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Should the Governors Excercise Discretionary Power?

Kingson Chingakham

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The role of the governor has come into question due to the ‘discretionary power’ the office exercised,especially,at the time of government formations in the states of Karnataka,Goa and Manipur.The Governor is a constitutional position who is not elected but rather appointed by the President.He/she holds the office during the pleasure of the President.Discretionary power usually prevails in undemocratic countries where there is an authoritarian or monarchical form of government.In a democratic country,where supremacy lies in the constitution,should we allow an individual,who holds a constitutional position,to have discretionary power? .

The Sarkaria and Punchhi Commissions gave recommendations on what the role of the Governor should be at the time of government formation.These recommendations are not binding to the Governors as it overrides the discretionary power prescribed in the constitution.Lately,the office has been denigrated due to partisan politics.The institution of Governor has become suspect.Impartiality has been compromised due to confusions in the role of the Governor

No uniform standards or guidelines are followed by the governors.The Governors do not have security of tenure and no fixed term of office.He/she can be removed by the President at any time.Therefore,we can deduce that the Governors are under tremendous pressure to keep the Union Government happy at any cost.Only by doing this,he/she might save from removal.Wrong judgments can lead to horsetrading,defection and corruption.The Governor should be made answerable to the Court for his wrong judgment and should not be clouded under immunity..

There is no prescribed eligibility for the Governor.The lawmakers do not have the will to formulate a fix eligibility and a clear stated role of the Governors.This has been done so that they can use the office of the Governor according to their whims and desires.The removal of the dissenting Governors and installing a conformist individual can be done easily even though the President formally appoints the Governor.

The lawmakers have safeguarded the ‘Canadian constitution’ of federal structure where the Governor of the province is appointed by the Governor-General (who is the monarch and the head of the state).In Canada,the monarchy,which has a role in appointing the provincial governors,is an inherited position.But our head of the state is indirectly elected through an electoral college and definitely does not synchronize with the Canadian Model.

At this juncture,there should be some new ways to appoint the Governors.Instead of appointing by the President,should not there be an indirect election in line with the presidential and vice-presidential elections? Should someone from political background be allowed to hold the office of the Governor? For example,Najma Heptullah,a former cabinet minister under PM Narendra Modi,is currently the Governor of Manipur and Shiela Dixit,the former Congress CM from Delhi, was the Governor of Kerala for few months.

What we can at least expect is a non-partisan advisory committee consisting of the Union Government,the largest opposition party in the Parliament,legal luminaries and other experts to decide on the appointment of the Governors if indirect elections are not feasible.Though a federal issue,consultation with the states should be avoided as this might spark conflict of interest,thereby,stalling the entire process.

The Constituent Assembly believed that ‘the election of a governor would be entirely on personal ground.Hence,it is not in the national interest to involve a large number of voters in an election’.The present chaos is the consequence of such ‘personal grounds’.If it is not in the national interest,why do we even need the office of the Governor? A log-jam between the parties and the office of the Governor will only hurt the voters,who will eventually loose faith in our democracy and create further unrest.

Personal Blog. For details please mail me at observersindia@gmail.com

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