UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis | 4 May 2022

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What the article is about?

  • Talks about the constitutional positions with respect to Governor’s role in the legislative procedure.

Syllabus: GS-II Indian Constitution, Governor

Governor’s position:

  • The Governor is an appointee of the President, which means the Union government.
    • Although Article 154(1) of the Constitution vests in the Governor the executive power of the State, he is required to exercise that power in accordance with the Constitution.
    • In other words, the Governor can act only on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.
  • In Shamsher Singh vs State of Punjab (1974), the Supreme Court had clearly affirmed: “We declare the law of this branch of our Constitution to be that the President and Governor, custodians of all executives and other powers under various Articles, shall, by virtue of these provisions, exercise their formal constitutional powers only upon and in accordance with the advice of their Ministers save in a few well known exceptional situations”
  • Dr. Ambedkar explained the position of the Governor in the Constituent Assembly as follows: “The Governor under the Constitution has no functions which he can dis- charge by himself: no functions at all.”
  • The Sarkaria Commission restates this position in its report, “it is a well-recognised principle that so long as the council of ministers enjoys [the] confidence of the Assembly its advice in these matters, unless patently unconstitutional, must be deemed as binding on the governor”.
  • In 2016, a five-judge constitution Bench of the Supreme Court (the Nabam Rebia case) reaffirmed the above position on the governors’ powers in our constitutional setup. 

Way Ahead:

  • Giving assent to a Bill passed by the legislature is a part of the legislative process and not of the executive power.
    • But the Constitution has by providing for definite options made it obligatory for the Governor to exercise any of those options without delay.
    • Withholding of assent, though an option, is not normally exercised by Governors because it will be an extremely unpopular step.
    • Besides, withholding assent to a Bill by the Governor, an appointee of the President, neutralises the entire legislative exercise by an elected legislature enjoying the support of the people.
    • This option is undemocratic and essentially against federalism.
  • In the United Kingdom, it is unconstitutional for the monarch to refuse to assent to a Bill passed by Parliament.
  • Similarly, in Australia, refusal of assent to a Bill by the crown is considered repugnant to the federal system. 

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