The Tamil Nadu Assembly was rocked by unprecedented scenes when Governor R N Ravi skipped certain portions from the customary speech submitted to him by the state government for reading at the start of the Assembly session.


Governor’s Address to the Legislature

  • Meaning — The Governor’s address contains a review of the government’s activities and accomplishments in the previous year, its plans for the session, and policy and legislative proposals that the government plans to implement in the coming year. It is prepared and submitted by the state government to the Governor beforehand.
  • Constitutional provisions — The Governor is expected to address the first Assembly session of the state every year and the first session of a new legislature after the state assembly elections, under Articles 175 and 176 of the Constitution.
      • Article 175: It empowers the Governor to address and send messages to the House or Houses and may for that purpose require the attendance of members.
      • Articles 176: Governor has the right to address the first session of the House after the elections to the Legislative Assembly and at the commencement of the first session of each year.
  • Convention — On the lines of a British convention since 1829, the governor must read the full speech as it is and without any deviation, because it is essentially the government’s message, for which the governor’s office bears no responsibility.


Observations by the Judiciary

  • The Rajasthan HC (1967) held that even some portion read by the governor is good enough to deem the whole address as read.
  • The Calcutta HC (1966) held that the governor cannot decline to deliver his address and refuse to fulfil his constitutional duty, implying that address under Article 176 is mandatory.
      • However, the HC also held that when the governor walks out of the House after laying down the address on the table of the House, it is mere irregularity, not illegality.
      • Thus, his action is not questionable under Article 212, wherein the validity of the House proceedings cannot be challenged on the ground of mere irregularity in the procedure.
      • The Calcutta HC also (in other case) held the governor has the right to delete or not read irrelevant portions or portions which do not deal with the policy of the government.
  • A five-judge SC bench (in Nabam Rebia case 2016) nullified the action of Governor of Arunachal Pradesh, who advanced the session of the assembly without the advice of the CM.
      • The court observed that Governor had exceeded his jurisdiction as he had no discretion in convening the assembly session.


Implications of Governor’s Deletion or Addition to his Address

  • It widens the trust deficit between the governors and Opposition-ruled governments. Some Opposition CMs merely get the House adjourned (by Speaker), rather than prorogued (by Governor) to avoid the governor’s address. For instance, in 2022, the Telangana Governor was denied the opportunity to address the legislative assembly.
  • It may create a constitutional crisis. For example, the CM may refuse to defend the address at the end of the debate on the governor’s address and the House may reject the resolution on the governor’s speech.
      • It is hence considered a no-confidence motion and the CM may need to resign.
      • This dissolution of government would not only be grossly unjust and unethical but absolutely undemocratic.
      • For example, the CM of Punjab in 1967 had resigned when the governor’s address was defeated on the floor of the House.
      • UP CM (C B Gupta) too had to resign in similar circumstances when a resolution thanking the governor was defeated in the UP assembly.


What do the experts say?

  • Leading British constitutional law expert Ivor Jennings notes that Sovereign (king) can suggest changes or revisions in the address, but the last word remains with the Cabinet.
  • A B Keith in his work, Constitutional Law, too holds that the speech by the monarch has to merely state what the government wants to do in the new session of the House.
  • Author Sibranjan Chatterjee in his book, “Governor’s Role in the Indian Constitution”, said that the Constituent Assembly intended that Governor’s address be prepared by the Council of Ministers.
      • If a Governor deletes any para of the address under the cloak of his discretionary power, his/her action may not be ‘unlawful’ from a rigid legalistic viewpoint but would impact the norms of parliamentary system of government.


Way forward

  • The CMs too must show prudence and not include irrelevant facts or statements that have little to do with the jurisdiction of the state government.
  • The governor principal job as a sagacious/wise adviser is “to be consulted, to warn and to encourage”.
  • Both governors and CMs, as constitutional functionaries, should respect each other and at least have a working relationship.



The Governor’s address is an important aspect of constitutional symbolism, and as the head of the state, all governors must uphold their oath of “preserving, protecting, and defending” the Constitution.


SourceThe Indian Express


QUESTION – The gubernatorial powers to exercise discretion have been a matter of debate since independence, but it has been labelled as a ‘necessary evil’ by some experts. Comment why?