Arif Mohammad Khan is overreaching in his role as governor

Source– The post is based on the article “Arif Mohammad Khan is overreaching in his role as governor” published in The Indian Express on 2nd november 2022.

Syllabus: GS2- Federalism

Relevance– Position of Governor

News- The article explains the position of Governor in constitutional setup.

Kerala governor seeked the dismissal of state finance minister for expressing his opinion on the security given to a vice chancellor in UP. He equated it with the violation of the Constitution and as threatening cordial relations between states.

What does the constitution say about the powers of governor?

Under Article 163(1), the council of ministers is “to aid and advise the governor in the exercise of his functions, except in so far as he is by or under this Constitution required to exercise his functions or any of them at his discretion”.

Article 164 provides for appointment of ministers in state. It has to be strictly on the advice of the council of ministers headed by CM. The governor has no independent power to appoint any minister.

The governor is the titular head of the government. He is not an active participant in the day-to-day functioning of the government.

What has been the position of the judiciary?

The Supreme Court in Nabam Rebia case, 2016 held that the exercise of executive power by the governor, is by and large notional. The office of the governor has been described as “titular”.

In NCT Delhi v. Union of India, SC underlined that our adoption of the Westminster form of government means that the real powers vested in the elected government and governor has to be just a nominal head. He reigns but does not rule.

In Shamsher Singh v State of Punjab (1974), the apex court had said we are a parliamentary democracy and governors should ideally behave just like the British monarch.

What do the debates of the constituent assembly say about the position of governor?

Hari Vishnu Kamath, a member of the Constituent Assembly, moved an amendment to do away with the discretionary powers Article 163. the reason given was any discretionary powers would undermine the tenets of a constitutionally elected government.

Rohini Kumar Chaudhuri feared that such powers may be used to unsettle democratically elected governments.

Ambedkar was of the opinion that Clause (1) of Article 163 is a very limited clause. It was not a general one that gave the governor power to disregard the advice of his ministers in any matter in which he finds he ought to disregard.

How should the governor use discretionary powers?

Discretions to be exercised with caution and in a reasonable manner. It is not according to will and private affections. Absolute discretion is constitutional blasphemy. It endangers freedom.

The role and duties of the governor are only to the extent where he is advised by the council of ministers so that the fine democratic values are maintained.

The governor may exercise his discretionary powers only in certain exceptional situations such as formation of government when there is no clear majority.

Their duty is to ensure that the popular government elected by the people who are the real sovereign of our country complete their terms in office and in cases.

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