Notes on the essential powers of the Governors of India



The constitution of India provides for a federal structure. There are two sets of Government one for the centre and the other for the states provided in the constitution. The provision for administration in all the states are uniform except the state of Jammu and Kashmir which has a separate constitution.

The State Governments are organized more or less on the pattern of Parliamentary system like the Union with little difference here and there. The executive head of the states, the Governor, is a nominal ruler. He acts on the aid and advice on the Council of Ministers, which is responsible to the State Legislature. Although the Governor is bound by the advice of the Council of Ministers, there is also scope for him to act in his discretion.

The Governor is the counterpart of the President of India in the state. All executive actions in the state are taker in his name as the constitution vests the executive powers in him. The main difference between the President and the Governor is that the former is elected indirectly where as the later is appointed by the President. Normally a Governor is appointed for one state but sometimes he may be appointed for two more states simultaneously. The Governor holds office during the pleasure of the President. A tradition in respect of the appointment of the Governor is that a person shall not be appointed Governor in the state to which he belongs. In other words a person cannot be appointed a Governor in his home state. Secondly the President consults the concerned Chief Minister before appointing a Governor in his state.

Although the office of the Governor is not elective still specific qualifications are laid down in the constitution for his appointment. Any citizen of India who is more than 35 years of age, holding no office of profit can be appointed a Governor. A person cannot become a member of state legislature or a member of parliament and a Governor of state simultaneously. If such a member of either State or Union legislature is appointed a Governor, he must resign his seat in the legislature before taking oath of office. The Governor is appointed for five years but he may be removed by the President earlier. Constitution does not specify any reason for which he may be removed. President is the right authority to decide upon the issue of removal.

There was a proposal in the Constituent Assembly to elect the Governor. But the proposal was turned down after a great deal of deliberations. Decision was taken in favour of an appointed Governor. The arguments advanced were that in the absence of any issue to raise before the public, the elections may be fought on personal lines adding chaos to confusion. Further it was apprehended that an elected Governor may aspire for real power and may compete with the Chief Minister who is the elected representative of the people. Thirdly a country with limited financial resources can handly meet the burdens of yet another election. Fourthly, it was feared that in the event of election outstanding persons may not offer their candidature for the office which was nominal in character. Fifthly, elections may develop regional feelings affecting the unity of the country. Lastly the members hoped that a nominated Governor could act as a link between the Centre and State relationship.

A governor gets a monthly salary of ________________/-. He is entitled to official residence, Raj Bhawan, free of cost. He also gets other allowances and privileges which cannot be reduced normally during his term of office.

The powers of the Governors may be broadly classified as Executive, Legislative, Financial and Judicial.

1. Executive Powers

Like the President, the Governor also makes all high appointments in the State. He appoints the Chief Minister and other ministers and distributes portfolios among them on the recommendation of the Chief Minister. Virtually he has no role to play in this matter. The Advocate General, the Chairman and members of State Public Service Commission are appointed by him. He can remove the Advocate General but not the Chairman and members of P.S.C. They can be removed by the President on the report of the Supreme Court. He can nominate one member of Anglo Indian Community to the State Assembly if he feels that the community has no adequate representative in the state. He can also nominate one sixth of the members having special knowledge in the field of art, science, literature, social service and corporative movement to the Legislative Councils in state where the legislature is bicameral.

The Governors of Orissa, Bihar, M.P. have a special responsibility to see that a minister remains in charge of Tribal Affairs. Being the head of the executive he has a right to be informed about the administration. He can call for any information regarding administration from the Chief Minister.

Essential Powers

2. Legislative Powers

Like the President, the Governor is very much an integral part of the State Legislature. The legislature cannot meet and function unless summoned by him. He delivers the inaugural address at the commencement of the first session of the legislature. He can address either or both the Houses of the legislature in case of a bicameral legislature and may send messages. The bills passed in the state legislature become Acts only after his consent. The process of giving assent to the bills are the same as with the President of India. Of course there are certain important bills affecting the federal provisions or national administration. Such bills can be reserved for Presidential ascent by the Governor. The President is not bound to give his assent to the bill even if the same bill is sent to him for his consent time and again. He can also promulgate ordinances in the event of the recess of the legislature. Such ordinances issued by the governor remain valid up to six weeks after the meeting of the Assembly. If however the ordinance is not passed in the legislature in the stipulated time it lapses automatically.

3. Financial Power

Budget is a very important tool of administration. It is the annual financial statement of income and expenditure prepared by the executive. It makes demands for grants by the legislature. Under the orders of the Governor the annual budget proposals are placed in the Assembly. The Money Bills need his prior approval for introduction in the Assembly. There is a Contingency Fund at his disposal. All unforeseen expenditures are met from this fund with his approval pending the sanction of the state legislature.

4. Judicial Powers

The judicial authority of the Governor is restricted to laws within the executive power of the state government. The governor can extend pardon to persons committing crime and convicted by Court of law. He can commute or remit sentences of the accused. He is consulted in the appointment of the judges of the High Court. He enjoys personal immunity from civil and criminal proceeding during his tenure.