In the recent controversy over the role of Governor in Karnataka State Assembly Elections, a question has emerged over the role and relevance of Governor. It is said that the flaw does not lie with the identity of the individual but the design of the Constitution itself. Therefore, we have to rethink the role of the Governor in the constitutional scheme.
- To ensure that the overriding powers remain with the British Government, it retained the post of Governor in the Government of India Act, 1935 while catering to the increasing demands of the nationalist ranks for constitutional reforms.
- It gave the Governor discretionary powers with special responsibilities to enable him/her to act at his/her will.
- KT Shah criticised the institution of Governor and wrote that it would be biased in his functioning and the actions of him/her will remain at loggerheads with the popularly elected ministers. Despite such red flags, Constituent Assembly chose to retain the post and retained the discretionary powers of it on the pretext of exercising central control over states of the nascent state of India.
- CA assured that Governor would be a nominal post and it would not interfere in the day-to-day administration of the State and the criticism of Rohini Kumar Chaudhari of discretion of Governor in terms of formation of government in the state was brushed aside by saying that ‘no-confidence motion’ would resolve such issues.
Analysing the Constitutional provisions
- Driven by concerns of national integrity and preventing further disintegration of the Indian state, the framers retained the institution of Governor. Commitment to federalism was there but it was subserved to the fears of secessionism. It was argued that popular democracy could unleash the passions of its own destruction unless it is accompanied by some controls. The Office of Governor is one of these important controls that CA chose to keep in the constitutional scheme.
- However, the concerns of Rohini Kumar Chaudhari came true when the Governor installed Congress Government in Madras in 1952 despite UDF being the single largest party in elections. Engineering of splits and defections became the norm after this election.
- As past sins cannot justify the present misadventures, therefore it is essential to establish checks and balances by specifying the rules for Governor’s discretion in such matters.
What should be done?
The Constitution should clearly specify the rules governing government formation and reduce the swearing-in to a purely ceremonial procedure to be performed by the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court.
Source – The Hindu
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