155. Appointment of Governor.
—The Governor of a State shall be
appointed by the President by warrant under
his hand and seal.
The Constitution of India is the fountainhead from which all our laws derive their authority and force. This is next Article in the series on constitutional provisions in order to aid our readers in understanding them.
Role of the Governor: The supreme objective of our founding fathers was to build and preserve the unity and integrity of the nation. India is a Union of States. While the Union is the basis of the nation, States are its limbs. The relationship between the Union and the States is that of the whole and its parts. The Governor was envisaged on the one hand as the executive head of the State and on the other as the representative of the Union in the State. He was expected to act as the eyes and ears of the Union and to generally ensure that the government of the State was carried on in accordance with the Constitution and particularly to see that the vital interests of the Union are safeguarded. Unlike the President, the Governors have to exercise some important functions under their discretionary powers also. In view of this and in the context of many fissiparous tendencies now and then, here and there, raising their ugly heads, the office of the Governor is even more relevant now than it was ever before.
Unfortunately, the parties that come to power at the Union level treat it as a part of the patronage or spoils system. Governorship becomes a reward for past loyalty and a tacit assurance of protecting party interests in the future. Thus, the office degenerates into that of an agent of the party/parties in power in New Delhi.
Where the elections return a ‘hung’ House with no single party or pre-poll alliance being in a position to command majority support on its own, the role of the Governor in choosing the Chief Minister becomes most delicate and difficult. Unless the fullest care and caution are exercised, Governor may get involved in unseemly political controversies. The unfortunate stand of some of the Governors in the matter has in fact been largely responsible for the continuing phenomenon of horse-trading and instability of Governments.
Misuse of office: More particularly in recent years, Governors’ office has often been misused by those in power at the Union level as also by the Governors themselves. Some Governors in the exercise of their functions have shown utter lack of discretion and behaved irresponsibly inviting even judicial indictment e.g., in the 1994 Bommai case, the Supreme Court commenting on the conduct of the then Governor inter alia said that “all canons of propriety were thrown to winds” by the Governor and his act “smacked of mala fides”. As a high constitutional functionary, Governor “was expected to conduct himself more fairly, cautiously and circumspectly”.
The Bihar case: In the more recent Bihar Assembly dissolution case, the Supreme Court made some very strong comments on the role of the Governor who was said to have followed a wholly illegal, irregular and mala fide course when he “moved very swiftly and with undue haste” to dissolve the Assembly to prevent a political party from gaining majority and staking claim to forming the Government.
Areas of controversy: The crucial areas giving birth to controversies and allegations of partisan conduct have been (i) the appointment of the Chief Minister in case of a hung house, and (ii) reporting failure of constitutional machinery and recommending President’s rule. Both the problems can be solved by having the Leader of the House (CM) elected by the House itself and made removable only by a vote of constructive no-confidence, thereby keeping the Governor free from controversy.
Source: Dr Subhash C Kashyap, Constitutional Law (Universal)