The Governor : Appointment, Functions and Powers

Chapter II of Part VI of the constitution of India deals with “The Executive” of States. According to the constitution ‘There shall be a governor for each state (Art. 153)’. The Governor, as the chief executive head of the state, would exercise his executive powers directly or through his subordinate to him in accordance with the Constitution (Art. 154). However, like the President he is a nominal (Constitutional) executive head.

However, through the 7th constitutional Amendment Act of 1956 the Constitution added two important clauses :

(i) The expression “State”, defined under Art. 152, does not include the State of Jammu and Kashmir because it has a separate Constitution and enjoys a special status.

(ii) It allowed the appointment of the same person as Governor for two or more State or Lt. Governor of the Union Territory.

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The Governor is appointed ‘by the President by warrant under his hand and seal (Art. 155), on the recommendations of Union Councils of Ministers. On the Governor being a nominee of the central Government, the Supreme Court, in 1979, has held that the post of a Governor is not an employment under the Central Government, and asserted that being an independent Constitutional office it is not under the control of or subordinate to the Central Government.

On taking oath, Art.159 clearly describes that before starting to function as a Governor, every Governor or every person has to take an oath in the presence of the Chief Justice, or in his absence, the senior most Judge of the High Court available in the state concerned.

According to Art. 156 of the Constitution the Governor’s usual term of office is 5 years that he spends during the pleasure of the President. However, the Governor can be asked to hold his office for more time until his successor takes the charge. The Governor can also resign ( Clause 2, Art. 156) at any time by tendering his resignation letter to the President. The state legislature or a High Court has no power to remove a Governor.

Art.157 of the constitution, while dealing with the qualification for appointment as Governor, has laid down that the person appointed as a Governor must be

(i) a citizen of India

(ii) a person who has completed the age of thirty five years.

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Art. 158 of the constitution, while describing the conditions of Governor’s office, laid downs:

  • The Governor must not be a member of either house of Parliament or a House of the state Legislature. If any such person is appointed as Governor ‘he shall be deemed to have vacated his seat in that House on the date on which he enters upon his office as Governor.’
  • The Governor must not hold any office of profit.
  • The Governor is entitled to use his official residence without payment of rent.
  • The emoluments, allowance and privileges may be determined by the Parliament by law (the Parliament, in 2008, increased the salary of the Governor from Rs. 36,000 to Rs. 1.10 lakh per month). To enhance the salary the Governor’s (Emoluments, Allowances and Privileges) Act,1982 was amended in 2008 ( by Act 1 of 2009) that came into effect on 1 January 2006.
  • The emoluments and allowances of Governor cannot be diminished during his term of office.
  • When the same person is appointed as Governor of two or more states, the emoluments and allowances payable to him are determined by the President and shared by the States concerned.
  • A Governor has the same Executive, legislative, Financial, Judicial and some other powers including emergency ones as the President of India has. However, he has, unlike the President, no diplomatic and military powers.

Among the Executive powers of a Governor fall the appointments of Chief Minister, Councils of Ministers, Advocate General of the state, Chairman and members of State Public Commission and Election Commissioner of the state.

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Discharging his Legislative powers a Governor can:

  • Summon, Prorogue and dissolve the State Legislature.
  • Appoint 1/6 th members of the Legislative Council.
  • Make law through ordinances
  • Address the first session of State Legislature after election and at the beginning of each new session.
  • Given assent to the Bills so that they become laws.
  • Send messages to State Legislature on Bills pending before it.
  • Nominate one member from the Anglo-Indian community.

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Discharging his Financial powers a Governor:

  • Ensures that the State budget (Annual Financial Statement) is laid before the State Legislature.
  • Has power to recommend all the money bills that are to be introduced in the State Legislature.
  • To meet any unforeseen expenditure can make advances out of the Contingency Fund of the State.

Discharging his Judicial Powers a Governor can:

  • Grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions or punishment or suspend, remit and commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the state extends (Art. 161).
  • Appoint Judges of courts below the High Court.
  • Be consulted by the President in the matter of the appointment of the Chief Justice and other Judges of the High Court.

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Powers of The Governor Under Emergency:

  • Reports to the President if the State Government is not functioning Constitutionally and recommends the President Rule (Art. 356)
  • Becomes ‘agent of the Union Government in the State’ when the President’s Rule is in progress.
  • Takes over the functions of administration directly under his command and runs the state with the aid of the Civil Servants.

Among the other powers of a Governor are:

  • Tabling the report of the State Public Service Commission.
  • Acting as chancellor of State Universities and appointing Vice-Chancellors.
  • Refusing to sign an ordinary bill passed by the state Legislature.
  • Receiving and tabling the report of State Auditor General.
  • Appointing any member as Chief Minister it no party has clear-cut majority.

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