12. State Government

Powers of Governor in India

The governors and lieutenant-governors/administrators of the states and union territories of India have similar powers and functions at the state level as that of the President of India at Union level. Governors exist in the states while lieutenant-governors exist in union territories and in the National Capital Territory of Delhi. The governor acts as the nominal head whereas the real power lies with the Chief ministers of the states and his/her councils of ministers.

Being a constitutional head in the state, the Governors have executive, legislative, financial, judicial and discretionary powers.

Executive Powers

All the executive actions of the state are taken in his name. He makes rules specifying the manner in which the orders and other instruments made and executed in his name shall be authenticated. Further, Governor also can make rules for more convenient transaction of the business of the state government.

Appointments done by Governor

Appointment of some of the following important functionaries of the State Government is made by the Governor including.

Chief Minister and Other Ministers

The Chief Ministers is appointed by Governor and other ministers in state are appointed by him on advice of Chief Minister. The CM as well as other ministers hold their office during pleasure of the Governor. However, they cannot be removed arbitrarily until Council of Ministers has confidence of the state assembly. Further, in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha, the governor also appoints a Tribal Welfare Minister.

Chairmen and members of SPSC

Governor also appoints the chairman and other members of State Public Service Commissions.However, removal of chairmen and members of SPSCs can be done only by President.

Advocate General

Advocate general is the part of state executive and highest law officer of the state. He is appointed by governor and his retainer is determined by Governor. Advocate general has no fixed tenure and holds the office during the pleasure of the Governor.

State Election Commissioner

Governor appoints the state election commissioner and determines the conditions of service and tenure of the later. However, Election Commissioners in states can be removed only in like manner and on like grounds of a state high court judge.

Vice-chancellors

Governor is the Chancellor of universities in the state and he appoints vice-chancellors in various universities.

District Judges

Appointments of persons to be, and the posting and promotion of, district judges in any State is done by Governor of the State in consultation with the High Court exercising jurisdiction in relation to such State. {Article 233}

Role in President’s Rule

Governor has extensive executive powers in terms of imposition of emergency in state under article 356. Under this article, Governor can send a report to President and recommend constitutional emergency on the ground that government of the State cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions constitution.

Legislative Powers

Powers with regard to state legislature

Governor has powers to summon and prorogue state legislature and dissolve the state assembly. He addresses the first session of the state legislature after the general elections in the state. He also appoints 1/6th members of the State legislative Council in states wherever there is bicameral legislature. He also nominates one member in state legislative assembly from the Anglo-Indian Community if in view, the community is not well represented.

The powers with regard to Bills

All the bills passed by the state legislatures are sent to the Governor for assent. Once a bill is sent to Governor for assent, he can:

  • give assent to the bill
  • withhold the assent
  • return the bill to legislature for reconsideration {if it is not a money bill}. If the bill is re-passed by legislature with or without amendment, the governor has to give assent to the bill.
  • Reserve the bill for consideration of the President in circumstances when the bill violates constitution or is against directive principles of state policy or may involve some kind of conflict with union powers or is against the larger interest of country and people or may endanger the position of the high court in the state.

Ordinance Making Powers

As per provisions of article 213, the Governor has special legislative power of promulgating the ordinances during the recess of the State legislature.

  • To issue an ordinance, the governor must be satisfied with the circumstances that make it necessary for him / her to take immediate action.
  • Governor cannot promulgate an ordinance in any of the three situations give below:
    • If the ordinance has the provisions which of embodied in a bill would require president’s sanction.
    • If the ordinance has the provisions which the governor would reserve as a bill containing them for the president’s sanction.
    • If an act of the state legislature has the same provisions that would be invalid without the assent of the president.

All ordinances promulgated by the Governor in the state have the same effect and force. The ordinance must be laid before the state legislature when it reassembles and it must be upheld by the State legislature, failure to which the ordinance would be invalid.

Powers with respect to Disqualification of members

Governor decides on the question of disqualification of members of the state legislature in consultation with the Election Commission.

Reports laid by Governor in state legislature

Governor lays the reports of the State Finance Commission, the State Public Service Commission and the Comptroller and Auditor-General relating to the accounts of the state, before the state legislature.

Financial Powers

Money bills in the State legislature cannot be introduced without prior recommendation of the Governor. Governor ensures that the Budget of the state is laid before the assembly every year. The “Contingency Fund of the state” is maintained and administered by the Governor of the state. Governor can advance money out of it for meeting unforeseen expenditures, but the money has to be recuperated with the authority of the state legislature. The Governor of the state receives the report of the States auditor general pertaining to the accounts of the legislature and puts it before the state legislature.

Judicial Powers

President of India consults the Governor while appointing the Chief Justice and other judges of the High Courts of the states. President has powers can grant pardon, reprieve, respite or remission of punishment to persons convicted of an offense against the any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the state extends. Further, He cannot pardon a person awarded capital punishment, although he can convert the same into some other kind of punishment. Further, Governor has no powers to pardon with respect to a sentence in court martial.

Discretionary power of the Governor means the powers of the Governorwhich he exercises as per his/her own individual judgement or without the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers. As per the provisions of the Constitution, the Governor is the executive head of the state in India.

Discretionary Powers of the Governor

The discretionary powers of Governor in state are much more extensive in comparison to the President in centre in India. For example, Article 163 of the constitution says that there shall be a Council of Ministers in the states with the Chief Minister at the head to aid and advise the Governor in exercise his functions, except those which are required to be done by the Governor on his/ her discretion. The constitution further mentions that if any question arises whether a matter falls within the Governor’s discretion or not, decision of the Governor shall be final, and the validity of anything done by the Governor shall not be called in question on the ground that he ought or ought not to have acted in his discretion. Moreover, what advice was tendered by the Governor to the Ministry cannot be inquired into a court.

Some discretionary powers are as follows:

  • Governor can dissolve the legislative assembly if the chief minister advices him to do following a vote of no confidence. Now, it is up to the Governor what he/ she would like to do.
  • Governor, on his/ her discretion can recommend the president about the failure of the constitutional machinery in the state.
  • On his/ her discretion, the Governor can reserve a bill passed by the state legislature for president’s assent.
  • If there is NO political party with a clear cut majority in the assembly, Governor on his/ her discretion can appoint anybody as chief minister.
  • Governor determines the amount payable by the Government of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram to an autonomous Tribal District Council as royalty accruing from licenses for mineral exploration.
  • Governor can seek information from the chief minister with regard to the administrative and legislative matters of the state.
  • Governor has discretion to refuse to sign to an ordinary bill passed by the state legislature.

Thus, though the Governor is made the constitutional head of a state like president of India, yet there is a thin line as the Constitution empowers the Governor to act without the advice of the Chief Minister and his council and can use discretion on certain matters.

Special Responsibilities of Governor

The constitution has also placed some special powers and functions of Governor in certain states which need to be exercised in consultation with the Council of Ministers in state. These include:

  • Establishment of separate development boards for Vidarbha and Marathwada in Maharashtra.
  • Establishment of separate development boards for Saurashtra and Kutch in Guhjarat
  • Governor of Nagaland has special responsibility with respect to law and order in the State of Nagaland for so long as in his opinion internal disturbances occurring in the Naga Hills-Tuensang Area immediately before the formation of that State continues.
  • Special powers with respect to administration of tribal areas in Assam.
  • Special powers with respect to Manipur with respect to administration of hill areas in Manipur.
  • For peace and for ensuring social and economic advancement of the different sections of the population in Sikkim.
  • With respect to law and order in Arunachal Pradesh.
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