A late but right call by Kerala Governor

Source: The post is based on the article “A late but right call by Kerala Governorpublished in The Hindu on 4th January 2023.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Indian Polity

Relevance: Role of Governor

News: Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan has finally decided to reinstate former Minister Saji Cherian into the Cabinet and administer the oath. However, he was initially reluctant.

What does the Constitution say regarding oath?

Article 164(3) provides that the Governor shall administer the oaths of office and secrecy to a Minister before he assumes office.

The Schedule III of the Constitution lays out the oath of office and oath of secrecy for a Minister of a State.  The oaths are prescribed for various constitutional posts, including Ministers and judges, and without it, one cannot assume office.

A person can become a minister if he is an MLA or MLC and has not suffered any disqualification provided under the Constitution.

In the present case, the concerned minister was made to resign for his anti-constitutional speech but was not disqualified.

However, there have been instances where the Governor has refused to administer the oath.

Can a Governor refuse to administer the oath?

This issue came up in 1978. Vasantha Pai got elected as a Member of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Council from the graduate constituency.

It is a requirement under Article 188 that the elected person should be administered the oath by the Governor or a person appointed on his behalf under Schedule III.

However, the Governor nominated Pro-tem Chairman to administer the oath on his behalf but Vasantha Pai did not want to take oath before him.

So, he expressed his wish in front of the then Governor of Tamil Nadu and informed him that he would like to be administered the oath by him. After not getting any answer, he sent a telegram asking him to fix a date for the oath.

However, he later sent his oath in the form prescribed in Schedule III duly signed by him to the Governor. He referred to Article 188 and said that it was the Constitutional duty of the Governor to administer the oath.

He also filed a writ petition before the Madras High Court and asked for the declaration that he has followed the constitutional requirement of taking oath before assuming office.

The court allowed his case and he entered the legislative council successfully.

Therefore, the same could have happened if the Kerala Governor would have refused to administer the oath and a governor cannot refused to administer the oath as it his constitutional duty.

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