Ponder This On R-Day – How to make governors constructive constitutional functionaries as originally envisaged by the republic

Source: The post is based on the article “Ponder This On R-Day – How to make governors constructive constitutional functionaries as originally envisaged by the republic” published in The Times of India on 25th January 2023.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary.

Relevance: About Friction between the state government and the governor.

News: Telangana this year will have two separate official R-Day events due to acrimony between the political executive and the governor. Friction between the state government and the governor is also happening in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Chhattisgarh.

The current phase of conflicts between governors and the political executive stems largely from stalling of bills.

What is the constitutional status of the governor?

The debate on primacy: The Constitution replaced the British Raj legislation where the governor functioned as an agent of the colonial power vested with greater authority than the elected council of ministers. However, the Constitution gave primacy to the legislative assembly and the political executive.

Appointment and dismissal: The constitutional bench in 1994 reiterated the primacy of the legislature and narrowed the ground for the dismissal of a government. The grey areas still allow a governor to make controversial calls on the appointment of chief ministers.

Powers with respect to Bills: Article 200 of the Constitution details the options of a governor when a bill is cleared by the assembly. However, it does not unambiguously lay down a deadline.

Read more: Bad and ugly – A Governor’s departure from convention has set off unsavoury events
What should be done to avoid friction between the state government and the governor?

-The Constitution is clear that the legislature has primacy, hence, governors should not use loopholes to stall the functions of the legislature.

-The Centre must put a deadline on how long a governor can stall a bill.

-Make governors accountable to not just the central executive via the President but also the Rajya Sabha and the state government.

Read more: The Governor is under the Constitution, not above it
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