Position of governor has always remain an issue of political conflict in federal democracies such as India . The problem get more severe when the ruling party in a multi-lateral party system is different at the Centre and at the State or Province. The article is an attempt to throw light on the institution of governor in the functioning of the largest democracy of the world .
The origin of the term ‘Governor’ can be traced from old French term “Governour” meaning personal keeper,protector,guide and directly may be linked from Latin word “Gubernatoern” meaning direction, rules . Article- 153 of the Constitution of India providesthat there shall be a Governor for each State . Article- 155, the Constitution of India lays down that the Governor the State shall be appointed by the President (i.e. the Central Govt.) . Regarding the position of the Governor , Article- 154, theConstitution of Indiasays that the executive power of the State shall be vested in the Governor and shall be excercised by him either directly or through officer under him .
It is often said that the position of Governor in the State is same that of the President at the Centre but it differs in the aspect of “Discretion” which is not associated with the president but the term is expressly provided to the governors armoury by the Constitution .Article – 163(1), theConstitution of India provides that the Governor is to act on the advice of the Council of Minister except in so far as he is by or under the Constitution , required to exercise his function or any of them in his discretion.Clause (2) provides that under the Constitution in any matter Governor requires to act in his discretion shall be final .
Granting of the discretionary power in the hand of the non elected Executive put a serious question on the healthy functioning of the democracy. It has been evident from the various instances over the year as how the power have got abused and is a threat of working of the State Governments. Out of all the provision the most controversial in Article- 356, the Constitution of India, relating to imposition of President rule in the state .Use of the Article has shows the most creative use of Governor for toppling the State Government when the ruling party at the Centre and State are different . “Laboratory of Democracy” phenomenon popularized by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brender provide how democracies provide space for experimentation in democracies but the experiment of non elected executive with wide power is dangerous and is rightly limited by the Supreme court in 1994 where it laid down that Governor authority as it made the decision of dismissing an elected government is opened to Judicial Scrutiny. Out of 29 states in India only Chattisgarh and newly created Telengana are the only state where President rule has not been so far imposed , this fact is also a serious concern regard the health democracy in our country and role of Governor also come under question .
Conflict of opinions are the highlight of the democracy but however in case of conflict between the Governor and the Chief Minister of the State the matter could lead to dysfunctioning of governance in the State concerned. Instances of collision are not rare and recently there has been instances of Governors of Tripura ,U.P. , West Bengal , Assam and Arunanchal Pradesh in conflicts with the Chief Minister of the State concerned . Non-Accountability of Governor as opposed to the Elected Representative to the public has also been an issue of conflict as it has been seen that in recent time where Governors had made un-constitution statements and propagation of particular ideology while remaining in the Office put a threat to the essence of Institution. Non accountability has also led to the non-seriousness of Office Holder with can be seen from the recent case of southern State where in case of serious Government turmoil it was found that Governor was found missing and later found holidaying at a hill station .
All the above mention instances shows the dire need of hour to rethink as to how to improve the functioning of Governor. Moral Code of conduct is needed to be placed for the office bearer and needed to be followed strictly .Use of Discretionary power in the spirit of the constitution with bona fide intention is needed to strictly observed. It’s true that presently the Governor role appear to be foggy but it is to be remembered that this Institution may act asa beam of sunlight with is necessary for the growth of democracy plant in the country. Not having this institution is not a solution to the problem , if we try to imagine a system without governor it might lead to risk of collapse of federal system as the bridge may be missing between the Centre and the State .The working of the President may be overburdened .Keeping all this in mind it is clear that there is a need of office of the governor but with certain checks and changes , so the federal spirit may be strengthened.
Contributed By : Amit Kumar, Institute of Law, Kurukshetra University
Edited By – Nikita Goel, Convener, Students Reporter Committee, INBA