor’s role.
  • As clarified by the Supreme Court in the case ‘Rameshwar Prasad & Ors vs. Union of India & ANR 24 January 2006’, though a governor cannot be prosecuted and imprisoned during his tenure, he can be prosecuted after he/she steps down from the post for the guilt committed during his term of governorship as declared earlier by the courts.
  • No governor has resigned on impropriety to continue in office for declaring and nullifying his decisions as unconstitutional by the courts now.
  • No criminal case at least on the grounds of disrespecting the constitution is lodged till now against former governors to punish them for their unconstitutional acts though many decisions taken during the term of governorship had been declared by Supreme Court as unconstitutional malafide, void, ultra vires, etc.

Removal of Governor

The term of the governor’s office is normally 5 years, there is no provision for impeachment but it can be terminated earlier as follows:

  • Dismissal by the president at whose pleasure the governor holds an office (Article 156)
  • Dismissal of Governors without a valid reason is not permitted, however, it is the duty of the President to dismiss a Governor whose acts are upheld by courts as unconstitutional and not faithful
  • Resignation by the governor.
Article related to governor- The Governor- Indian polity -Article 153-162

Article related to the governor- The Governor- Indian polity


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