The head of the states is called the Governor, who is the constitutional head of the state as the President is for the whole of India.

The Governor is usually a distinguished elder states man, who can discharge his rather perfunctory duties with dignity and who is on a position to exercise what Gandhi called an “all pervading moral influence.

The Governor of a state has a dual role to play – as the constitutional head of the state and as the agent or representative of the centre.

Constitutional Head of State:


The Governor is a ceremonial head of the state. The constitution provides for a council of ministers with a Chief Minister at the head to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of this functions except when he can act at his discretion. The council of ministers is collectively responsible to the state Legislative Assembly.

All the executive powers are exercised by the cabinet in the name of the Governor who acts constitutionally on the advice of the council of Ministers. The constitution, however, specifically lay down that except in matters where the Governor is required to act in his discretion, he shall not be bound to follow the advice of the council of Ministers, but act in his discretion.

If any question regarding the exercise of the discretion of the Governor arises, the decision of the Governor shall not be called in question on the grouped that he ought or ought not to have acted in his discretion. The courts of the land do not have the power to question the action of the Governor taken in his discretion and the decision of the Governor shall be final.

It is pointed out by the study team on union. State relations appointed by the Administrative Reforms Commission that the following functions fall within the discretionary powers of the Governor in his role as the head of the State Government.


(i) Appointment of Chief Minister,

(ii) Dismissal of ministry;

(iii) Dissolution of legislature;

(iv) Right to advise, warn and suggest;


(v) Withhold assent from a bill; and

(vi) Discretionary powers of the Governor of Assam, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Mizoram, Tripura and Meghalaya.

Governor as agent of the centre:

Apart from being the constitutional head of a state, the Governor also acts as the agent or representative of the Central Government. In fact he is the only constitutional link between the centre and the states. As his appointment is made by the President of India on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, he is inclined to remain more loyal to the centre than to the states.


He ensures that the directives issued by the centre to the states are carried out and the Government of the state is carried on in accordance with the provisions of the constitution. It is on the recommendations of the Governor that the President usually issues a proclamation of emergency in the state on account of constitutional breakdown of the state machinery.

Even after the state is placed under President is rule the Governor is the chief representative of the President in the State Jo run the administration of the state on his behalf. When President’s Rule, has been imposed on a state the Governor ceases to be a constitutional ruler of the state and acts as an agent of the President.

V. V. Giri, the Former Governor of Mysore, called himself to be an ‘Ambassador’ of the Central Government To the state administration Governor Sri Prakasa also called himself an “agent of the centre”.

The Governor holds a key position in the state and is a hyphen which binds the relations of the state with the centre. He is the link that fasters the federal state chain, the channel which regulates union-state relations.


Thus Governor represents the centre in the state, and the state at the centre. That he does in his periodic reports to the President, in his meetings with the President and, at the time of the Governor’s conferences. It is he who helps in building up the image of the state and of the state Government at the centre. He focuses on the needs and the interests of the state at the central level.

As a matter of fact, the terms agent’ and ‘constitutional head’ are two independent contradictory things in the sense that the Constitutional Head is supposed to be impartial, where as an agent is always partial.

Governors were so Powerless during the 1950-67 period that some of them wondered whether the office they held was of any consequence of all. In his article entitled. “The Governor at work’. K.V. Rao has quoted Sarojini Naidu, Governor of U P, as having said that she considered herself as a bird in a golden cage.

Dr. Pattabhai Sitaramaya observes that he had no public function to perform except making fort nightly reports to the President when Nehru was asked directly as to what were the functions of Governors, he replied, to entertain the people and make them feel pleased.


Sri Prakasa and Vijaylakshmi Pandit who were former Governors complained that the office of the Governor was redundant. They pleaded that the office of the Governor may either be abolished or given certain functions to perform.

Prof. K.V. Rao asserts, “one of the causalities of the Nehru era is the state Governor”. The role of the Governor was restricted in the Nehru era because there was one political party that was in power in the centre as well as in most of the states.

During this period, the channels through which the interaction between the states and the centre took place was outside the office of the Governor and therefore they did not have much opportunity of playing an important role.

The Governors came into great prominence after 1967 when they were faced with difficult situation especially as no one political party could secure a clean majority. This provided Governors an opportunity to exercise their discretionary powers.

It was argued that the (Governors were exercising their constitutional powers neither in their discretion nor according to their individual judgement but according to the advice of-the Prime Minister who was abusing the office to advance her own interests and those of her party.

The foregoing analysis would show that the key issue concerning the office of the Governor today is not one of rehabilitation but of role differentiation. The problem of role differentiation which could not take place and get institution aliased so far largely on account of one party dominance has assumed such serious proportions today as to become a case of crisis of confidence in the political system itself.

The Governor has a double role to play one as constitutional head of the state and the other as agent of the centre. We may argue that the expression ‘agent of the centre’ is not a happy expression in so far as it is un-federal, it not anti-federal, we could perhaps speak of the obligations of the Governor as head of the state and of his constitutional responsibilities vis-à-vis the centre.

Two premises may be developed to delineate his role in this regard. Generally speaking, there is no overlap between the two roles except where otherwise specifically provided, the role of the Governor as a so-called agent of the centre starts where his role as constitutional head of the state ends.

Secondly, we may also add that there is another line of demarcation in the Governor’s role as constitutional head of the state has primacy over his role as agent of the centre as the former relates to periods of normally and the latter to emergency situations. If these two premises are accepted, the two roles could be easily reconciled.

Thus, we may conclude that the Governor has two important roles to play. As the representative or the centre in the state, it is his responsibility to see that the federal balance and political stability are not sought to be destroyed or under mind. In his role as the head of the state Government, he has discretionary powers.

He is not merely a figurehead or a nominal head, or a passive spectator. But the exact range of his powers would greatly depend upon the political situation that exists in the state. If there is great deal of political harmony in the state, the burden of the Governor is greatly reduced.

If there is great deal of political discharge money in the state and political stability is being undermined the role of the Governor naturally becomes much larger.

The Supreme Court has expressly laid down that Governorship is an independent constitutional office which is not subject to the control of the Government of India.