[Answered]“Has the Governor been acting more of an ‘agent of the centre’ rather than being the ‘constitutional head of state’.” Analyse in the light of recent controversies involving the post of Governor in India.

Demand of the question

Introduction. Contextual Introduction.

Body. Discuss how governor is acting as agent of centre in recent times. Mention the importance of governor as constitutional head.

Conclusion. Way forward.

The governor is the chief executive head of the state. He is a nominal executive head and also acts as an agent of the central government. In recent times, the office of Governor came under scanner especially in Karnataka when instead of inviting the post-poll alliance partners which had the number in the floor of the house, the Governor invited the single largest party which was way short of the majority. Governor is being criticised for being a puppet of central government as agent of centre than being the constitutional head of state.

Governor acting more as an ‘agent of the centre’:

  1. Misuse of Article 356:Under Article 356, asa discretionary power, Governor need to submit report to advise the President to proclaim emergency if there is constitutional breakdown. This power has been abused by political parties in power at centre to dismiss governments in state governed by parties in opposition.
  2. Power of Reserving bill: Constitution provides that Governor can reserve the bill for consideration of President. Even though constitution does not provide centre the power to veto state’s legislation, through power of reservation centre exercises this power by vetoing or delaying any legislation through President refusal to assent to state’s legislation.
  3. As an agent of political party in power at centre: Governors are not shy of revealing their partisan preference. For instance, in recent times Governors have exhorted voters to vote for particular party.Recently, the Governor of Rajasthan has been charged with the violation of the model code of conduct.
  4. Partisan role in Hung assemblies: In case of hung assemblies, there is discretion for Governors as to which party or coalition of parties are in best position to form the government. This discretion is abused by Governors in partisan manner at the instruction of centre. There are numerous instance where despite the parties apparently having lesser seats than the parties in opposition are invited to form government.E.g. Recently, Governor invited BJP for forming government in Karnataka despite opposition coalition claiming majority.
  5. Arbitrary Removal of Governors: There have been instances of removal of governors in States with Government change at the centre. Thus governors most of the timedue to fear of removal favour political party in centre and work as agent for them.

Way Forward:

  1. The post of the Governor should be reserved for non-political appointees, and the Supreme Court should lay down the law on how the Governor ought to act when an election yields a fractured verdict.
  2. The Sarkaria Commission recommended that Article 356 should be used in very rare cases when it becomes unavoidable to restore the breakdown of constitutional machinery in the State.
  3. The “Punchhi commission” recommended that these Articles 355 & 356 be amended. It sought to protect the interests of the States by trying to curb their misuse by the Centre.
  4. A national panel should be prepared after involving the opposition, ruling party, civil society and the judiciary in the selection process. The governor should be appointed from this panel after consultation with the CM of the state in which he or she is to function.
  5. In the current political climate examples being Goa (2017), Meghalaya (2018), Manipur (2017) and Karnataka (2018), point to the need to ensure proper checks and balances to streamline the functioning of this office.
  6. In order to enable the governor to successfully discharge his functions under the constitution, an agreed ‘Code of Conduct’ approved by the state governments, the central government, the parliament, and the state legislatures should be evolved.

The role of governor is indispensable for the successful working of the constitutional democracy. He must refrain from aligning himself to any political ideology. The virtue of impartiality must be withheld to ensure a free and fair election in a democracy.This will go a long way in preventing the dismissal of state governments on petty and manufactured grounds of lawlessness.

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