Essay on the powers and functions of the Governors of India

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The Governor exercises this power by virtue of the fact that he is an integral part of the legislative process. A word may be said here about the difference between adjournment, prorogation and dissolution of the legislature.

An adjournment is an interruption in the normal business of the House in the course of one and the same session and this power is exercised exclusively by the Speaker. Prorogation means end of a session of the Assembly; Dissolution means the end of the Assembly and a signal for fresh elections.

It is the convention that, while prorogating the House, the Governor must consult the Chief Minister and the Council. Yet, this principle cannot be accepted .He has discretion in this regard and it must be judiciously exercised.

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When the Chief Minister advises the Governor to prorogue the Assembly in the middle of the session to save the ministry from defeat in the Assembly or there is a no-confidence motion against the Chief Minister or his council, the Governor, in his discretion can refuse to do so.

The C.M. may have lost his majority due to defection or splits in the party and yet he wants to stay on in power and indulge in horse-trading to regain what he has lost, viz., and majority support. In such a case, the Governor must carefully scrutinize the situation and proceed to prorogue it only when he is satisfied that the motion is not frivolous but genuine.

Summoning the House

The Governor is empowered to summon the chambers of the state legislature simultaneously or separately but more than six months should not elapse between two sessions. Under Article 175(1), he can also summon a joint session and address both the Houses together.

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This does not hold good when the state is under President’s rule under Article 356 and the state assembly is dissolved or in a state of suspended animation. Constitutional experts are sharply divided on the question whether this is discretionary power or not. Normally and conventionally, it ought to be treated as a duty rather than a power.

He will consult the Chief Minister and his ministers because the latter provide business for a session of the legislature. But, what happens when a Chief Minister, fearing defeat in the Assembly, does not advise the Governor to summon the session. By not summoning the legislature, would not the Governor be violating the Constitution? Can he be removed by the President for not summoning the legislature?

What would happen if the same party is ruling at the Centre and in the state and the President, advised by the council of ministers (who also belong to the same ruling party), advises the Governor not to summon the session? What is the propencourse of action?

These questions have no answers, since the Governors have behaved differently at different times in the same context. Conflicting views of jurists make the situation still more confusing. B.R. Ambedkar was of the view that, since it was more a duty than a power; by not summoning it he would be violating the Constitution.

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The Governor’s Conference, held at New Delhi in 1970, was of the opinion that since the Assembly was the proper forum for assessing the claims of the contenders, the Governor could summon it even if the Chief Minister advised against it. Experts such as C.K. Daphtary, M.C. Chagla and L.M. Singhvi also hold that it is his discretionary power.

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